France expels cleric close to would-be bomber

25th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 23 (AFP) - France on Saturday expelled a Muslim part-time clergyman sentenced to four years in prison for his role in a network linked to the suspected would-be bomber of a high-speed train in 1995, the interior ministry said.

PARIS, July 23 (AFP) - France on Saturday expelled a Muslim part-time clergyman sentenced to four years in prison for his role in a network linked to the suspected would-be bomber of a high-speed train in 1995, the interior ministry said.

Abdelhamid Aissaoui, a 41-year-old Algerian national, was barred from French territory in January 1999 but he was only deported to Algiers this weekend after the French agency for the protection of refugees and stateless people formally rejected an asylum request.

He was part of a group of a dozen radical imams under observation by the French intelligence agency, the ministry said.

Aissaoui was detained for questioning at the main railway station of the eastern city of Lyon Monday.

His name was also on an intelligence list of radical Muslim clerics preaching mostly in the Paris, Lyon and Marseille areas.

French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy promised Friday to step up surveillance of radical Islamic clerics following the wave of bomb attacks in London.

"Everyone in France has the right to practise his religion ... but when you look at the age of these young suicide bombers in London you can see the influence of radical preachers on these weak spirits. I do not intend to tolerate it," he said.

"We have decided that we must increase our means for video surveillance, speed up the introduction of the latest in telephone technology and information-processing and launch a large-scale project for the early detection of radicalising elements."

After the July 7 bombings in London Sarkozy said France would expel imams who preach violence.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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