Skip to main content /US /US

Moroccans hold al Qaeda leader 'The Bear'

Moroccans hold al Qaeda leader 'The Bear'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A senior al Qaeda leader known as "The Bear" because of his large size is in custody in Morocco, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

Abu Zubair al-Haili, a Saudi national, is considered one of the top 25 al Qaeda leaders. He is said to have played a pivotal role in recruiting al Qaeda members and bringing them to Afghan terror training camps before September 11.

One official said al-Haili knows "quite a bit," including where many of the al Qaeda cells are around the world and that he could "be useful in preventing future attacks."

Attack on America
 CNN NewsPass Video 
Agencies reportedly got hijack tips in 1998
Intelligence intercept led to Buffalo suspects
Report cites warnings before 9/11
Timeline: Who Knew What and When?
Interactive: Terror Investigation
Terror Warnings System
Most wanted terrorists
What looks suspicious?
In-Depth: America Remembers
In-Depth: Terror on Tape
In-Depth: How prepared is your city?
On the Scene: Barbara Starr: Al Qaeda hunt expands?
On the Scene: Peter Bergen: Getting al Qaeda to talk

The official said al-Haili has "a very close relationship to Abu Zubaydah," the man considered to have been Osama bin Laden's operations chief and now in custody and being interrogated at an undisclosed location.

The official said al-Haili also is "well-plugged in" and has "a wealth of information." Officials said the United States has access to information provided by al-Haili, but one official said the access is indirect.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Haydar Zammar -- a German citizen of Syrian origin who may have recruited key September 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta -- is in Syrian custody, sources confirmed Tuesday.

The United States is receiving information from the Syrians about what Zammar is telling them, sources said. Zammar also holds Syrian citizenship.

Zubaydah, since his capture by authorities in Pakistan in late March, has provided U.S. officials with information that has led to threat alerts and the arrest of terrorist suspects -- most recently suspected "dirty bomb" plotter Jose Padilla. (More on Zubaydah tips)

-- CNN National Security Correspondent David Ensor contributed to this report.




Back to the top