Skip to comments.Case Closed Against Business in Germany to Avoid Antagonizing Syrian Government
Posted on 01/18/2004 9:01:49 AM PST by Brian Mosely
NEWSWEEK: Case Closed Against Syrian-Owned Business in Germany to Avoid Antagonizing Syrian Government, Officials Suggest
Sunday January 18, 10:11 am ET
Police Reports Show Employees Had Al Qaeda Connections; One Believed to Have Recruited Muhammad Atta in Hamburg
# NEW YORK, Jan. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- After a September 2002 raid near Hamburg, Germany, of a Syrian-owned textile business called Tatex that was suspected of terrorist ties, German prosecutors began preparing their case and the U.S. considered freezing Tatex's bank accounts, as it had done in dozens of other companies suspected of financing terrorism. Then last summer, the German government quietly closed the investigation and decided against prosecuting the company and the U.S. never touched Tatex's assets, Newsweek reports in the current issue.(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20040118/NYSU006 )
Some U.S. and German officials suggest that both countries decided not to proceed with legal action against Tatex to avoid antagonizing the government of Syria, reports Investigative Correspondent Mark Hosenball in the January 26 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, January 19). Since September 11, administration officials say, Syria has sometimes been a helpful partner in U.S. antiterror efforts. Officials say Syria has frozen millions of dollars in assets that Saddam Hussein had stashed in Syrian banks and Syrian officials boast that they have opened their Qaeda files to the CIA, and insist that Osama bin Laden's network is as much a threat to them as to the West.
In return, some hard-liners say, the U.S. and its allies have rewarded Syria by downplaying its unsavory activities. Germany's national-security adviser, Ernst Uhrlau, says that politics played no role in the decision to drop the Tatex case. Publicly, German officials say there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute. But other officials close to the case say the government insisted the dossier be closed, for what one called "foreign-policy reasons."
For years, German authorities had been keeping close watch on Tatex. According to German police reports shown to Newsweek, some of the firm's past employees appeared to have Qaeda connections. One was close to bin Laden's personal secretary. Another, Mohammed Haydar Zammar, was believed to have recruited Muhammad Atta and the other September 11 hijackers in Hamburgthen sent them to Afghanistan, where they planned the attacks with bin Laden.
Sources close to the case tell Newsweek that Syria had been secretly involved with the company for years. In 1999, a former Syrian intelligence chief named Mohammed Majed Said bought about 15 percent of Tatex's stock. Some German investigators speculate that Syrian intelligence may have infiltrated the company as a cover to spy on Hamburg's community of extremist Syrian exiles. Others believe the company was used as a front to illegally acquire high-tech equipment from the West. (Tatex officials have repeatedly denied any connection with terrorism or Syrian intelligence. Said could not be reached.)
Avoid antagonizing them? Hell, we should be invading them.
Nothing will happen until after the election. The Syrians will dig their grave deeper in the meantime. The US has to be prepared for the whole region - Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and maybe even Pakistan to implode simultaneously.
old AQ & Syria ping
Thanks! (Catching up on the long FR outage here.)
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