Imam held in Paris 'prayer room' swoop

16th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 16 (AFP) - A Muslim imam and 11 other people remained in custody Wednesday, the day after French police arrested them in the Paris region on suspicion of "illegal activities" that may have to do with terrorist operations, a judicial source said.

PARIS, June 16 (AFP) - A Muslim imam and 11 other people remained in custody Wednesday, the day after French police arrested them in the Paris region on suspicion of "illegal activities" that may have to do with terrorist operations, a judicial source said.

The arrests came after authorities discovered information involving an Islamic prayer room in the western suburb of Levallois-Perret, police said.

Those in detention included the prayer room's imam, Said Lounas, and the vice-president of the Islamic association Iqra that ran the room, Toufik Tahri, as well as a former imam, Adel Benguirat, the judicial source said.

A 13th man who was close to some of those arrested turned himself in to police but was likely to be released after checks showed he had nothing to do with the alleged activities.

Investigations were ongoing to determine what illicit activities, if any, the detained suspects were involved in.

"Right now, it's difficult to prove that those arrested had links to any terrorist financing," a judicial source said.

The swoop early Tuesday turned up two firearms and printed material that was being translated.

Lounas, who was residing in France illegally, was found to be in possession of fake identification papers.

Police said the raids had nothing to do with the June 8 arrest in Italy of Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, known as "Mohammed the Egyptian", suspected of masterminding the March 11 train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people.

Italian media said Sayed Ahmed may have been plotting an attack on the Paris metro, but French authorities discounted those reports, saying their own investigations revealed no clear link.

French police said the arrests resulted from surveillance of the prayer room which they believed had been taken over by radical fundamentalists.

© AFP

Subject: French news

 

 

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