DAMASCUS, Syria, (AP) – A Syrian court on Sunday sentenced a man believed to have known the Sept. 11 hijackers to 12 years in prison for membership in the banned Muslim Brotherhood organization, a human rights group said.
The Higher State Security Court sentenced Mohammed Haydar Zammar to life in prison but then immediately commuted the sentence to 12 years, the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria said in a statement. The group did not give the reason for commuting the sentence.
Zammar holds dual German and Syrian citizenship. He lived in Hamburg, Germany at the same time as lead Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and is alleged to have introduced him to al-Qaida leaders in Afghanistan.
Zammar was questioned by German authorities following the attacks but was freed for lack of evidence. He then traveled in October 2001 to Morocco and was captured there in December of that year. Germany has said U.S. officials then delivered Zammar to Syria.
Syrian officials almost never comment on court cases or arrests of dissidents and human rights groups usually bring them to public attention.
Calls to a German embassy official in Damascus for comment were not answered.
Membership in the Muslim Brotherhood is punishable by execution in Syria. Authorities waged a fierce crackdown on the Brotherhood in the early 1980s that resulted in the deaths of thousands of people.