The brother of al-Qaeda chief Ayman Zawahiri has been arrested, it was revealed last night.
Mohammed Zawahiri, 59, was seized by Syrian troops as he prepared to meet up with rebels in Darya, outside Damascus.
But Western intelligence fears the arrest could lead to more bloodshed.
A source said: “Zawahiri junior has set himself up as something of a peace maker in the Middle East, although he holds the same ideals as al-Qaeda.
“He believes in the spread of Islam, Sharia law and has supported terrorist acts against the west, justifying them as jihad against oppressors of the Islamic faith.
“This development could well enhance the al-Qaeda leadership’s interest in promoting violence across Syria as Zawahiri junior is well-respected by the network.”
Ayman, 61, took over from Osama bin Laden after he was killed by US Navy SEALs.
He has sworn to support the rebels in their bid to overthrow Syrian president Bashar Assad.
And there are thought to be 1,000 al-Qaeda loyalists helping them in Syria under the banner Jabat al-Nusrah.