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  A Story of Honor and Cooperation
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A Story of Honor and Cooperation

How to catch a foreign Muslim perpetrator in his own country

by Stefan Thiesen, Ph.D.
12 February 2009
Criminals in the Muslim world bring dishonor on their families, who in turn will help bring those criminals to justice—unless something even more criminal intervenes.
Losing a child is the worst horror, the worst nightmare for any parent. It was a nightmare coming true for the parents of the 8-year-old German-Turkish girl Kerdelen living in the city of Paderborn in Westfalia/Germany. Her abused corpse was found some 100 km from her hometown on the shores of the Westfalian Möhne lake. DNA analysis identified her murderer: 29-year-old Turkish immigrant Ali K.—the next door neighbor of Kerdelens family.

As horrible as it is—this unfortunately is a common crime event occurring many times around the world every year—the events from here on took a different direction. Before he was identified, Ali K. had fled to Turkey, and arguably one might have assumed that he was gone for good in the depths of the huge Turkish territory. But the table was turned, and he was arrested in western Turkey shortly after he had been identified.

What happened? Did the international police machinery function smoothly? Did the German government send Special Forces together with an arrest warrant to Turkey? No such thing happened. Ali K. was dug up by his own father-in-law, who was moving heaven and hell to re-establish the honor of his daughter, who suddenly had found herself being married to a child murderer.

From the moment he was identified, Ali K. had a swarm of family and friends and enlisted private investigators on his heels—and at the same time no support whatsoever in his very own country. A private network of motivated kin located this criminal after he had been dropped and stripped of all support by family and friends. The ground literally had been pulled from under his feet.

Another picture comes to mind. A mass murderer hides in a Muslim country that is not even his own. Another country with another culture, a country where he committed his crimes, is so enraged that they send airplanes to bomb that country into oblivion. Thousands of innocent people, entire families, mothers, children, are killed in the process. Years upon years of military actions, occupation and investigation pass, billions are spent, a country is torn and shredded to pieces, and yet the man is not found, not arrested. How is that possible? Might it be that the very action of attacking the country where he hides had the opposite effect of what was desired? Might it be that instead of being hunted by his kin and his host countries population, the Muslim honor code of that country’s population turned against the aggressors and instead protects him?

The West failed to make it clear that Osama Bin Laden (always assuming he indeed was the mastermind behind Sept. 11) had lost his honor big time by killing thousands of ordinary people, including children, including people of all religions, including, most likely, pregnant women with unborn babies in their wombs. Unfortunately, the U.S. did the same in Iraq and Afghanistan, so from the Muslim countries’ point of view (or, indeed, from any decent human’s point of view), the U.S. lost its honor as well.

A country might be able to re-establish its honor over time, although it might take decades—a lifetime even. An individual child murderer cannot.

The lesson to be learned is that if you want to catch a criminal internationally, strip him of his honor, strip him of his moral and material support, pull the ground from under his feet—and he will be brought to justice. And that involves three major aspects: respect, cultural sensitivity and cooperation.

Dr. Thiesen is a German scientist and freelance writer. He may be reached at

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This story was published on February 12, 2009.


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