‘Inconspicuous’

The Porn Star Islamist Spy in the German FBI

Enlisted in the expanding counterterror operations of Germany’s BfV in April, he was arrested for plotting his own acts of terror.

Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast

BERLIN — You couldn’t make it up.

Two weeks ago, 51-year-old Roque M. was sitting in the grey headquarters of the German domestic intelligence service (the BfV, known in English as the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution) in Cologne-Chorweiler, assigned to observe the Islamist scene in Germany. Now, he is sitting in jail.

The Spanish-born German citizen and married father of four is accused of having entered a chat room popular among Islamic militants under a fake name, advertising himself as a spy and proposing to another user a violent act against “unbelievers.” He allegedly typed he was “ready for anything to help his brothers.”

Unfortunately for M, that user was also an employee of the BfV, who had been monitoring the chat room. M was arrested the next day.

During his interrogation, M confessed that he had secretly converted to Islam two years ago. He told his interrogator that he infiltrated the intelligence agency because it was “Allah’s will.”

Indeed, M claimed that there was a bigger plan for infiltrating the BfV—one that would continue without him. He reportedly said, “You may have me now, but the plan will go on.”

With new terrorist threats and extremist tensions on the horizon, the BvF is expanding. The intelligence service currently has almost 3,000 employees; 500 new positions are planned in the federal budget for 2017.

M was hired as an “observation employee“ this April. According to BfV boss Hans-Georg Maaßen, the “very, very high” security precautions were met in the application process: M had to give five references, list all his relatives and undergo biographical questioning.

But despite being described as “inconspicuous” and “a good worker,” it seems that M was leading a double life beyond that of your typical secret agent: When the police searched the apartment that M shared with his unsuspecting family, they reportedly found, among other things, gay porn videos he had acted in under the same pseudonym he used in the Islamist chat room.

Investigative journalist Hans Leyendecker tells The Daily Beast that the BfV would probably be in a lot more trouble if the Islamist who claimed to be a “cog in the machine” had not been, in fact, such an eccentric personality. “He is married to a doctor—and also a gay porn star; he is Catholic and Salafist. Nobody knows who he is, but he himself doesn’t seem to know who he is.”

“We obviously are dealing with a case in which a person became radicalised, unnoticed by those in his personal environment,” Maaßen said. He had looked over M’s file, and failed to find any mistakes in his recruitment process.

So politicians are divided on how bad a blunder this is for the BfV. The ruling coalition praise of the “good work” in uncovering M, opposition politicians are worried about possible security breaches, and the far left wants to abolish the BfV altogether.

Get The Beast In Your Inbox!

Daily Digest

Start and finish your day with the top stories from The Daily Beast.

Cheat Sheet

A speedy, smart summary of all the news you need to know (and nothing you don't).

By clicking “Subscribe,” you agree to have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
Thank You!
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason.

But whatever way you cut it, Berlin is annoyed that the case was in the papers on Tuesday night, before anyone heard about it from Maaßen directly.

“The entire parliament is sick of having to find out sensitive information about the intelligence service in the media. It’s not just bad style, to me it is a real disgrace,” SPD politician Uli Grötsch complained.

Maaßen and the BfV also came under fire this summer for the “Corelli-Affair,” when evidence turned up suggesting ties between the deceased spy Thomas R. and the extreme-right terror group NSU.

Prior to being bashed for security leaks and bad communication, the BfV was mocked as boring and square. In Germany, given its history, being a spy is not the honor it can be in some other countries, and according to Leyendecker, “there have always been difficulties finding qualified people.”

Two years ago, the intelligence agency placed a vaguely worded job advertisement in Cologne’s papers, seeking, “A politically interested, mobile person, who takes in their surroundings with open eyes,” to be employed “in the intelligence service for observation.” The response rate was so low apparently, that Maaßen had to step in and assure readers that the ad was “not a joke.”

Today, clearly, there’s nothing funny about it.