Jihadism flourishes in cynical regime
How one of Osama bin Laden's personal envoys, Mohammed Bahaiah, ended up in an Assad regime dungeon is a long story with several details missing. How he came to be free to run al-Qa'ida's errands again is simpler: he was released in 2011 on the orders of the Syrian president.
From the start of the uprising against him, President Bashar al-Assad claimed he was facing a terrorist insurrection. It might seem odd, then, that at the same time he would free an important al-Qa'ida operative.
Bahaiah was one of a string of militants freed during an amnesty offered as a concession to the opposition, according to jihad-monitoring analysts. The opposition always cried foul, and cases like his perhaps showed what really happened - Islamist militants were released, while secular activists continued to be rounded up.