French armoured car theft linked to terrorist network

22nd November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 20 (AFP) - French authorities opened Saturday a judicial investigation against a former employee of an armoured cash delivery company for faking a robbery to finance a Moroccan terrorist group.

PARIS, Nov 20 (AFP) - French authorities opened Saturday a judicial investigation against a former employee of an armoured cash delivery company for faking a robbery to finance a Moroccan terrorist group.

Hassan Baouchi, 23, was placed under judicial investigation for "criminal association relating to a terrorist enterprise" by Judge Jean-Francois Ricard, one of France's top anti-terror magistrates.

Baouchi, who was arrested Thursday, had been employed by the Brink's armoured car company and claimed to have been taken hostage on March 1 and that robbers stole EUR 1 million (USD 1.3 million) from his vehicle.

While Baouchi's story did not convince police he was released following two days of questioning.

French authorities believe that money went to fund the activities of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM), the organisation blamed for the Casablanca bombings in May 2003 that claimed 45 lives.

In April police arrested Hassan's brother Moustapha and five others they claimed formed an underground GICM cell, with Moustapha in charge.

French investigators have said Moustapha Baouchi spent two periods in armed camps in Afghanistan, where he learned to handle weapons and explosives.

French authorities said a second man suspected of involvement in the thefts was arrested Monday and similarly placed under judicial investigation, while a third suspect was detained one month ago in Algeria.

A suspect from the French Antilles had been arrested on Monday and also placed under judicial investigation for terrorist conspiracy.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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