The Kurds have come through again.
Eighteen years after thousands of Americans died in the attacks of 9/11, one of the remaining men suspected of recruiting the terrorist hijackers has been captured by Kurdish militia forces allied with the United States in Syria.
And showed just how important American support for the Kurds really is.
According to Agence France-Presse, Mohammed Haydar Zammar, a Syrian born German national linked to 9/11 mastermind Mohamed Atta was arrested Wednesday by the Kurdish People’s Defense Forces, a militia group fighting Islamic State group terrorists in Syria.
“Mohammed Haydar Zammar has been arrested by Kurdish security forces in northern Syria and is now being interrogated,” a militia official told AFP.
It’s a good bet that interrogation isn’t a very gentle one.
In the murky world of Middle East combat, the Kurds have been one of the few consistent elements in the American fight against the Islamic State group.
An ethnic group originating in an area now mainly divided among Iraq, Syria and Turkey, the Kurds have been trying to establish a permanent homeland for themselves against the military forces of all three countries since the end of the First World War.
One of the Kurds’ biggest enemies is NATO member Turkey, officially an American ally but one that has drifted further and further from friendship with the growing power of Turkish President Recep Erdogan and his Islamist Justice and Development Party.
Erdogan has made no secret of Turkey’s dislike for U.S. military support for the Kurds. The Washington Post last month described the U.S.-Turkish relations as in “tatters” because of that support.
But that hasn’t stopped the Kurdish militias from playing a major role in the fight against the Islamic State group.
All-female Kurdish militias have been particularly important, since Islamic State group terrorists are terrified themselves of being killed by a woman in battle. (Under the group’s bizarre interpretation of Islam, it will mean they’re denied entrance to heaven, as the U.K. Independent reported in 2016.)
So, the capture of a suspected 9/11 plotter like Mohammed Zammar by a Kurdish militia this week could be very good news for the fight against terror.
A member of the notorious “Hamburg cell” of Islamic terrorists that planned the attacks on New York and Washington, Zammar, now in his 50s, has been on the loose since getting out of a Syrian prison after civil war broke out in the country, according to AFP. The report wasn’t clear whether Zammar had been released or escaped.
Now that he’s in the likely none-too-gentle hands of a Kurdish militia, allied to the United States, it’s a good chance he’ll finally face justice for the murderous attack of September 2001.
It’s also possible he’ll have information about other Islamist plots – whether in the Middle East or closer to the American homeland.
But it does show one thing for sure: just how important the Kurdish fighters are to the American war on terror now.
And they keep coming through.
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