Man who hired Huntsville terrorism suspect reacts to arrest

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - WHNT News 19 has learned that Aziz Sayyed, the 22-year-old charged with supporting an act of terrorism, worked at the IHOP on Highway 72.

Former IHOP General Manager, Hani Zatier, told WHNT Sayyed was a hard worker.

The terrorism suspect started at the restaurant as a dishwasher in 2014.

"Then a couple months later his language was getting really good. So, he told me 'Look I really want to be a server to make the money'," said Zatier.

Zatier, who now lives in Colorado,  hired Sayyed, who went by Zach at work.

The former general manager said the 22-year-old U.S. citizen moved back from the Middle East to go to school in Huntsville.

"He liked to work. He always told me I want to make the money, I want to pay for school. So, he wanted to try really hard in school. He wanted to be an engineer and he always wanted to work. You know, he's a good guy," explained Zatier.

WHNT has confirmed the terrorism suspect attended the Huntsville campus of Calhoun Community College.

"I would not expect from him to be this kind of person because he never talked about this kind of stuff to me. I'll always look at him like a little brother because giving him the job and teaching him how America is not easy, and that you have to work and have to support yourself," said Zatier.

The owner of the franchise, Tayseer Zuaiter, released a statement confirming that the franchise did not know about Sayyed's charges and is fully cooperating with authorities.

According to the statement:

"We were very surprised to learn that Mr. Sayyed was arrested. He no longer works for us and we are prepared to cooperate fully with authorities. Since we know nothing more than what is being reported in the news and because an investigation is underway, questions are best answered by authorities."