Spy thriller : Secret spin operation in Berlin: Inside the intelligence peddlers' web
A former secret service operative, a dossier full of politically charged material and a renowned lobbyist in Germany’s capital – all three are part of an intricate spy story that is set right in the middle of Berlin.
BerlinOn a day in spring 2020, Michael Inacker met a man in his office whom he had known for a while. His visitor goes by the name Jason G., an alias. As it appears, G. was working as a contractor for Western intelligence services. He would later on use the information obtained during that meeting against his interlocutor. Inacker apparently considers him a business partner, possibly someone who could open up lucrative business opportunities.
Michael Inacker is the chairman of WMP, which is widely considered to be Germany‘s most important lobbying and PR firm. Its supervisory board sports names such as Eckhard Cordes, former chief executive of the Metro Group, Wendelin Wiedeking, former CEO of Porsche and Hans-Hermann Tiedje, former editor-in-chief of Germany's biggest tabloid Bild. Inacker, a PR heavyweight with high-level ties in politics, presumably did not anticipate the trouble this meeting in spring 2020 would get him into.
The conversation was reportedly about a deal concerning a secret dossier that could heavily incriminate the Gulf emirate Qatar: According to the documents, the Arab country was allegedly aiding Hizbullah, a militant Islamist group that is considered a terror organisation in many countries including Germany.
A lawyer replying to the questions of Berliner Zeitung on behalf of the company WMP EuroCom AG states „that our client has in no way taken part in covering up any collusion of Qatari institutions or persons and Hizbullah.”
According to Berliner Zeitung’s sources, the conversation between the two men was tackling an ominous agreement: High-ranking security officials in Qatar allegedly held out the prospect of 750,000 Euro if the information were not to come to light. As it appears, Inacker wants to help to that purpose; he himself denies any involvement.
The weekly newspaper Zeit also reported on the sensitive dossier – and that Inacker played a role in the story. Did he get caught in a sting operation targeting Qatar, an undercover secret service investigation, right in the centre of Berlin? That is be Jason G.’s version of the events; intelligence services of Western countries were allegedly involved. Inacker is repudiating all allegations; he is casting doubt on the authenticity of the documents and sources. A lawyer replying to the questions of Berliner Zeitung on behalf of the company WMP EuroCom AG states „that our client has in no way taken part in covering up any collusion of Qatari institutions or persons and Hizbullah.”
Berliner Zeitung has obtained supporting documents on the content and progress of the conversation, as well as further papers and agreements. Taken altogether, they suggest that Qatari state officials were prepared to pay money for the disappearance of the incriminating files.
According to Zeit, Jason G. is a private Contractor working for various security and intelligence services. According to Berliner Zeitung’s information, he used to be on the staff of one of the highest levels of Western secret services for sixteen years.
He appears to be extremely well informed about the Middle East. Between 2016 and 2017, he reportedly worked as an undercover agent inside Qatar. His focus: Illegal arms trade and the financing of terror organisations and militant Islamist groups. If what G. says is true, a source within the Qatari security apparatus gave him access to classified information.
Berliner Zeitung has seen extracts of the dossier. As Jason G. maintains, it contains evidence proving that Qatar has supported Hizbullah with money and arms shipments. The emirate is a preferred partner in the Gulf region for many Western countries and host of the 2022 soccer World Cup. However, the small, rich state has also been subject to criticism for its possible ties to Islamist groups. If proof was to surface that the emirate has indeed been supporting Hizbullah, it could face sanctions.
Qatar plays a central role in international efforts to combat terrorism and extremism in the Middle East,” stated an official from the ambassador's office in Berlin.
Hizbullah, a powerful force in Lebanon and part of the government in Beirut, is listed as terror organisation by many countries. In Germany, its political wing was banned only a few months ago, its militant wing has been considered illegal for years. At the end of April, the police in Berlin and other states raided mosques that were allegedly linked to the “Party of God”.
The government in Doha has not reacted to the questions of Berliner Zeitung. The Qatari embassy in Berlin denied the allegations without giving details: “Qatar plays a central role in international efforts to combat terrorism and extremism in the Middle East,” stated an official from the ambassador's office in Berlin, “We have strict laws in place to prevent and monitor terror financing by private individuals. Anyone found to be participating in illegal activity is prosecuted and punished to the full extent of the law.”
