A senior Tunisian militant and Islamic State recruiter has been reportedly arrested in Libya, according to local media reports.
Zintani forces loyal to the internationally-recognized Libyan National Army arrested Moez Ben Abdulgader Ben Ahmed Fezzani 47, known by his nom de guerre Abu Nassim, last week as he was trying to flee Sirte, Libya for Tunisia.
A commander of ISIS militants in Libya since 2014, Fezzani had been sought by Tunisian authorities in connection with the March 2015 Bardo Museum attack in Tunis.
Twenty-two people including 17 foreigners were killed in the attack later claimed by the Islamic State.
Fezzani, along with 20 Islamic State operatives, was arrested by a police patrol while travelling between the towns of Rigdaleen and Al-Jmail.
News of his purported arrest comes just days after Libyan authorities warned their Italian counterparts about the possibility of an Islamic State cell in Milan with connections to the wanted militant.
Following the capture of ISIS’ headquarters in Sirte last week, officials discovered a cache of documents linking the Italian cell to Fezzani.
Fezzani, who arrived in Italy in the late 80’s, disappeared in 1997 after authorities suspected him of involvement in jihadi activities, later resurfacing in Pakistan before joining Osama Bin Laden’s war in Afghanistan.
Arrested by the U.S. in 2001, Fezzani was held at Bagram’s detention facility before the Obama administration approved his transfer to Italy in 2009.
Fezzani stood trial in Italy for his earlier terror offenses, cooperating in terror activities in Bosnia in 1995, but was acquitted.
Upon appeal, he was sentenced to six years in jail, but by this time had already fled; first to Tunisia where he joined Al Qaeda’s Ansar Al Sharia and then to Syria joining the terror group’s Al Nusra affiliate.
In 2014, he transferred allegiances to ISIS’ Caliph Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, before moving to Libya where he was reportedly appointed a leader of Katibat al-Battar, described as ISIS’ special operations unit in the volatile country.
“If the information on Fezzani proves to be true, it is very disturbing. Just like the head of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, this was a man we had in our detention facility and let go,” terrorism analyst Dr. Sebastian Gorka told The Investigative Project on Terror in March about Fezzani’s ISIS appointment.
There has been no confirmation of his arrest from Tunisian authorities, but Fezzani’s capture comes just days after the Obama administration announced its biggest release of Guantanamo Bay detainees as the President attempts to fulfil his pledge to close the detention camp.