Renditions Program Poster Boy El-Masri Assaults German Mayor

Last Friday, Khaled Al-Masri, aka. Khaled El-Masri, was arrested after assaulting the mayor of the Germany city of Neu-Ulm. A German citizen of Lebanese origin, Masri gained notoriety as the most visible “victim” of America’s program of “extraordinary renditions.” While on a trip to the Balkans in early 2004, he is alleged to have been illegally seized by the CIA and rendered to Afghanistan, before being released in Albania six months later.

According to German press reports, Masri attacked Mayor Gerold Noerenberg in the latter’s office, punching him and throwing a chair at him. The mayor is reported to have suffered cuts and bruises and a broken finger in the attack. Following one day of sick leave, he returned to work on Tuesday, his left hand fully bandaged except for the thumb and index finger. (See photo here.) Masri is a resident of a suburb of Neu-Ulm. The city has come to be known as perhaps the most important hub of jihadist activism in Germany. (See “Southern German Towns Become Hub of Jihadism”.)

The attack on Noerenberg is just the latest in a series of violent crimes committed by Masri in Germany in recent years. He has thus far served no jail time for these crimes. In January 2007, the unemployed Masri assaulted an instructor in a worker-retraining program, leaving the victim hospitalized for three days. According to information from the Neu-Ulm District Attorney’s Office that has been reported in the local media, Masri is supposed to have “pulled the man by the hair and thrown him against a wall. Then he threw a table at him, punched him in the face and stomped on him.” (For source and further details, see here.)

In May of the same year, Masri drove his car through the front door of a local supermarket and then set the building on fire, causing a reported €500,000 ($735,000) in damages.  As Masri’s lawyer has admitted, the immediate motive for the attack was his client’s dissatisfaction about a defective iPod. Just last month, as reported in the local Neu-Ulmer Zeitung, Masri sent a death threat to the owner of a local company after two workers spoke to one of his six children.

Masri’s outbursts of violence appear, moreover, to have preceded his alleged “rendering” by the CIA. Thus, according to a February 3, 2007, report in the Neu-Ulmer Zeitung, Masri had a first run-in with the law in Germany “some years” earlier, at which time he assaulted a worker in a welfare office. In this incident as well, he is reported to have thrown a chair at the victim.