The content of the dossier does indeed sound explosive. However, the story revolving around the material is highly intricate, and the interests of the people involved do not become entirely clear. One of the things that are for certain is that pressure has been mounting on Michael Inacker as Stern magazine and Jerusalem Post have also reported on his possible role in the dubious deal with Qatar. Was he trying to help conceal the fact that powerful players in Qatar were arming Hizbullah – one of Israel’s most dangerous enemies? Or did he, as he maintains, want to create transparency on these practices?
According to the information of Berliner Zeitung, the two men have known each other since the end of 2017. At that time, says Jason G., he presented the dossier to a lawyer in Munich who allegedly put him in contact with Michael Inacker. One can wonder whether that was a coincidence. Jason G. says, Inacker had been on his radar “for a long time” – as a lobbyist who is making business deals with state actors in many countries.
As Jason G. recalls, Inacker had said the information sounded interesting, and he had offered to show it to the German intelligence service, which, apparently, he did shortly afterwards. Inacker states, he had notified the German authorities in charge about the “information conveyed and thus made it public”. Jason G., on the other hand, claims that Inacker had used his contacts to German security officials in order to raise the market value of the dossier.
Inacker's lawyers stressethat he had “not received any payment from the informant, neither in cash nor in any other way”, especially not for “contributing to any cover-up.” However, there are indications that both men have been meeting for a longer period. It came in handy that Inacker apparently had contact to a Qatari top-level diplomat in Brussels. He also did not respond to the questions of Berliner Zeitung.
Nevertheless, documents show that some business deals with Qatar came about: For instance, Berliner Zeitung has obtained an agreement dating from July 2019, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Qatar armed forces and one of Jason G.’s companies: According to the agreement, the contractor would receive 10,000 Euros every month for his services for one year. In addition, the paper stipulates that G. would not be charged with espionage in any shape or form. The Qataris' motives for this contract remain unclear.
It really surprises me that Inacker did not ask the right question, and that is, if anyone in my career ever really retires.
Inacker's lawyer stated that his client had neither received any money from Jason G. nor given him any. However, there is a contract that suggests that both men did at least agree on the payment of commissions: According to the document, that has been obtained by Berliner Zeitung, the parties of the contract were the consultant firm „WMP EuroCom AG…represented by its CEO Dr. Michael Inacker“ and a letter box company in the Caribbean, that apparently belongs to Jason G. According to the contract, WMP “has extensive contacts and relationships with potential clients.” G., on the other hand, „is interested in developing business relations in Qatar“. For all business transactions that WMP brokers, a commission of 20 percent of the turnover is to be paid. The paper does not say what sort of business transactions both sides want to engage in.
Jason G. says he assumes that Inacker took him for a businessman, an ex-agent who wanted to monetise the insights he had gained in his previous position. “It really surprises me that Inacker did not ask the right question, and that is, if anyone in my career ever really retires,” said the contractor.
If what Jason G. says is true, he was supposed to keep his knowledge about Qatar’s alleged machinations to himself. In return, the Qataris were offering money. His silence was allegedly worth 750,000 Euro.
That was, as he claims, the deal he discussed with Inacker in his Berlin office. Inacker has denied all of the allegations, but the documentation that was presented to Berliner Zeitung seems to support the contractor’s version of the story: According to recordings, Inacker suggested a law company that could draft the NDA the Qataris were asking for. The document was later indeed drafted but apparently not signed.
According to the information of Berliner Zeitung, the two men were negotiating the details of the deal with Qatar. Inacker was supposed to receive a share of 300,000 Euro. “I wanna be fair to you”, Jason G. reportedly said, “you have been the most integral part in making the contact” with the diplomat. Inacker allegedly said that, if he was an enemy of Qatar, then he would make the story about Qatar and Hizbullah public. That would be, said Inacker, the former journalist, stuff for the cover page of the daily tabloid paper Bild.
Translation: Gabriela Keller