New arrests in crackdown on Islamic extremists

3rd October 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 3 (AFP) - French police detained four people in dawn raids south of Paris Monday in what was described as a follow-up operation after the break-up of a suspected Islamist underground cell a week ago.

PARIS, Oct 3 (AFP) - French police detained four people in dawn raids south of Paris Monday in what was described as a follow-up operation after the break-up of a suspected Islamist underground cell a week ago.

The main targets were two French converts to Islam, aged in their late 20s, who were picked up by members of the domestic intelligence service DST at their homes near the town of Montargis, 100km from the capital.

A couple who were at the house of one of the men were also detained for questioning. Police were seen removing computers from the premises.

Police said the two men have been under surveillance for two years because of their links with Safe Bourrada, the principal suspect detained in last Monday's round-up in the towns of Trappes and Evreux west of Paris.

Anti-terrorist investigators have four days in which to question the new detainees, after which they must present them before a magistrate or release them without charge.

Interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy said Monday's arrests were part of a continuing investigation.

"These are long term inquiries because a certain number of individuals have been under surveillance for months, even years, and at the moment the specialist services judge it necessary, arrests take place," Sarkozy told a radio station.

A total of nine people were detained in last Monday's raids, but five were later released and on Friday the remaining four -- including Bourrada -- were placed under formal investigation for "criminal association in relation with a terrorist enterprise."

The others were named as Jamel Badaoui, Achour Ouarab and Kaci Ouarab.

Bourrada, 35, was released from prison in 2003 after serving five years for helping organise a series of bomb attacks in France in 1995 for the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA). He had been under close surveillance ever since.

Investigators said last week that the detainees constituted an extremist cell that intended to carry out attacks in France, with the Paris metro system, Orly airport and the headquarters of the DST all mentioned as possible targets.

However this was not confirmed during their questioning, and Sarkozy conceded Monday there was no evidence they were "about to" carry out attacks. Instead he said they had "bad intentions".

Officials believe Bourrada had links with the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which emerged from a split in the GIA. The GIA was the main armed force in Algeria's long Islamist insurgency in the 1990s.

According to leaks from the investigation, Bourrada recruited followers from among petty criminals in the Muslim community. Police had a breakthrough in July when they detained four men in Paris who were attempting to blackmail a Moroccan prostitute.

Last month another man with links to Bourrada was picked up at Oran airport in Algeria and allegedly revealed that there were plans to carry out attacks. This prompted last week's arrests.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

 

 

Subject: French news

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