Monday, August 09, 2010

Germany Closes Hamburg Mosque After Terror Raid

From Bloomberg News:
German security officials raided and closed a Hamburg mosque where some of the al-Qaeda hijackers who carried out the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks met.

Taiba, an “Arab-German culture association” previously known as the al-Quds mosque, was shut down and banned today, the city-state’s security agency said in a statement on its website, without giving further details. Photos in the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper showed police entering the building and carrying out computers.

The Taiba mosque has again become a focal point for Islamists in Germany’s second-largest city, Abendblatt said on its website.

The Hamburg terror cell included three of the Sept. 11, 2001, suicide pilots, among them the lead hijacker Mohamed Atta, and plotters of the attacks on New York and Washington. Their meetings at the al-Quds mosque included the 1999 wedding of one of the alleged conspirators
UPDATE: More from AFP, including an Uzbek connection:
The mosque, with about 45 members, was still the main meeting point for Islamic extremists in the city, according to Hamburg authorities.

Between 200 and 250 people usually attended Friday prayers including Arabs, Iranians, Russians, Bosnians and German converts.

Its current imam, German-Syrian national Mamoun Darkazanli, is wanted by Spanish authorities as a suspected Al-Qaeda operative with alleged links to the cell behind the 2004 Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people.

Germany has refused to extradite him following a ruling by its highest court, and dropped its own case against him in 2006 for lack of evidence.

Earlier this year, German media reported that the CIA had singled Darkazanli out for targeted killing. The claims were never confirmed.

In a case officials described as decisive to the closing of the mosque, 10 men who regularly attended the prayer house travelled to the border region straddling Afghanistan and Pakistan in March last year, probably to attend militant training camps.

They are under investigation by German prosecutors on suspicion of founding a terrorist organisation.

At least one of the men allegedly joined the radical Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan while in Pakistan and later appeared in a German-language propaganda video in which he called for Muslims to take part in holy war, officials said.

Ahlhaus said Taiba had a sophisticated programme of courses, sermons, seminars and online publications to whip up hatred of "non-believers".

"We do not tolerate organisations that are levelled against the constitutional order and the idea of understanding between cultures in an aggressive, militant way," he said.

"But I underline that these measures are not targeted against the majority of the peace-loving, law-abiding Muslims in Hamburg."

The mosque belonged to the Salafist wing of Sunni Islam, a small fundamentalist minority among Germany's more than four million Muslims.