Thursday, October 13, 2016

Where is an Arabic linguist when you need one ???

Germany is reeling from an improbable sequence of events.
Some good intelligence work leads the German police to the apartment of an immigrant, professedly Syrian.   They arrive in the nick of time:  the apartment turns out to be full of a powerful explosive, TATP, which has been used in numerous recent terrorist attacks in a number of countries.   But then things get weird.

* Even though they have surrounded the Plattbau (DDR-style prefab-modular apartment complex) with dozens of trained SWAT-team types, the suspect, seen nonchalently exiting his apartment, somehow manages to elude all his pursuers and besiegers.   All they managed to do was to get off a ‘warning’ shot, the signal for him to skedaddle.  (That sort of ineptness used to annoy me on “24”:  but at least the show had the excuse that the villains must not be caught before the final episode.)

Grenzschutzgruppe 9  on the job!

*  Despite an APB (including saturation-publicity on social media), the suspect manages to escape from Chemnitz to Leipzig uncaught and unmolested.

* There, he phones a Syrian acquaintance of his, asking “Hey man, can I crash at your pad?”    Sure, says the acquaintance (hereafter carried as “Mr BNB”)

* In the telling of Leipziger “Mr BNB”, he and two friends, having been alerted by social media to the identity of their guest  whom -- so he says -- he previously had never set eyes on, tie up the fugitive with electrical cord, and phone the police.  However, for lack of a translator (BNB’s German being poor), nobody can understand him, and essentially tell him “'Ain't nobody got time for this'.

Note that this was more than an inconvenience for the caller:  to show up in person at the Leipzig police station to make himself understood, would be to risk being spotted by local jihadis.  These don’t like snitches any more than do the thugs of Baltimore.  [Update:  And indeed, the Syrians have since complained of death-threats against them from local Muslims, and are being processed for a witness-protection program:]

* Dauntless, BNB goes to the police station in person.  There, they leave him cooling his heels for an hour, despite the fact that he is bringing them the most startling news and biggest coup of the year.  Again, lack of translator?

* The cops finally grab their prey, already trussed like a turkey, with  “Eid mubarak” ribbons around his ankles, and haul him off to the pokey.

* There,  he is put on suicide watch.  But then a psychologist interviews him; she concludes that this would-be suicide bomber is in no danger of, um, suicide, and the watch is relaxed.   Unsupervised in his cell, he frolics, smashing a lamp and messing with the electrical cord.  He is left unmolested.   Next thing you know, he has hanged himself.

That is unfortunate;  since, reportedly, instead of grilling the bastard around the clock as to who-all was in his network (you don’t get TATP just off the Internet; indeed, the stuff is devilishly hazardous to transport), the authorities had only one lone chat with him before he died, taking his secrets with him to the grave (and beyond, to Hell or Seventh Heaven, according to taste).  And once again, their excuse is:  Lack of a translator.

Am Dienstag führte eine Psychologin ein Gespräch mit dem Häftling. Er habe sich dabei "ruhig" verhalten, erklärte Rolf Jacob, Leiter der Justizvollzugsanstalt Leipzig (JVA). Die Intervalle zwischen den Kontrollen seien daraufhin auf 30 Minuten ausgedehnt worden. Dass al-Bakr später die Deckenlampe herunterriss und versuchte, an ein Stromkabel zu gelangen, ließ bei niemandem die Alarmglocken schrillen. "Man hat das mehr als Vandalismus ausgelegt, als er – warum auch immer – so gehandelt hat", erklärte Jacob am Donnerstag auf einer Pressekonferenz. Ein Gespräch mit dem Häftling konnte mangels Dolmetscher nicht stattfinden. Am Mittwochabend fand dann eine Auszubildende den Erhängten.

Solution:  Shower Arabic translators with mucho dollars, wherever they may be found.
(Contributions via this site;  bullion or Swiss francs only, please;  no dollars, pesos, or second-party food-stamps accepted.)
Arabic linguist  ponders an irregular verb

An Austrian reader agrees:

Eine Auszubildende macht den Rundgang?!

"Mangels Dolmetscher"?!

Also wenn ich den einzig gefassten mutmaßlichen IS-Selbstmordattentäter Deutschlands in meinem Gewahrsam hätte, dann würde ich ja mal auf der Stelle 50 Dolmetscher mit Helis einfliegen lassen und ihn von dutzenden GSG-9-Polizisten im Wechsel persönlich bewachen lassen bzw. einen Undercover-Zivilpolizisten in seine Zelle als Mithäftling schleusen.

For further thrilling tales of the true-life adventures  of those godlike beings, Arabic linguists, check out these fact-filled articles:


  1. Shortage of Arabic translators in the land of Has Wehr? Mein lieber Gott!

    1. Indeed, Hans Wehr must be conjugating in his grave.