Suspected extremist linked to 9/11 reported captured in Syria
An Islamic extremist linked to recruitment of the 9/11 attackers has been captured while fighting in Syria, according to local forces.
Mohammed Haydar Zammar, an extremist from Germany believed to be in his 50s, was taken by Kurdish forces fighting in the north of the country, an unidentified commander told Agence France Presse on Wednesday.
Zammar was mentioned repeatedly in the 9/11 Commission’s findings, which said that the extremist known for his large size pressed others at a mosque in Hamburg towards terrorism including alleged 9/11 financer Ramzi Binalshibh.
It continued that he “fought in Afghanistan and relished any opportunity to extol the virtues of violent jihad” before claiming credit for influencing Binalshibh, 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta and others the “Hamburg Group” after the attack.
German prosecutors launched an investigation into Zammar, who left Germany in the weeks after 9/11 and headed to Morocco, according to a report by Der Spiegel in 2005 which said that German authorities believed he was not directly involved in the attack.
The newspaper said that he was taken into custody by Moroccan authorities and interrogated by the CIA, who later sent him to Syria and the Bashar Assad regime, known for its use of torture, at the end of 2001.
Zammar, who was born in Syria was sentenced to 12 years in prison in the country in 2007 for membership in the Muslim Brotherhood, according to the AFP, which noted that many extremists have been released during the long-running civil war.
Al Qaeda has links to the Al Nusra Front group of fighters in Syria, though the latter says that the organizations are no longer connected and it was not clear with which group Zammar was fighting.
Some Kurdish forces in Syria are backed by the U.S. and its coalition, though U.S. Department of Defense did not immediately respond to questions about Zammer’s reported captured.
Atta died in the Sept. 11 attack. Binalshibh is being held at Guantanamo Bay, where he is being tried by a military tribunal and says he has been subject to sleep deprivation.