Tim Blair


New Criterion



Friday, February 21, 2003

In Germany, September 11 support worker Mounir el Motassadeq got fifteen years for being too helpful to the suicidal killers, although he pleaded he didn't know what they were up to.

This is a pleasant surprise, since Germany has shown itself on other matters to be more than willing to give the benefit of the doubt to those who are close associates of terrorists. In Germany, they say, everyone has a past.

None more so than Jochen Fischer, the Foreign Minister dumped on the red-green coalition by the Greens. He was not only filmed while engaged in vicious street-fighting when thuggery was in fashion on the left, but was a close associate of those who took the next step into murder. "We were just good friends" was, in effect, Fischer's defence.

How can he get away with it? Joschka Fischer, Germany's foreign minister, smiles his winsome smile and says: yes, I fought the police in order to overthrow the state. Yes, I was a friend of an urban terrorist now on trial. Yes - and so what?

So the outcomes of September 11 are not all bad. Perhaps the German spine will remain stiffened.