Massoud murder plot suspects on trial in Paris

28th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 29 (AFP) - Four suspected Islamist radicals went on trial in a Paris court Tuesday for allegedly helping the men who killed Afghan resistance hero Ahmad Shah Masoud two days before the September 11, 2001 attacks.

PARIS, March 29 (AFP) - Four suspected Islamist radicals went on trial in a Paris court Tuesday for allegedly helping the men who killed Afghan resistance hero Ahmad Shah Masoud two days before the September 11, 2001 attacks.

French prosecutors believe the four men helped the two Tunisians travelling with fake Belgian passports. Posing as journalists, they detonated a bomb hidden in a camera on September 9, 2001, killing Masoud.

The death of the Northern Alliance leader, who fought against the Taliban that then ruled Afghanistan, took place just two days before the Al-Qaeda attacks on US targets that killed some 3,000 people.

The four primary suspects face a maximum of 10 years in prison for criminal association in relation with a terrorist enterprise, as do three co-defendants suspected of organising training camps for Islamic holy war recruits in France.

An eighth man linked to the group, who stands accused of living illegally in France and faces a lesser punishment, will be tried separately after falling ill.

French anti-terrorism judges Jean-Louis Bruguiere and Jean-Francois Ricard, who ordered the eight men to stand trial, were not investigating Masoud's murder, but the support network that helped his assassins.

Investigators traced the passports found on the two Tunisians that killed the Northern Alliance chief back to a network run from Belgium by Tarek Maaroufi, who was sentenced to six years in prison in Brussels in 2003.

The four primary suspects in the Paris case are Youssef el-Aouni, 31, and Adel Tebourski, 41, both French nationals; Abderahmane Ameroud, a 27-year-old Algerian; and Mehrez Azouz, 37, who has dual French and Algerian nationality.

According to investigators, Tebourski admitted to belonging to an Islamist group led by one of Masoud's two Tunisian assassins, Dahmane Abd al-Sattar, which was made up of about 10 people.

Tebourski also reportedly said he exchanged up to FF 30,000 (EUR 4,500, USD 5,900) into US currency for Dahmane before he left for Afghanistan in May 2000.

Three other suspects - Khellaf Hammam, 37; Ibrahim Keita, 38; and Azdine Sayeh, 32 - stand accused of organizing paramilitary boot camps allegedly aimed at selecting recruits to go to Afghanistan.

The training was alleged to have taken place in the Fontainebleau forest south of Paris, the coastal Normandy region and in the French Alps.

The trial is expected to last until April 20. The verdict is scheduled to be delivered on May 17.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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