How different countries catch their “most wanted”

How different countries go about finding their “most wanted” tells a lot about the respective country.


The US invades the country where the culprit is located, sometimes invading another country in the process. It locks up hundreds of people, regardless of whether they actually have anything to do with the person they are after. It reads all your e-mails and spies on every country in the world. Thousands of people are killed in the process, which takes at least a decade and costs a trillion dollars. During that time, US citizens are advised not to travel anywhere. In the end, Osama bin Laden is found, possibly after giving himself up, and killed in a daring and admirable raid.

Oddly enough, after this success, the US continues to keep the hundreds in Guantanamo locked up and it continues to read your e-mails. With no end in sight.


Belgian police arrested two Somali pirates which it sought for masterminding the hijacking of a Belgian ship in 2009. How did they get them? The Belgian officers posed as a film crew and over several months gained the trust of the pirates, until they lured the pirates to Brussels, where the contract for the documentary film was allegedly to be signed.

Smart and creative, and even though the planned documentary on the pirates may have fallen through, this story is worthy of a film itself. A bit like Argo.


Germany uses a completely different approach, especially when it concerns Nazi criminals like Adolf Eichmann or Aribert Heim.

It pretends that it doesn’t know where they are. If pressure to arrest them mounts, the suspects always receive a tip off in due time and manage to escape to South America or to an Arab country. Then Germany will again pretend for several decades that they don’t know where the fugitives are, until they die of old age. Curiously, German intelligence files will then often reveal that the German government knew exactly where these mass murderers were.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Belgium, Germany, History, Holocaust, Law, Terrorism, USA and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to How different countries catch their “most wanted”

  1. Matteo says:

    “German intelligence files will then often reveal that the German government knew exactly where these mass murderers were.” — Proof? I highly doubt they knew where they went.

  2. Craig Fiery says:

    Many governments do that. Here’s another example:

  3. dino bragoli says:

    Thankfully they will die of old age as will I…
    But when they die they emit a message which says don’t ever let it happen again. A grim reminder.
    In the meantime they can look over their shoulder.

  4. dino bragoli says:

    Belgium’s aproach was cute and most amusing but I would imagine that it would be an evidential nightmare,
    it’s a film so why wouldn’t they be acting?

  5. radius says:

    Response to Matteo “…Proof? I highly doubt they knew where they went…”

    The question is not so much whether or they new it in every single case. The question is if they WANTED TO KNOW ! Why was the Mossad capable to locate Eichmann in the late 50s, when Israel had no lobby worldwide, there was no electronic surveillance techniques, and Israel would have had plenty of other purposes to spent its ressources for. The German intelligence (“organisation Gehlen”), in contrast, had all the connections to the emigrated Nazis in South America, they knew the postal addresses of each of them, Germany had tight connections to the government in Argentina. But they simply had no interest in hunting the former Nazis, cause they still a a clandestine lobby in the post-war German politics (in particular in the intelligence service and among the general prosecutors and the judges).
    The German government also knew exactly where Demianiuk was hiding in the US: it took them ages to negotiate his extradiction. They also knew where Erich Priebke, the SS-commander responsible for a masacre of more than 300 Italian people, was hiding in Argentina. The German government even issued him in the early 50s a fresh passport. They waited more than 40 years (!!!) before submitting an extradiction request, knowing exactly that by waiting so long, until the suspects are old enough, there are always hundreds of reasons to appeal, usually the murderers are to sick, or the crime they commited falls under a Statue of Time Limitations.
    This was the common procedure, exactly as Andreas described it above.
    regards, michael

    • Dante says:

      But they simply had no interest in hunting the former Nazis,…

      Why “former”? Do you think no one could be an actual Nazi any more after the war because the Nazi party had been forbidden and disbanded? This doesn’t matter. Of course, there were a huge amount of turncoats who, after the war, “ever had been upright democrats at heart” – German-so-called-Wendehaelse.
      But such a man may have served as a cog in the machinery rather than excelled in murdering people for “racial” reasons or so. The latter were and stayed Nazis after the war, e.g. given Klaus Barbie who systematized torture in Bolivia long after the war.

  6. Ex-Vermieter says:

    Some Nazis left Germany after WW 2, others got into parliament.

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