Alwan next created a line of cosmetics, selling an eye shadow named "Whisper" in Arabic. That failed amid allegations that he cheated his suppliers, Freah said.
Alwan already had fled. Officials say smugglers helped him make his way through Jordan, Egypt, Libya and Morocco before he reached southern Germany in late 1999. He brought no blueprints, photos or other evidence, but he quickly won the confidence of the BND officers.
"He was understated," said one former BND officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case. "He was the opposite of a braggart, and that was impressive."
The BND set him up in a small apartment and provided living expenses. Alwan started dressing in stylish suits, bought a heavy gold necklace and kept a cupboard stocked with whiskey, according to former neighbors. He left his TV blaring all day and hit a local disco at night.
He arranged to divorce the wife he had left in Baghdad and married a Moroccan woman. They now have two children. The family moved to Erlangen and then to another German location that The Times agreed not to disclose.
Alwan's fanciful accounts to BND officers were echoed in his tall tales to friends and co-workers.
In early 2002, a year before the war, he told co-workers at the Burger King that he spied for Iraqi intelligence and would report any fellow Iraqi worker who criticized Hussein's regime.
They couldn't decide if he was dangerous or crazy.
"During breaks, he told stories about what a big man he was in Baghdad," said Hamza Hamad Rashid, who remembered an odd scene with the pudgy Alwan in his too-tight Burger King uniform praising Hussein in the home of der Whopper. "But he always lied. We never believed anything he said."
Another Iraqi friend, Ghazwan Adnan, remembers laughing when he applied for a job at a local Princess Garden Chinese Restaurant and discovered Alwan washing dishes in the back while claiming to be "a big deal" in Iraq. "How could America believe such a person?"
But an unrepentant Alwan is unfazed.
"Everything I said was true," he said. "And everything that's been written about me is wrong. It's all wrong. The main thing is, I'm an honest man."