German authorities said Friday they have detained a Syrian-born German suspected of being a leading figure in Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network with the aim of extraditing him to Spain.
Darkazanli allegedly was Osama bin Laden's assistant in Germany
A court in Hamburg, northern Germany, said it had issued an arrest warrant for Mamoun Darkazanli. He is accused of being "one of the key figures of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network and providing logistical and financial support for this organization since 1997 in Spain, Germany and Britain."
He is believed to have had ties with the so-called Hamburg cell that allegedly produced three of the Sept. 11 suicide hijackers.
Court spokeswoman Sabine Westphalen said in a statement that Darkazanli had been arrested after a formal request from Madrid.
She said he was accused in Spain of "membership in a terrorist organization," which in Spain can carry a 12-year prison sentence.
"He is believed to have been the constant interlocutor and assistant of Osama bin Laden in Germany and to have been particularly involved in the transfer of documents and the payment of bills," Westphalen said.
She said the Spanish authorities believed Darkazanli was involved in buying a ship -- reportedly an ocean-going cargo freighter -- for bin Laden and had traveled to Kosovo in 2000 on behalf of Al-Qaeda. She did not give details.
Westphalen said three final conditions had to be met for his extradition to Spain -- a further order from a Spanish court, the approval of that order by the Hamburg court and a green light from the German government. In Sept. 2001, US President George W. Bush froze the assets of the Mamoun Darkazanli Import-Export Company, along with those of 26 other individuals and groups he said were linked to terrorism.