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From Gitmo to Hamburg?

Three terror detainees may soon be sent to the city that gave us Mohamed Atta.

12:27 PM, May 8, 2010 • By JOHN ROSENTHAL
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A spokesman for Hamburg mayor Ole von Beust has denied that the federal government has made an official requested for Hamburg to accept detainees. (The Bild report did not claim that it had.) In the meantime, according to the latest reports, the Merkel government has postponed any decision on detainees until after Sunday's regional elections in the German state of North-Rhine-Westphalia. According to Der Spiegel, Interior Minister de Maizière wants to have the matter resolved by May 27, when a conference of the interior ministers of the German states is scheduled to take place in Hamburg.

It remains to be seen whether the Obama administration is suffering from the same sort of amnesia concerning Germany’s role in global jihad as the German government and much of the German media appear to be. The question concerns not just Hamburg, but indeed Germany as such. Germany has been home to a veritable rogues’ gallery of terror operatives and enablers. These include not only all the various members and associates of the Hamburg Cell, but also Reda Seyam, the reputed al Qaeda financier of the 2002 Bali bombings, and Christian Ganczarski, who has been convicted by a French court for his role in the 2002 Djerba synagogue bombing. Both Seyam and the internationally-wanted al Qaeda financier Mamoun Darkazanli remain free men in Germany to this day. Germany has refused a Spanish extradition request for Darkazanli.

In February, moreover, German members of the European parliament led a revolt against the EU-U.S. SWIFT agreement, resulting in the agreement’s annulment. The agreement had permitted American terrorism investigators to examine selected data on bank transactions originating from European banks. Just weeks later, Germany’s Constitutional Court struck down an EU-mandated telecommunications data retention law, which had likewise been designed to facilitate counter-terrorism investigations. (On both developments, see my “Germany’s War on the War on Terror”.) As consequence, the potential for disrupting terror-related activities on German soil--or even just prosecuting them after the fact--has now been drastically reduced.

John Rosenthal writes regularly on European politics and transatlantic relations for various both old and new media. More of his work can be found at the Transatlantic Intelligencer blog (

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