'Flamboyant' jihadi linked to 9/11 terror cell captured by Kurdish forces in Syria




 

A Syrian-German jihadist linked to the 9/11 attacks on the United States has been captured in Syria by US-backed forces, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

Mohammad Haydar Zammar, who has been accused of recruiting some of the 9/11 Al-Qaeda hijackers, was captured over a month ago by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led militia backed by the US.

News of his capture was first reported on Wednesday by the Kurdish group. The Pentagon had said it was looking into the reports before confirming Zammar's arrest.

"We can confirm that Mohammad Haydar Zammar, a Syrian-born German national, was captured more than a month ago by SDF partners as part of their ongoing operations to defeat ISIS inside Syria," Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said, using an alternate name for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

"We are working with our SDF partners to obtain additional details," Pahon said.

The 9/11 Commission report into the attacks in Washington and New York that led to the deaths of almost 3,000 people described Zammar as an "outspoken, flamboyant Islamist" who "had fought in Afghanistan and relished any opportunity to extol the virtues of violent jihad."

According to the report, Zammar took credit for influencing people linked to the attacks including Mohammed Atta, who hijacked an American Airlines plane and flew it into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Zammar had come into contact with Atta and others linked to the attacks while living in Hamburg, in 1997, the report says.

Seven foiled UK terror plots

Zammar was detained in Morocco in December 2001 in an operation involving CIA agents, and was handed over to the Syrian authorities two weeks later. He was subsequently sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2007 for belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood.

He was reportedly freed from prison in 2014 in a prison swap organised with Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham.

The SDF, which has been a key western ally in the fight against Isil, has detained several high-profile foreign members of Isil as the jihadist group's grip on Syria has collapsed.

They are currently holding two alleged members of the notorious Isil torture cell known as 'the Beatles.' El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexandra Kotey were captured by the group in February. The two are accused of being involved in the execution and torture of hostages.

US officials believe there are hundreds of foreign fighters and thousands of Syrian Isil militants in SDF custody.

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