After a US magazine reported the CIA spied on and planned to assassinate a Syrian-German alleged al-Qaeda financier, federal prosecutors have launched an investigation. Berlin denies knowledge of the CIA's operation.
Darkazanli was arrested in 2004 but later released
Federal prosecutors in Hamburg are investigating claims that the CIA secretly plotted to assassinate a Syrian-German suspected al-Qaeda financier living in Hamburg.
In its January issue, US magazine Vanity Fair reported that the American intelligence agency secretly dispatched a hit team to Hamburg in 2004 to spy on and assassinate businessman Mamoun Darkazanli, 51. A spokesman for the Hamburg prosecutors office said it has launched an investigation into possible wrongdoing.
The magazine article states the CIA team, composed of employees of the private security firm Blackwater, did not inform German authorities of their presence. The German government has denied any knowledge of the operation.
The CIA allegedly spied on Darkazanli for weeks without informing German authorities
But some opposition politicians are skeptical of the government's ignorance. Green party parliamentarian Hans-Christian Stroebele said it was the government's job to monitor foreign intelligence agencies in Germany.
"It can't be true that they knew nothing," Stroebele told the daily newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt.
Alleged 9/11 connections
The United States has long held that Darkazanli helped finance al Qaeda and had connections to the Hamburg-based terrorist cell that carried out the September 11 attacks. He has repeatedly denied the allegations.
German authorities themselves investigated Darkazanli for years but never brought charges against him. Police arrested him in October 2004 on a Spanish extradition request, but he was released on court order nine months later.
Editor: Nancy Isenson