In an article in the Sunday edition of the German tabloid Bild, the head of the German police union, Rainer Wendt, slammed the German government’s decision to accept two Guantánamo detainees slated for transfer. Noting that both detainees had received training at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, Wendt commented that while there, “they were not learning pottery-making, but how to kill.” “Only visionaries could say in advance if they represent no future danger,” Wendt added.
On Wednesday, German interior minister Thomas de Maizière had announced the government’s decision to accept the two men. “We will not bring any terrorists into the country,” de Maizière insisted at the time. A third candidate for transfer was refused, he explained, because it could not be excluded “with a likelihood approaching certainty” that he represents a danger.
According to a poll conducted for Bild by the Emnid Institute, 51 percent of Germans are opposed to Germany accepting the two detainees, while only 39 percent support the move.
The two men are to take up residence in the city of Hamburg and the state of Rhineland-Palatinate respectively. The interior minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, Karl Peter Bruch, told the German news magazine Focus that the men will receive a “spatially limited” residency status.
It is not clear what this would mean in practice. There are, of course, no border controls between Germany’s sixteen states. Germany, moreover, is a party to the so-called Schengen Accord, which has eliminated border controls for travel between some twenty four continental European countries plus Iceland. This means that any detainees released in Germany will de facto enjoy freedom of movement throughout the entire “Schengen space.”
According to the Focus report, German “support plans” [Betreuungskonzepte] for the two men include “comprehensive psychotherapy.” “For their own protection,” Bruch added, they will be “shielded from the public and the media.”