LONDON, Sep 20 (Reuters) An Iraqi Kurd sentenced to seven years' jail in Germany last year for aiding the Iraqi insurgency is being freed early and removed from a United Nations terrorism blacklist, sources close to the case say.
Lokman Amin Mohammed, 33, was this week taken off the UN's al Qaeda and Taliban sanctions list at Germany's request, as a reward for cooperating with the authorities and providing evidence in other trials.
''At the same time that he's now getting released from prison, he's been taken off the list,'' said one source familiar with the case.
''He's been helping prosecutors in other cases, providing information and so forth, so much so that he now needs some sort of witness protection and therefore needs to be taken off the (sanctions) list.'' A German justice ministry spokesman said he had no information on the possible release of Mohammed, whose address is given on the U.N.
sanctions Web site as Stadelheim prison, Munich.
His case resembles that of Shadi Abdalla, a former bodyguard to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden who was convicted of planning attacks in Germany but also freed early, in 2004, given a new identity and removed from the UN list.
However, Mohammed was a ''bigger fish'' than Abdalla, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In January last year, Mohammed became the first person convicted in Germany under a new law, introduced after the September 11 attacks on America in 2001, that banned membership of foreign terrorist organisations.
Prosecutors said he was a leading figure in Western Europe for Ansar al-Islam, an insurgent group which the United States had linked to al Qaeda.
They said Mohammed provided money and medical and communications equipment for Ansar al-Islam and recruited fighters, one of whom carried out a suicide attack in Iraq.
He was also accused of illegally smuggling wounded Iraqi fighters into Europe for medical treatment, including a bomb-maker who had lost both hands in an accidental blast and was brought to Britain via Italy and France in 2003.
Mohammed's was the first of several trials in Germany involving alleged members of Ansar al-Islam. In one case, three supporters of the group are accused of plotting to assassinate visiting Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi in Berlin in 2004.
Under international law, all countries are obliged to freeze the assets of individuals who appear on the U.N. terrorism sanctions list, prevent them from entering or crossing their territory and deny them access to weapons.
Delistings are still rare. In 2004, Germany took months of negotiation to overcome US objections to lifting the sanctions against Abdalla.
But one official said the delisting of Mohammed had been ''remarkably straightforward''. In the past year, Security Council members have taken steps to reform the sanctions regime and make it easier to remove people deemed no longer a threat.
REUTERS GT ND2216