'Shoe bomber' aides jailed in Paris

16th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 16 (AFP) - A Pakistani and two Frenchmen were Thursday given three-to-five-year prison sentences by a Paris court which found them guilty of aiding convicted "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, who tried to blow up a Paris-Miami flight three months after the attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States.

PARIS, June 16 (AFP) - A Pakistani and two Frenchmen were Thursday given three-to-five-year prison sentences by a Paris court which found them guilty of aiding convicted "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, who tried to blow up a Paris-Miami flight three months after the attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States.  

The three were convicted of associating with criminals in relation to a terrorist enterprise, three years after being arrested for their ties to Reid, who tried to detonate explosives hidden in his shoes aboard a Miami-bound American Airlines flight on December 22, 2001.  

Reid, a British national and self-proclaimed disciple of the Islamic extremist al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, was sentenced to life in prison by a US court in January 2003.  

French investigators said the Pakistani and two Frenchmen belonged to a group that helped Reid, but police say they also uncovered a Pakistani network that recruited fighters to carry out jihad, or holy war, abroad.  

Ghulam Rama, a 64-year-old Pakistani and president of a charity association called Chemin Droit (Right Path), received a five-year sentence for helping orient Reid on French soil and recruiting jihadists, although prosecutors stopped short of calling him an accomplice in the plot.  

The two Frenchmen, Hassan el Cheguer and Hakim Mokhfi, both aged 31, were groomed by Rama to fight abroad, the court found.  

The two were sentenced to four-year terms, with one year suspended - meaning they were released Thursday because of time already served in custody.  

Rama, who moved to France in 1980, frequently travelled abroad in 2001, making trips to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Britain.  

Prosecutors said the trips were linked to Rama's involvement in the recruitment of terror operatives, but the Pakistani man says he was trying to raise funds to build a Muslim place of worship in Saint-Denis, outside Paris.  

During the month-long trial, Rama denied any involvement in recruiting fighters for terror training abroad.  

A fourth man, Kamel Lakhram, was found guilty of violating residency requirements after terrorism-related charges against him were dropped, and he was released after being sentenced to three months in prison, which also covered his detention period.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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