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The Edmonton Sun

Terrorist suspect 'good guy'

Terrorist suspect 'good guy'

'You'd think he was the perfect gentleman'


German prosecutors say he's a terrorist, but Lothar Ebke's old neighbours back in Yellowknife still say you couldn't hope to meet a nicer guy.

Ebke, 50, was running a tourism operation in the northern city before he was extradited by Canadian authorities to Germany in October.

Yesterday, German prosecutors formally charged Ebke with being a member of a leftist guerrilla group and taking part in terrorist acts in the 1980s and '90s.

"I'd hate to think he was (a terrorist). But what do I know?" said Ken Weaver. He and his brother David run a general store next to Ebke's old bed and breakfast in Yellowknife.

"All I know is that he was very quiet, always polite, never a harsh word to anyone. If you met him, you'd think he was the perfect gentleman."

Ebke was charged with being a member of the Berlin cell of the leftist Revolutionary Cells terror group between 1985 and 1993.

German prosecutors said Ebke is suspected of involvement in the shooting of two German government officials in 1986 and 1987, both of whom survived the attacks.

Ebke was also charged with participating in a 1991 attempt to blow up a Berlin landmark - the gilded angel atop the 67-metre Victory Column, raised to commemorate 19th-century Prussian military victories.

Both Ken and Dave Weaver said they used to see Ebke quite frequently because he shopped at their general store. They said they never heard him express a political opinion of any stripe.

"He's a good guy, never did anyone any wrong that we ever heard of," said Dave Weaver. "I don't think he ever even mentioned politics. Everyone up here was pretty surprised, believe me. It's up to the trial now. Me, I wish him well."

Ebke ran a side business restoring old boats. Ken said he admired Ebke's carpentry skills. "He was a handy guy. He'd take these old hulks and make them work and look like new."

John Thompson, a terrorism expert with the Mackenzie Institute, said the Revolutionary Cells group was an obscure leftist-anarchist group with a spotty track record.

"All these European pseudo-Marxist groups started popping up in the 1970s," he said. "The Revolutionary Cells had some ties to Palestinian terror groups and the IRA.

"They had a peak membership of maybe 100, never really accomplished anything. They were a bunch of middle-class kids, earnest left-wing idiots out to get the imperialists. They were amateurish, not very well-trained.

"I think the only time they managed to kill anyone was a West German minister shot to death in 1981, and that was an accident - they were only trying to wound him."