The Blog

The Wanted: Mamoun Darkazanli

10:25 PM, Jul 27, 2009 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Mamoun Darkazanli -- the subject of tonight's The Wanted on NBC (9 pm) -- is probably one of the most interesting terrorists in the al Qaeda network. In addition to the financial assistance he provided the al Qaeda's Hamburg cell for the 9/11 attacks, Darkazanli compiled one of the more intriguing dossiers you will read.

Darkazanli was initially a member of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (SMB), which was once staunchly opposed to the Assad family's regime and, in fact, sponsored by Saddam's government, among others. The Syrian government, however, went through a couple of phases of rapprochement with the SMB. And SMB elements abroad ended up working for or with Syrian intelligence on some occasions. In all probability, Darkazanli and his fellow Syrian, Mohammed Zammar, who recruited lead 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta for al Qaeda, were both such SMB elements.

They ran the al Qaeda Hamburg cell, but prior to that they worked for a company called Tatex Trading. Tatex Trading was run by Abdul Matin Tatari -- a longtime backer of the Assad family. Tatari's eldest son was actually close with Mohammed Atta. After 9/11, German investigators found that Mohammed Hadi Tatari often visited Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi (another 9/11 hijacker) in their Hamburg apartment. A younger Tatari son also signed one of Mohammed Atta's petitions calling for an "Islamic studies" group to be formed at the Technical University of Hamburg, where both Atta and the Tatari son attended.

It gets much worse. Tatex had only two shareholders. One of them was Mohamad Majed Said, who was the head of the Syrian intelligence service from 1987 to 1994. In 2001, Said was also a member of the Syrian National Security Council -- the government's chief security apparatus.

All of this, and more, is why German intelligence officials have openly talked about "The Syrian Connection" to 9/11.

There is nothing to worry about though. Just because an ally openly talks about a hostile government's involvement with al Qaeda, it doesn't mean we should take it seriously. Indeed, the 9/11 Commission went out of its way to ignore all of this.

Darkazanli, as tonight's The Wanted showed, is still a free man. The Germans have refused to extradite him to Spain to stand trial for his involvement with the 3/11 Madrid train bombers and his other al Qaeda ties. After being captured in Morocco, Zammar was transferred to the Syrians with the blessing of the Bush administration. Zammar's transfer to the Syrians is one of the more bizarre episodes in the war on terror because it ensured that American investigators would not have direct access to him. There is simply no way the Syrians are going to tell us what Zammar and Darkzanli were really doing while working for Tatex, or how they ended up working for a Syrian intelligence front company.

One last thing: According to German intelligence, Darkazanli -- again, who helped finance 9/11 -- was involved in illicit trade deals with the Iraqi regime under the oil-for-food program. Darkazanli shipped mercury heat lamps through a Jordanian intermediary to Saddam's government. Those lamps were so-called "dual use" items that had legitimate purposes but could also be used in WMD development projects.

None of this appeared in tonight's show, but it was still worth watching.