World

Suspected al-Qaeda financier detained

Posted: October 15, 2004
Last Updated: October 15, 2004

German authorities arrested an al-Qaeda suspect wanted by Spain on charges that he was a "key figure" in the terror network for years, they said Friday.

Mamoun Darkazanli, 46, who holds both Syrian and German citizenship, was detained on a Spanish warrant Friday in the northern port city of Hamburg.

He is being held for possible extradition to Spain, a city judicial spokesperson said.

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Darkazanli is suspected to have been, "since 1997, in Spain, in Germany and in Great Britain, one of the key figures in the al-Qaeda network, active in giving logistical and financial support," the Hamburg judiciary said in a press release.

Spanish authorities claim he was "Osama bin Laden's permanent representative and assistant in Germany," the release said.

If extradited, Darkazanli could face up to 12 years in prison for belonging to a terrorist organization.

An extradition would take place only on three conditions:

Darkazanli first hit the headlines after the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S., when it emerged that German and U.S. intelligence had been monitoring his activities for several years, off and on.

As it turned out, he knew three of the key Sept. 11 hijackers from the so-called Hamburg cell: Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehi and Ziad Jarrah. All four attended the same radical Hamburg mosque.

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He is also reportedly connected to the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, and was the co-signatory on the Hamburg bank account of one suspect in the bombing, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim.

Darkazanli, who said Friday he would fight the extradition request, has always denied any involvement with al-Qaeda.

The U.S. added his Hamburg export-import company to its list of banned terrorist organizations after Sept. 11.