9/11 hijackers' mosque tied to recent terror plot against Europe


Mamoun-Darkazanli.jpg

Al Qaeda operative Mamoun Darkazanli ran the notorious Al Quds Mosque in Hamburg, Germany. AFP photo.

The recently uncovered terror plot against European cities, which was to involve attacks similar to the November 2008 attack in Mumbai, is tied to the same Hamburg mosque that was attended by some of the 9/11 hijackers.

The purported plot was discovered during the interrogation of a German citizen named Ahmed Siddiqui, who attended the Taiba mosque in Hamburg. The Taiba mosque gained infamy under its former name -- Al Quds. Al Qaeda's Hamburg cell for the 9/11 operation frequented the Al Quds mosque, where they were indoctrinated in the ways of jihad.

Siddiqui's ties to Taiba were previously reported by Der Spiegel. In a Sept. 6 piece titled, "Hamburg Islamist Speaks of Threat of Attacks in Germany," Der Spiegel reported that American forces had detained a German of Afghan descent named "Ahmad S." in Kabul.

During interrogations at the US base in Bagram, Ahmad S. spoke "extensively about attack scenarios in Germany and neighboring European countries." His full name was not known at the time, but "Ahmad S." is Ahmed Siddiqui.

Der Spiegel reported that Siddiqui was among a "total of around a dozen" terror suspects who disappeared from the Hamburg mosque during a "short period of time in 2009." The dozen suspects, including Siddiqui, "moved in circles close to Hamburg's Taiba mosque" and are suspected of training in terrorist camps along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Siddiqui's arrest in July 2010 may explain why the Taiba mosque was closed just weeks later in early August 2010. German authorities allowed the mosque to remain open for years, despite its numerous ties to terrorism and extremism. Then, suddenly, authorities raided and closed the mosque.

Siddiqui has ties to al Qaeda's Hamburg cell. According to Der Spiegel, Siddiqui regularly drove Mounir el Motassadeq's father to the jail where Mounir is imprisoned for visits. Mounir is serving a 15-year sentence in a German prison for his involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Der Spiegel noted that Siddiqui "also went on vacation with Motassadeq's family in Morocco" in 2002 and "worked at the Hamburg airport," just as Mounir Motassadeq did.

The imam

One of the more significant connections between Siddiqui and the 9/11 plotters may be the imam who ran the Al Quds-Taiba mosque: Mamoun Darkazanli.

Western intelligence agencies have long known that Darkazanali is an al Qaeda operative. [See LWJ report, Longtime al Qaeda operative runs mosque closed by German authorities.]

The imam has repeatedly avoided being brought to justice, however.

Darkazanli first popped up on the CIA's radar in 1993 when a man carrying false passports and counterfeit money was arrested in Africa and Darkazanli's phone number was found in his possession. Authorities failed to assemble a case against Darkazanli at the time. That same year, ironically, he purchased a ship named "Jennifer" for Osama bin Laden.

Darkazanli garnered the FBI's attention in 1998 after al Qaeda's bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. The FBI found Darkazanli's contact information in the address book of Wadi el Hage, Osama bin Laden's personal secretary. The bureau also learned that Darkazanli had power of attorney over a bank account owned by Abu Hajer al Iraqi, who is one of al Qaeda's founding members and was a senior member of bin Laden's organization at the time. Abu Hajer al Iraqi (whose real name is Mamdouh Mahmud Salim) was arrested in Germany and extradited to the US for his involvement in the embassy bombings.

Darkazanli's ties were scrutinized again in March 1999 when US officials learned he was in contact with a student named "Marwan." The student turned out to be Marwan al-Shehhi, one of the 9/11 hijackers.

Indeed, there is considerable evidence that Darkazanli and another Syrian named Mohammed Zammar were heavily involved with al Qaeda's Hamburg cell. The pair, who are veterans of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, likely played an important role in indoctrinating and financing the 9/11 hijackers.

Prior to 9/11, American authorities pressured the Germans to clamp down on Darkazanli. But German laws did not prohibit his involvement with a foreign terrorist organization at the time. After 9/11, the US and UN quickly added Darkazanli and his import-export business to the list of al Qaeda-affiliated entities.

Spanish officials sought Darkazanli's extradition in 2004 and 2005. They accuse Darkazanli of being involved with the al Qaeda cell in Madrid that was responsible for the March 11, 2004, train bombings. Darkazanli is a longtime compatriot of Imad Yarkas, who was one of Osama bin Laden's chief points of contact in Europe prior to 9/11 and ran the Madrid cell.

Darkazanli's extradition to Spain was blocked by a German court, however. The Germans found that the EU arrest warrant issued by Spain violated Germany's constitution. Darkazanli was allowed to go free - avoiding justice once again.

All of this raises the possibility that Darkazanli was involved in the most recent terror plot against Europe. It would not be surprising to learn that authorities are investigating any ties between Darkazanli and Siddiqui.

Darkazanli's mosque has been the epicenter for terrorist plotting before, including the most devastating terrorist attack in history.



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READER COMMENTS: "9/11 hijackers' mosque tied to recent terror plot against Europe"

Posted by kit at September 30, 2010 8:13 PM ET:

When will this guy slip on a piece of soap and break his neck?

Posted by kp at September 30, 2010 8:50 PM ET:

It has been reported that MI5 in the UK and some other intelligence agencies were not to happy to have the info about the Ahmed S released to the public before they'd finished their investigative work.

It would seem Der Speigel was the first to go public about this after the German Foreign Ministry made it public that the US had him in custody. I presume after the US told Germany they had him in custody in Afghanistan. I wonder how the BND feel about this?

The BKA doesn't quite seem to get the threat though at least they seem to have closed down this mosque. But what happened to the participants. Did they just move on?

Posted by JT at September 30, 2010 9:03 PM ET:

From a Dawn article regarding Panetta's meeting in Pakistan:

"Sources said the Pakistani leaders were stunned by Mr Panetta's menacing tone and assured him of intensifying the military offensive against militants in the tribal areas."

Posted by Shaun at October 1, 2010 6:49 AM ET:

It has already been reported that bin Laden is behind this plot but one name hasn't been mentioned yet and I wonder why: Ilyas Kashmiri. Before this Mumbai-type plot there had been reports of his network in Europe and I think he may be involved in it.

Posted by BraddS at October 1, 2010 11:10 AM ET:

"Sources said the Pakistani leaders were stunned by Mr Panetta's menacing tone and assured him of intensifying the military offensive against militants in the tribal areas."

The above is from the first page of the Pak Military Playbook..."promise to do more"...

Posted by Infidel4LIFE at October 1, 2010 11:39 AM ET:

This kind of mosque, where plans are hatched and extremists come from, should be SHUT DOWN. This is the only reason to do so. Subversive activities. When will Europe wake up? I hope this will not be tolerated in the US. Close that mosque, they really earned it.

Posted by ArneFufkin at October 2, 2010 11:26 AM ET:

It seems a lot of these guys have dents in their foreheads.