Covassi, a convert to Islam, now says that he was forced by his superiors to frame the brother of the famous and notorious Tariq Ramadan, Hani. It is interesting that he believes that he is required to shift his loyalties now that he has become a Muslim. It is also interesting that Hani Ramadan really doesn’t need any framing; he was quite clear about his loyalties and intentions when he wrote an article a few years ago in a French magazine, advocating stoning for adultery.
“Swiss Spy in a War of Words,” from the LA Times, with thanks to all who sent this in:
GENEVA “” Along with banks and chocolates, this placid lakefront city has another claim to fame: It is full of spies.
Claude Covassi, a broad-shouldered, gray-eyed martial arts expert, was one of them. He became an informant for Swiss intelligence in early 2004, converted to Islam and infiltrated fundamentalist circles here in his hometown. He followed the trail of holy warriors all the way to mosques in Syria where aspiring foreign “martyrs” are groomed for Iraq.
But in February, the secret agent went explosively public. He revealed his mission to its prime target, a Muslim scholar here who has been periodically accused of extremism, and gave newspaper interviews accusing his handlers of trying to frame the cleric. Since then, Covassi has unleashed everything from confidential documents to details of clandestine operations.
The former spy insists that he abandoned his masquerade because he found faith.
“It is not great speeches that convinced me but the force of prayer and understanding of the Koran,” Covassi, 36, said in a recent interview by e-mail from his refuge in Egypt. “Islam transformed my existence.”
But Swiss anti-terrorism officials reject his allegations and accuse him of a personal vendetta. It’s unclear who was manipulating whom.
The intelligence oversight committee of the Swiss congress is investigating the case. But doubts persist, especially regarding Covassi’s allegation that spymasters plotted to smear the controversial Islamic scholar Hani Ramadan by linking him to Iraq-bound militants. Ramadan’s brother, Tariq, is an internationally known Islamic intellectual.