An Islamic militant with connections to the 9/11 attackers has reportedly been captured by Kurdish fighters in Syria.
Mohammed Haydar Zammar was detained in northern Syria by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the U.S.-backed militia fighting the Islamic State, Agence France-Presse reported late Wednesday.
Zammar “has been arrested by Kurdish security forces in northern Syria and is now being interrogated,” AFP quoted an SDF commander as saying.
Germany’s Bild newspaper also reported that Zammar, a German citizen, had been detained. The newspaper cited Kurdish sources Tuesday saying he was being held by Kurdish People’s Defense Forces (YPG), a militia group with close ties to the SDF.
A Syrian-born German national who lived in Hamburg, Zammar is a known advocate of violent jihad who trained with mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan in the 1990s. The 9/11 Commission report described him as an “outspoken, flamboyant Islamist” and a “possible recruiter” of some members of the infamous Hamburg cell, which played a key role in the 9/11 plot.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, German authorities investigated Zammar on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist group, but he was released and fled the country. He later emerged in Syria, where he was sentenced in 2007 to 12 years in prison for belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood.
In 2013, after Syria had erupted into civil war, Zammar was let out of jail in a prisoner exchange between the Syrian government and Ahrar al-Sham, a militant Islamic rebel group. He was later photographed attending a meeting between ISIS militants and Syrian tribal leaders.
15. It’s unclear if Zammar was already a member of ISIS then or if he joined during/after the gathering. The muzzle of an AK-style assault rifle is visible next to him. pic.twitter.com/AhBXXoK73q
— Björn Stritzel (@bjoernstritzel) April 17, 2018
Over the past several months, the SDF have detained hundreds of suspected ISIS fighters who’ve fled their former positions in northern and eastern Syria. The U.S.-led coalition to defeat ISIS said it could not confirm the AFP or Bild reports, according to the BBC.
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