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Mohammed Haydar Zammar, a Syrian-born German national who has been accused of recruiting several of the alleged 9/11 hijackers to al-Qaeda, is arrested and detained by Kurdish fighters in Syria. (Agence France-Presse 4/19/2018; BBC 4/19/2018) Zammar is captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led militia backed by the United States, during its ongoing operations against the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). (Horner 4/20/2018) He is then held in a prison run by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units militia, which dominates the SDF. (BBC 4/19/2018)
Zammar Influenced Several 9/11 Hijackers - Before 9/11, Zammar was a well-known figure in the Muslim community in Germany. He was “an outspoken, flamboyant Islamist” who “relished any opportunity to extol the virtues of violent jihad,” according to the 9/11 Commission Report. He regularly visited Afghanistan in the 1990s and met Osama bin Laden there in late 1999. After 9/11, he reportedly took credit for influencing the members of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell, which included alleged 9/11 hijackers Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, and Ziad Jarrah. In 1998, he encouraged the members of the cell to participate in jihad and persuaded them to go to Afghanistan for military training. (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 164; Sly 11/30/2018) However, there is “no indication” that he was aware of the plot to attack America on September 11, 2001, according to the BBC.
Zammar Spent Years Imprisoned in Syria - Zammar was arrested in December 2001 while visiting Morocco and then deported to Syria (see October 27-November 2001 and December 2001). After being detained in Syria for several years, in 2007 a Syrian court sentenced him to 12 years in prison for membership in the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group (see February 11, 2007). (BBC 4/19/2018; Horner 4/20/2018; Sly 11/30/2018) He was released, however, in 2013 in a prisoner swap. He then joined ISIS, although he will later deny playing a prominent role in the group. He recently surrendered to the SDF. In interviews with the press later this year, he will deny having any involvement in, or foreknowledge of, the 9/11 plot (see November 2018). (Kareb et al. 11/23/2018; Sly 11/30/2018)
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