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 Britain.
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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