Red Army Faction Terrorist
Rolf Pohle Walked into Athens Trap
20 days after Mauss became involved in the case the handcuffs were on / huge police operation in Athens
Cochem-Zell. Hunsrück agent Werner Mauss played an important, if not the most important, role in one of the most successful of police operations against the Red Army Faction (RAF). It was on the orders of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the Bavarian state criminal investigation department that secret agent Werner Mauss was assigned to the terrorist hunt in 1976.
After the kidnappers of the Christian Democratic Party leader Peter Lorenz had succeeded in forcing the releases of five prisoners associated with the RAF who were then flown by Lufthansa to Yemen, Mauss received a tip-off that one of those released, RAF member Rolf Pohle, had made his way to Mykonos in Greece.
As the one responsible for providing the murder weapon used in the RAF killing of district court president Gunter von Drenkmann, Pohle was reckoned to be particularly dangerous. At that time Mauss still had a private plane (Cessna 210) that he used for his international operations. “I immediately flew to Greece”, Mauss recalls. Mauss, or “M”, as the now 58-year-old is known, followed the tip-off and succeeded in picking up on RAF terrorist Pohle’s trail. “The trail led us all over the Greek islands before we finally had our first success.”
Mauss knew then that Pohle had to be in Athens. The man from Hunsrück adopted a novel and systematic dragnet approach to find Pohle, something completely unknown at the time. Nowadays the method has become standard in criminal manhunts and was used to trace Thomas Drach, kidnapper of tobacco millionaire Jan-Phillip Reemstma, for example. “We knew of Pohle’s habit of buying the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper every day”, says Mauss. This passion for reading was, according to Mauss, due to the fact that RAF members were communicating with one another by way of coded messages placed in the classified column of the paper. “I found out how many sales points the paper was available at in Athens. There were 75 of them.”
A task force set up by the Munich Criminal Investigation Department (Kripo) made a great amount of documentation on the investigation available to Mauss, as well as over 100 photos of the suspect. Mauss then put his plan for the capture of the RAF terrorist to the head of the Spanish police department, a plan for which he would require the services of 200 police officers. “After an initial shock at the scale of the operation, and after I had explained that the whole thing would be over in an hour and a half, the police then agreed to the plan.”
The plan was then put into operation with around 200 plain-clothes police officers taking up positions near the newsstands. “Less than 15 minutes after the delivery of the papers, Pohle appeared at a newsstand in the Old Town”, says Mauss. “He was arrested immediately and was so surprised that he did not offer any resistance.”
The success of the Athens operation and of Mauss’s method for luring the terrorist into the trap was to lead to this becoming established as a regular part of police investigatory practice.
“The operation’s success led to the then president of the Federal Criminal Police Office Dr. Horst Herold adopting my method.”
RAF terrorist Pohle was later sentenced to life imprisonment in Germany, however Federal President Roman Herzog pardoned him two months ago and he was released on probation. For this kind of operation and for his undercover work it was necessary, as Mauss explains, to build up a large network of informants and to rent numerous safe houses.
Spiegel research has revealed that Mauss maintained flats, authorised by the Federal Criminal Police Office, in Munich, Frankfurt, Hanover and Berlin. For each of these Mauss was registered under a different identity by various authorities, such as the Office for Protection of the Constitution, or the Federal Criminal Police Office. In addition to this came the necessary special licence plates for the various cars needed by agent Mauss for his undercover work.
By courtesy of the Wochenspiegel SW publishers www.wochenspiegellive.de