Middle East Intelligence Bulletin
Jointly published by the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon and the Middle East Forum
  Vol. 3   No. 9 Table of Contents
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September 2001 


Intelligence Briefs: Syria

September 11 Ringleader Visited Syria Repeatedly
Bin Laden Relatives Reportedly Left Syria prior to Attacks
Syrian Grand Mufti Publicly Endorses Suicide Attacks
Political Prisoner Dies in Tadmour

Mohamed Atta
September 11 Ringleader Visited Syria Repeatedly

According to the September 17 issue of the German weekly Die Zeit, the man whom US investigators believe was the ringleader of terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, Mohamed Atta, visited Syria several times between 1994 and 1999. Atta, who was on the first plane to hit the World Trade Center, was registered as a student at the Hamburg-Harburg Technical University from 1992 until March 2001. His visits to Syria during this time were ostensibly for research toward his diploma. According to a professor who supervised his work, Dittmar Machule, Atta visited Syria to investigate urban development in the northern city of Aleppo.

Bin Laden Relatives Reportedly Left Syria prior to Attacks

According to a September 25 report in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, several close relatives of Osama bin Laden who took refuge in Syria five years ago left the country just before the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. According to the report, many members of his family are believed to have moved to Syria with the permission of the Syrian authorities after bin Laden was expelled from Sudan in 1996.

Syrian Grand Mufti Publicly Endorses Suicide Attacks

Syria's state-appointed grand mufti, Ahmad Kaftaro, gave his explicit blessing to suicide attacks launched against Israel in a statement released on September 9. "The heroic suicide operations represent a natural and legitimate reaction that must be blessed in so far as we reject the Zionist crimes against our people of Palestine," said Kaftaro, who made international headlines when he hosted Pope John Paul II at the Umayyad mosque in Damascus in May. The statement, quoted by Agence France Presse, was apparently in reaction to two suicide attacks in northern Israel earlier in the day which left several people dead and dozens wounded.

Political Prisoner Dies in Tadmour

The London-based Syrian Human Rights Committee (SHRC) reported on August 15 that Syrian security forces delivered the body of Muhammad Mustafa Snoon to his family in the village of Kalaly in the north of Syria on July 22. Snoon was a university student studying agricultural science when he was detained in early 1981 and charged with being a member of the banned Muslim Brotherhood. Since then he had been detained in the notorious Tadmour prison and family members were not allowed to visit him. SHRC said that his brother, Ahmad Mustafa Snoon, remains imprisoned in Tadmour.


2001 Middle East Intelligence Bulletin. All rights reserved.
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