A man believed to have been a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden has been living in the German city of Bochum since 2005 and has been spreading radical views among young Muslims.

The Tunisian man, named only as Sami A, 36, spent time in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2000 and, according to German media reports, he lives in an apartment in a quiet street in the industrial city.


On the front door, a sticker reads: "There is no power but of God the Exalted, the Great."


A court blocked a deportation order in March last year because he might face persecution in Tunisia and has a wife and three children, who have German passports.


The Bochum city administration has appealed against the ruling and a further court decision is pending.


"According to our information he was in Afghanistan and Pakistan for several months in 2000 and as far as we know he is supposed to have been one of the bodyguards of Osama bin Laden in this time," a spokeswoman for the interior ministry in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia told The National.


"The security authorities have been comprehensively monitoring him for eight years. We regard him as dangerous because we have information that he spreads extremist views and has the potential to radicalise young people."


The spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Sami A still has contacts with Al Qaeda. Authorities have no evidence that he has broken any laws.


His existence was not known to the public outside Bochum until this week when the daily Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung published an article about him.


The report said he was regarded as a hero in the German Islamist scene because he had protected bin Laden, and that he holds lectures in mosques in the city.


"Yes, Herr A visits every mosque, unfortunately," Talha Kali, the chairman of the association of Bochum mosques, told the newspaper. "He held lectures here and taught a few young people."


The Islamic community has not engaged him as a preacher, though, he said.


Authorities have declined to comment on reports that Sami A had taught two members of a terrorist cell currently on trial in the western city Düsseldorf on suspicion of planning to detonate a bomb in a crowd.


Asiem El Difraoui, an analyst of Islamist militancy at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, said Sami A was a "father figure of jihad" whose past as bin Laden's bodyguard made him dangerous. "He doesn't have to go to war himself. He shows others the path. They follow," he added.


Sami A has been forbidden to leave Bochum for the past eight years and has to report to the police every day to show he is complying with that order. He has declined to speak to the media.


Rainer Wendt, the head of the German Police Federation, said: "It rightly makes every decent citizen red with anger that recognised hate preachers can spend years among us causing trouble at the taxpayers' expense."


The ministry spokeswoman said Sami A cannot be prevented from giving lectures or holding sermons.


"The security authorities are using all judicial means available to curtail his activities as far as possible," she said. "But in a democratic state there are limits to what can be done."


Sami A came to Germany in 1997 to study engineering. The city of Bochum has been trying unsuccessfully to have him deported since 2006.


Germany has not suffered a major terrorist attack but authorities have thwarted a number of plots in recent years and are concerned about the risk of home-grown terrorism by young men born in Germany and radicalised by people like Sami A.


North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state with 18 million people, has seen clashes between Islamists and far-right demonstrators this year.


The violence, in which several police officers were hurt, was triggered by a controversial project by a Muslim businessman to distribute free copies of the Quran.


The North Rhine-Westphalia interior ministry plans to launch a programme soon to encourage young Muslims to leave the radical scene.


"We know that when young people have got into their clutches and have matured by being trained as fighters in Afghanistan or Pakistan and undergone further indoctrination it's more difficult to get them out," the spokeswoman said.


"We will work with Islamic organisations to find alternatives that allow these young people to worship their faith peacefully."


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Bin Laden's bodyguard brings fear to Germany's Bochum city - The National