German cooperation with the United States on the counterterrorism front remained strong, although sometimes limited by German laws and procedures. Throughout the year, German law enforcement authorities conducted numerous actions against individuals, organizations, and mosques suspected of involvement in terrorism. In some cases, German authorities charged individuals with membership in terrorist organizations, specifically al-Qaida, Ansar al-Islam, or the Kongra-Gel/PKK. In other instances, German officials took action against crimes such as document fraud, illegal residency, or weapons law violations.
As of the end of the year, German authorities were investigating 186 cases of terrorism-related crimes nationwide; there were a few high profile cases where German courts did not convict suspects accused of terrorism and related crimes.
German laws and traditional procedures, as well as the courts' long-standing and expansive view of civil liberties, sometimes limited the success of cases prosecutors brought to trial. On August 19, a Hamburg court convicted Moroccan citizen Mounir el Motassadeq in a retrial for his membership in a terrorist organization and sentenced him to seven years in prison. A Hamburg court released another "Hamburg cell" suspect, Moroccan citizen Abdelghani Mzoudi, in February 2004, based on the claim that prosecutors were unable to obtain potentially exculpatory evidence presumably held by the United States. Prosecutors appealed, but on June 9 a federal court upheld the acquittal. German officials had already begun the process to expel Mzoudi when he voluntarily departed Germany for Morocco on June 21, on the eve of his deportation.
On December 15, a German panel of three judges released Mohammed Ali Hamadi, convicted by a German court in 1989 for the 1985 killing of U.S. Navy diver Robert D. Stethem and the hijacking of a TWA flight. Although sentenced to life in prison, according to German law Hamadi was eligible for parole after 15 years' imprisonment. The judicial panel rejected Hamadi's release when they first considered it in late 2001. When he was released, Hamadi had served 19 years in jail. Senior USG officials had strongly urged German authorities not to release Hamadi.
On May 31, a Bavarian court began the trial of Iraqi citizen Lokman Amin Mohammed, accused of logistical, financial, and recruiting support for Ansar al-Islam.
German law enforcement officials arrested three alleged members of Ansar al-Islam in December 2004 on charges of plotting an attack on then-Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi during his visit to Berlin. On November 16, the Federal Prosecutor formally charged them with the planned murder of Allawi, financial crimes, and membership in, financing, and recruiting for a foreign terrorist organization. All three remained in custody with legal proceedings underway.
A Berlin court convicted Tunisian national Ishan Garnaoui on April 6 on charges of tax evasion, illegal possession of weapons, and violation of the immigration law. The court sentenced him to three years and nine months in prison, but acquitted him of the terrorism charges. Prosecutors are appealing the terrorism acquittal. Garnaoui was first arraigned in March 2003 for attempting to form a terrorist organization and planning to attack U.S. and Jewish targets in Germany.
On October 26, a Düsseldorf court convicted four members of the al Tawhid terrorist group on charges of membership in a terrorist organization, forgery, and violations of weapons laws. They were sentenced to prison terms ranging from five to eight years. The court established that the group's leader was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and that the defendants had planned terrorist attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets in Berlin and Düsseldorf.
In October 2004, German authorities arrested Syrian-German dual national Mamoun Darkazanli for extradition to Spain, where a 2003 arrest warrant accused him of membership in al-Qaida and providing it logistical and financial support. German authorities used the new EU arrest warrant, which enables swifter German extradition of its own citizens. On July 18, however, the German Constitutional Court voided the German law implementing the EU arrest warrant, criticized its lack of protections for German nationals, and ordered Darkazanli released. The Justice Minister immediately announced she would act to get the provision reinstated. German authorities have not indicted Darkazanli under German law.
The German Interior Ministry used its authority under the Law on Associations to ban organizations that it believed were connected to terrorist groups. Germany has banned a number of such organizations in recent years. On August 30, the Interior Ministry banned Yatim Children's Aid on the grounds of its being a successor organization to al-Aqsa. The Interior Ministry had banned the al-Aqsa Foundation in 2002 on the grounds that it provided financial support to HAMAS; a German court upheld the ban in 2004. The European Union added al-Aqsa to its list of entities subject to asset freezes in 2005, following a German proposal. On February 25, Germany banned the Yeni Akit publishing house in Moerfelden-Walldorf on the grounds of distributing anti-Semitic, anti-Western, and anti-Israeli propaganda.
German authorities issued several indictments and made a number of arrests related to the Turkish terrorist group Kongra-Gel/PKK. The Federal Prosecutor charged some with positions of leadership in Kongra-Gel fundraising. German officials arrested one prominent suspect, but a German court subsequently released him, finding that there was insufficient evidence from Turkey, which had requested his extradition. On September 5 the Interior Ministry banned E. Xani Press and Publishing Company, publisher of the pro Kongra-Gel newspaper "Ozgur Politika", on the grounds of its being its mouthpiece.
E. Xani appealed the ban, and at the end of October the courts suspended the ban.
Germany participated in Department of Homeland Security programs to combat terrorism, including the Container Security Initiative in the ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven. The Transportation Security Administration's presence in Frankfurt, together with U.S. and German air marshals, formed key parts of bilateral efforts to provide air transport security for the six German airports with flights to the United States.
In a German initiative, Germany and five other EU countries signed an agreement on May 27 that deepened law enforcement cooperation. The agreement enabled faster sharing of information, DNA, and fingerprint data.
Germany proposed several names for designation by the UN Security Council 1267 Committee to enable worldwide asset freezes and travel bans. The United Nations added those names to its list of individuals and entities on December 6.