- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 27, 2002

PARIS French police yesterday detained seven persons suspected to be Islamic militants with likely ties to the so-called shoe bomber. It was the third anti-terrorism sweep in France in four days.
Police have arrested 18 persons since Saturday, including an Islamic militant who escaped from a Dutch jail.
Anti-terrorism judges Jean-Louis Bruguiere and Jean-Francois Ricard put out orders for the pre-dawn arrests yesterday of six Algerians and Pakistanis, picked up in the Paris suburbs of Montreuil and Garges-les-Gonesse, police said. Among those detained was an imam at a mosque north of Paris.
A seventh suspect, who used to run a Paris prayer hall, was picked up on Reunion island, a French territory in the Indian Ocean.
All seven are suspected of having ties to Richard C. Reid, the Briton who pleaded guilty to trying to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight last year using explosives hidden in his sneakers.
Under French law, terrorism suspects can be held for questioning for four days before being placed under investigation or freed.
Reid, 29, a convert to Islam, has admitted to being a follower of Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the September 11 terror attacks in the United States. Reid pleaded guilty to federal terrorism charges in Boston in October.
Two French nationals and a Pakistani already have been placed under investigation a step short of being charged on charges they provided Reid with logistical support during his stay in France.
The arrest Monday of Slimane Khalfaoui was billed by authorities as an advance in the fight against terrorism.
Counterintelligence agents surrounded his sister's home in the northern suburb of Montfermeil and nabbed Khalfaoui, wanted since 1996 and described by Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy as "operational."
Khalfaoui was among six persons detained Monday in connection with an investigation opened in 1995 into networks that for years ferried militants into training camps in Afghanistan, some once run by bin Laden.
Investigators link Khalfaoui, who is French of Algerian origin, to a plot to attack the Strasbourg Cathedral and Christmas market during millennium celebrations. Four Algerians have been on trial in Germany in the case.
In addition, according to French newspapers, Khalfaoui is believed to have had contacts with Ahmed Ressam, the Algerian convicted in the United States for a plot to bomb the Los Angeles airport, also during millennium festivities.
One suspect stood out among five persons detained in weekend sweeps: Redouane Daoud, a 25-year-old Algerian who escaped from the Netherlands' Breda prison in June, two months after his arrest with four others. The Netherlands said it would seek Daoud's extradition.
All five are suspected of having links to the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, the Algerian insurgency movement believed to be linked to bin Laden's al Qaeda network. The movement is on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations.
The five, all Algerian, are suspected of planning to set up a cell to provide logistical support for networks in North Africa, police said. False identification papers and about 100 telephone cards were found at their homes.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide