The German government said on Monday it knew nothing about a magazine report that the CIA had planned a secret operation to kill a German-Syrian in Hamburg.
The U.S. magazine Vanity Fair had reported that the CIA had in 2004 sent a team from the private security firm Blackwater, now Xe, to Hamburg to kill Mamoun Darkazanli, who was investigated for years by German authorities on suspicion of links to al Qaeda.
January's edition of the magazine cited a source familiar with the programme as saying the mission had been kept secret from the German government.
The report has been widely picked up in the German media and could become a source of tension between Washington and Berlin. The CIA declined to comment.
Darkazanli has been accused by the United States of allegedly financing Osama bin Laden's network and has been blacklisted by the United Nations.
Vanity Fair reported that the CIA had dispatched a hit squad of Blackwater employees to Hamburg in 2004.
"Among the team's targets, according to a source familiar with the program, was Mamoun Darkazanli, an al Qaeda financier living in Hamburg who had been on the agency's radar for years because of his ties to three of the 9/11 hijackers and to operatives convicted of the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa," wrote Vanity Fair.
"The CIA team supposedly went in 'dark', meaning they did not notify their own station -- much less the German government -- of their presence; they then followed Darkazanli for weeks and worked through the logistics of how and where they would take him down," reported the magazine.
However, Washington authorities "chose not to pull the trigger", it said.
Asked about the report at a news conference, a German government spokesman said he had no information on the subject.
Darkazanli was one of 35 people charged by a Spanish judge in 2003 with belonging to al Qaeda. But he was released from a German prison in 2005 after the country's top court blocked his extradition to Spain on an EU arrest warrant.
German authorities had investigated Darkazanli for years for his links to the Hamburg cell that led the Sept. 11 attacks.
Friction between Germany and the United States has already been caused by the case of Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese descent who says he was arrested in Macedonia in 2003 and flown by the CIA to Afghanistan and held until May 2004. He was never charged.
ReutersLast Mod: 05 Ocak 2010, 11:18