Germany's intelligence agency BND 311 (R).
(photo credit: Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters)
BERLIN – The prisoner swap to free Gilad Schalit is “still fragile” and Iran’s
government could try to throw a wrench into the negotiation process to disrupt
the agreement, Germany’s senior foreign intelligence representatives told
reporters in the capital on Friday.
Ernst Uhrlau, the head of the Federal
Intelligence Service (BND) and Gerhard Konrad, the BND agent who helped lay the
groundwork for the exchange, expressed worries about possible intervention by
Uhrlau, a member of the Social Democratic Party who plans to step
down as head of the BND this year, said Germany’s role in the Schalit agreement
was a source of “pride.” Uhrlau has overseen the BND since 2005.
Arndt, the BND’s spokesman, told The Jerusalem Post
on Friday, “We are, of
course, pleased that this issue has reached an agreement and we are pleased for
Schalit and the family of Schalit, when it comes to a conclusion.”
told the Post
the BND agent “no longer” played a role during the final stages of
the negotiations. According to Israel’s and Germany’s governments, the Egyptians
took over the lead in the complex bargaining process and sealed the
Arndt did say, however, that Konrad “invested a lot of time,
work and energy” in the Schalit release and he was involved during the years
2008-2010, and a “little in 2011.”
Konrad, who is in 50s, was the head of
BND office in Damascus between 1998 and 2002 and speaks fluent Arabic.
apparently has a PhD in Islamic studies, and his wife also works for the
He currently has a beard. It is unclear if Konrad speaks Hebrew.
Konrad has crisscrossed the Middle East, including spending time in Gaza, Egypt
and Israel, to secure Schalit’s release.
According to a report in the
mass circulation Bild newspaper, a Mossad official said that if Konrad could get
frequent flyer bonus miles, he could fly free for the rest of his life. An
Israeli negotiating partner of Konrad said he has “nerves of steel,” The
Konrad’s motto is, “I fail until I’m successful,”
according to the Guardian.
The BND head, Uhrlau, played a critical role
in the talks to secure former IDF colonel Elhanan Tannenbaum from Hezbollah
imprisonment in 2004 as part of a prisoner swap. The swap resulted in the
exchange of 435 prisoners held by Israel in return for Tannenbaum’s release and
the return of the bodies of three soldiers killed during an ambush along the
Konrad led the talks in 2009 to gain the release of the
bodies of two IDF reservists, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, for the freedom
of five terrorists, including the child-murderer Samir Kuntar.