France to try 27 over terrorist attack plots

16th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 15 (AFP) - Twenty-seven suspected Islamic militants are to face trial early next year charged with plotting a series of attacks in France, at the end of a major anti-terrorism investigation, officials said on Thursday.

PARIS, Dec 15 (AFP) - Twenty-seven suspected Islamic militants are to face trial early next year charged with plotting a series of attacks in France, at the end of a major anti-terrorism investigation, officials said on Thursday.

A total of 29 people, arrested in waves between 2002 and 2004, were under investigation in the case, a dozen of whom remain in custody and two of whom were acquitted.

The suspects include former members of the Algerian militant Armed Islamic Group and followers of the extremist al-Qaeda network, as well as small-time criminals recruited in the French suburbs, according to investigators.

One of the suspects has been linked by investigators to the right-hand man of al-Qaeda's suspected leader in Europe, the Algerian Amar Makhlulif also known as Abu Doha, who was arrested in London in March 2001.

According to a source familiar with the case, the suspects had been preparing to carry out a campaign of attacks in France in 2001 and 2002 -- although it is not clear what stage their planning had reached.

The three-year anti-terrorism investigation, led by French judge Jean-Louis Brugière, was one of the largest of the past decade.

Launched in November 2002, it initially focussed on individuals suspected of travelling to Georgia for military training in order to join separatist rebels in the Russian republic of Chechnya.

Investigators have since established that none of the suspects actually went to Chechnya, although several did allegedly undergo chemical and conventional weapons training in Georgia's remote Pankisi Gorge.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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