Reports emerge of a suspect
Syrian-born fugitive in Spanish terror probe also is sought by U.S.

By John Crewdson, Tribune senior correspondent. Drew Crosby contributed to
this report from Madrid
Published July 12, 2005

FRANKFURT, Germany -- A Syrian-born terror suspect, reportedly sought in
connection with the London bombings, is a fugitive in a Spanish case linked
to Sept. 11 and was already wanted under a $5 million bounty offered by the
United States.

Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, 47, was identified as a suspect by security sources
quoted in London and Madrid newspapers, but British authorities have not
named anyone as a suspect officially.

The German federal police are familiar with Nasar because he received
payments of several thousand dollars from a Hamburg businessman with close
ties to the Sept. 11 hijackers.

Counterterror experts from the German police attended a meeting Saturday in
London where representatives from more than 20 European nations forged a
collaboration in the hunt for the London bombers.

But a senior German intelligence official in Berlin who is being briefed by
British counterparts said Monday that "we still know too little on the
background of the London attacks" to identify a principal suspect.

Gustavo de Aristegui, an opposition leader in the Spanish parliament, said
Monday that Spanish government officials maintain they began warning the
British about four months ago that Nasar represented a potential threat to

Nasar, whose fair skin, red hair and green eyes make it easy for him to
blend into European populations, is one of a dwindling number of former
senior Al Qaeda operatives still at large. While in London in the mid-1990s,
he edited a magazine, Al Ansar, that was the organ of the violent,
Algerian-based Armed Islamic Group.

In charging Nasar and more than 30 others last year with a supporting role
in the Sept. 11 hijackings, a Spanish magistrate asserted that in 1998 Nasar
left London for Afghanistan to train young Muslims from France, Italy and
Spain who were "reinstated in their respective countries as `sleepers,'
waiting for orders from the organization."

The Madrid newspaper El Pais said his trail was lost in Afghanistan in 2001.

During Nasar's time in London, he received $3,000 from Hamburg businessman
Mamoun Darkazanli, German police documents show. The Spanish magistrate,
Baltasar Garzon, described Darkazanli as Osama bin Laden's "chief financier"
in Europe.

Darkazanli is in a Hamburg jail fighting an extradition order to Spain. He
has admitted knowing Mohamed Atta, who piloted the first plane to strike the
World Trade Center.

De Aristegui, who is on the Spanish parliament's intelligence committee,
said Monday that there may be a similar pattern in the London bombings and
the attack on Madrid trains in March 2004: "The foreign cell leader comes
from abroad, and uses members of his organization who are local, or people
that are locally recruited," to carry out an attack.

One of those charged in the Spanish Sept. 11 trial, Ghasoub al-Abrash
Ghayoun, testified that Nasar was a proponent of Islamic holy war. After
that testimony, the U.S. posted a $5 million reward for information leading
to the arrest of Nasar, who holds a Spanish passport because of his marriage
to a Spanish woman.

Among the Islamic radicals in London with whom Nasar reportedly has been
associated is Saad Rashed Mohammed al-Faqih, a Saudi dissident whose name
appears in public records as having established the Web site where a claim
of responsibility for the London bombings appeared briefly on Thursday.




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