German intelligence chief outlines cooperation with Syria over 9/11

7th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

Chief says priorities changed after the attacks.

Berlin -- The head of Germany's internal intelligence service outlined to parliament Thursday how his organization had cooperated with Syria from 2002, in particular with regard to a German-Syrian linked to the September 11 attacks the previous year.

Heinz Fromm told the Bundestag's investigative committee that intelligence priorities had changed after the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

The Verfassungsschutz -- the internal intelligence service -- had reluctantly decided on cooperation with Syrian intelligence officials, he said.

Fromm was questioned on Haydar Zammar, a German-Syrian Islamist, beind held in Syria. Zammar is linked to the cell around Mohammed Atta, who helped plan the September 11 attack from Hamburg and participated in it.

Verfassungsschutz agents had travelled to Damascus in November 2002 to interrogate Zammar in the interests of German security, Fromm said.

Zammar had told them he had been beaten while in custody in Syria and previously in Morocco, where he was initially detained in late 2001. But he had not given the impression of being under duress during the interrogation.

Fromm said Zammar had provided useful information.

German intelligence had been observing Zammar before the September 11 attacks, after linking him to Islamists in Hamburg, the Verfassungsschutz chief said.

The Bundestag committee heard that the German national police - the BKA - had passed details on Zammar's movements to the US in the autumn of 2001.

This had led to his arrest in Morocco and his subsequent deportation to Syria under circumstances that remain unclear.

According to the information, Zammar, who received German citizenship in 1982, was initially sentenced to death for his membership of the Muslim Brotherhood. The sentence was commuted to 12 years.

In June 2006, the Washington Post reported that American and German investigators had identified Zammar as having recruited the Hamburg-based suicide hijackers.

DPA with Expatica

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