Al-Qaeda Financier Remains a Free Man in Germany

Last month, the Domestic Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag announced that it will hold inquiries into an alleged CIA plan to kill Mamoun Darkazanli, a German-Syrian resident of Hamburg. The German federal prosecutor’s office is reportedly likewise considering opening an investigation into the matter.

The moves were prompted by a Vanity Fair profile of Erik Prince, the founder and chairman of the private military contractor Blackwater. It is mentioned in passing in the article that the company, at one point, received a commission from the CIA to track Darkazanli and possibly to kill him. The supposed plan, however, was never carried out due to a “lack of political will.” “Frankly, I’m speechless,” Darkazanli told the popular German tabloid Bild. “That’s a contract for murder.”

There are numerous reasons to treat the report with caution: among others, the fact that the only source given for it is anonymous. Nonetheless, when the story first began making the rounds in early January, politicians from all of Germany’s major political parties reacted with outrage. Since, however, there is nothing to discuss but an unsubstantiated claim, the Bundestag’s inquiries can be expected to end quickly and without any notable result.

What might prove more fruitful would be to devote hearings to the supposedly intended “victim” in the affair. For, as the Chicago Tribune put it in an October 5, 2003, report, the list of those with whom the Hamburg-based businessman has had financial ties reads like a veritable "Who’s Who of al-Qaeda."

According to the report, Darkazanli first came to the attention of American intelligence services in 1998 at the latest. At the time, he was an associate of Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, the jihadist financier and alleged al-Qaeda co-founder. Salim has been charged as a co-conspirator in the 1998 bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He is presently serving a 32-year prison sentence in a Colorado maximum security prison for a vicious attack on a New York prison guard that cost the victim an eye and left him brain-damaged.

Salim had Darkazanli’s phone number saved in his cell phone and he is supposed to have visited him frequently in Germany. Starting in 1995, moreover, Darkazanli had power of attorney over Salim’s bank account at a branch of the Deutsche Bank in Hamburg. As reported by the German weekly Focus in October 2001, Darkazanli claims that the account was set up to purchase antennas for a radio station in the Sudan, but that the business never got off the ground. As reported in the British press, Darkazanli’s personal details were also found in a diary connected to Rangzieb Ahmed, a UK-based Qaeda-operative who in December 2008 was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in planning terror attacks.

As noted in a December 27, 2001, article in the New York Times, in the 1990s Darkazanli and the since convicted Qaeda co-conspirator Wadih El-Hage purchased a ship on behalf of Osama bin Laden. Is it a mere coincidence that the ship in question docked in the Saudi harbor of Jidda in late October 1995 and then set sail again merely one day before the November 13, 1995, attack on an American-operated military training center in the Saudi capital of Riyadh? Five Americans were killed in the attack.

In October 1999, Said Bahaji got married at the Al-Quds mosque in Hamburg. Bahaji was a roommate of Mohammed Atta and he is suspected of having provided logistical support to the Hamburg terror cell. The entire Hamburg al-Qaeda scene appears to have turned out for the wedding, including Mohamed Atta, Ramzi Binalshibh, and Mounir al-Motassadeq. Darkazanli was Bahaji’s best man. Mohammed Fizazi was an imam at the mosque, where he preached, among other things, about how “the Jews and crusaders must have their throats slit” (source: Washington Post, September 11, 2002). Fizazi is reported to have had contacts with the perpetrators of both the Madrid and Casablanca bombings, as well as the 9/11 hijackers (source: Los Angeles Times, July 6, 2005).