The regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad released the alleged mastermind of a July 2005 series of London bombings, a Syrian opposition site said on Sunday, adding that the move was meant as a warning to Western powers to stay out of the political crisis in country.
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According to the report, Syrian authorities released top al-Qaida operative and Aleppo native Abu Musab al-Suri, whose real name is Mustafa Sit-Mariam, who has been held in Syria since being allegedly transported there by the CIA six years ago, over his suspected involvement in a series of terrorist attacks in London.
A post on Syrian opposition website Sooryoon.net, cited by U.K. newspaper The Telegraph, reported that the “timing of his release raises a lot of questions and observers believe the release may indicate the regime is stopping security co-operation with the Americans and thus releasing all those Washington considers a threat to its interests.”
Al-Suri’s name surfaced following the 2005 attacks. Described by The Independent as chief of al-Qaida’s European operations, he was thought to have masterminded the July 2005 bombings, in which four suicide bombers killed 52 commuters on three London subway trains and a bus.
A redhead with green eyes, he is married to a Spanish woman and has dual citizenship, and adopted his alias in the 1990s after writing a book about the Islamic Brotherhood in Syria, of which he was a member, calling for action against the oppressive regime of Assad (the father).
Spanish authorities also suspected that al-Suri was behind the train bombings in Spain in March 2004.
Commenting on the report of his release, al-Suri’s wife Helena told The Telegraph that she had not “heard anything official or unofficial since my husband disappeared in 2004,” adding: “I hope that one day we will be together again.”
The report of al-Suri’s release came as Vice Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Sunday that Israel had not and is not interfering in the political crisis in Syria, adding that he did not think radical Islam would take over the country in case Assad was ousted.
Ya’alon’s comments came as Russia and China vetoed on Saturday a Western-Arab UN Security Council resolution backing an Arab League call for Assad to step aside.
The other 13 council members voted in favor of the resolution, which stated that the council "fully supports" the Arab League plan.