Germany continued to be a dedicated and important participant in the global coalition against terrorism; cooperation with the United States remained solid. Throughout 2004 German law enforcement authorities conducted numerous actions against individuals, organizations, and mosques suspected of involvement in terrorism. In some cases, hundreds of individuals and vehicles were searched, which resulted in arrests for document fraud, illegal residency, and weapons violations.
To improve coordination of state and federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, in December 2004 Interior Minister Schily announced establishment of a Berlin-based "Information and Analysis Center" that will bring together all agencies involved in the German fight against terrorism. In 2004, the German Federal Criminal Office also established an Office for International Coordination to improve counterterrorism collaboration with foreign law enforcement authorities. In July, Germany adopted a new immigration law containing provisions to strengthen Germany's fight against terrorism. The new law took effect in January 2005.
Germany is currently investigating almost 200 cases of terrorism nationwide, but has at times had difficulties in convicting terrorist suspects. The 2003 conviction of Moroccan citizen Mounir el Motassadeq for accessory to murder and membership in the "Hamburg cell" that had formed around 9/11 suicide pilot Mohammed Atta was overturned and Motassadeq was released in April pending a retrial, despite what the court called "strong evidence" of his membership in a terrorist organization. His retrial began in August. A trial on similar charges against another "Hamburg cell" suspect, Moroccan citizen Abdelghani Mzoudi, ended with his acquittal in February. Prosecutors filed an appeal. German authorities have initiated deportation proceedings against both Motassadeq and Mzoudi.
Other notable 2004 arrests and indictments include the cases of several alleged members of the Iraq-based terrorist group Ansar al-Islam. Three Iraqi alleged members of Ansar al-Islam were arrested in December on charges of plotting an attack on Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi during his visit to Berlin. Tunisian national Ishan Garnoui was indicted by the Federal Prosecutor in January 2004 for attempted formation of a terrorist organization with the intention to unleash explosive attacks on US and Jewish targets in Germany. He was convicted in April 2005 on charges of tax evasion, illegal possession of weapons, and violation of the immigration law, but was acquitted on terrorism charges.
German authorities deported Turkish extremist Metin Kaplan to Turkey, where authorities detained him to face numerous charges, including treason. German authorities made several indictments and arrests related to the Turkish terrorist group PKK/KADEK/Kongra-Gel, although one prominent PKK suspect was later released.
German prosecutors were unsuccessful in bringing indictments against several prominent al-Qa'ida suspects, including German national Christian Ganczarski, a suspect in the April 2002 bombing of a Tunisian synagogue in which several German citizens were killed. Similarly, authorities were unable to indict Syrian-German dual national Mamoun Darkazanli, but he is in custody and authorities are seeking to extradite him to Spain, where a 2003 arrest warrant accuses him of membership in and providing logistical and financial support to al-Qa'ida. In November, the Federal Constitutional Court blocked his extradition pending its review of the constitutionality of the new European Arrest Warrant.
In 2002 the German Interior Ministry banned the al-Aqsa Foundation on the grounds of providing financial support to HAMAS. In July 2003, a German court temporarily lifted the ban pending a final court ruling, although it also imposed financial reporting requirements on al-Aqsa. In December 2004, following a court ruling upholding the 2002 ban on the al-Aqsa Foundation, German law enforcement officials searched more than 30 al-Aqsa offices nationwide. The Interior Ministry has banned the extremist Islamic association Hizb ut-Tahrir – based outside Germany – from any activity within the country and has seized the association's assets in Germany. The US Government has no evidence that Hizb ut-Tahrir has committed any terrorist acts, but the group's radical anti-US and anti-Semitic ideology is sympathetic to acts of violence against the United States and its allies, and it has publicly called on Muslims to travel to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight Coalition forces.