French probe 'Iraqi network' war recruitment

30th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 29 (AFP) - A third suspected Islamic militant arrested in a police sweep against an alleged recruiting ring was placed under investigation Saturday for suspected membership of a network that sent young people to fight in Iraq.

PARIS, Jan 29 (AFP) - A third suspected Islamic militant arrested in a police sweep against an alleged recruiting ring was placed under investigation Saturday for suspected membership of a network that sent young people to fight in Iraq.

The court decision came after two other suspected Islamic militants, Farid Benyettou, 23, and Thamer Bouchnak, 22, were likewise placed under investigation Friday, accused of organising an operation to send volunteers to fight against US-led forces in Iraq.

An examining magistrate Saturday placed the third man, 23-year-old Cherif Kouachi, under investigation for criminal association linked to a terrorist enterprise.

The three - who all possess French citizenship - were arrested in Paris last Monday and Tuesday together with eight others since discharged from custody.

Benyettou is alleged by investigators to be the mastermind. Kouachi and Bouchnak, believed to be his lieutenants, were planning to take a plane to Syria last Tuesday and to continue from there to Iraq when they were arrested.

Court sources said at least seven people out of about a dozen recruited by the network had fought or been killed in Iraq.

The sources said the network had allegedly considered violent attacks on French targets, but had never got to the planning stage.

The arrests were part of an anti-terrorist investigation launched in France last September after evidence emerged of a so-called "Iraqi network" recruiting Islamic militants in to fight US forces there.

Intelligence agents believe there are between 15 and 30 French nationals with the insurgents in Iraq, and that four have been killed in clashes with the US military.

The French foreign intelligence service DGSE has identified a Frenchman, named only as Fawzi D., as the head of a group of some 20 Islamic militants in Iraq, officials said.

"We are determined to stop young people going to make Jihad (Holy War) in Iraq because if they come back they will have greatly enhanced prestige, and be in a position to recruit more people to the cause - or even mount terrorist operations," said one official who wished to remain anonymous.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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