Sydney press links Brigitte to bin Laden

18th November 2003, Comments 0 comments

SYDNEY, Nov 18 (AFP) - A French terrorist suspect deported from Australia last month was linked to top al-Qaeda operatives, it was reported here Tuesday as the man's lawyer insisted his client was used as a political scapegoat.

SYDNEY, Nov 18 (AFP) - A French terrorist suspect deported from Australia last month was linked to top al-Qaeda operatives, it was reported here Tuesday as the man's lawyer insisted his client was used as a political scapegoat.

The Sydney Morning Herald quoted recently retired French terrorism expert Pierre Conesa saying the suspect, Willie Brigitte, had one associate who knew Osama bin Laden and the architect of the September 11 attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

Brigitte, 35, was deported from Australia on October 17 after spending five months in Sydney and is now being held in a prison outside Paris.

Australian authorities have played down reports he planned to blow up a nuclear reactor near Sydney but remain convinced he was planning some sort of attack.

"He could be very important, or perhaps he is the second-hand logistics guy who was just offering the home for a bigger player," Conesa told the newspaper.

He said Brigitte's name featured on a list of people contacted by two men accused of plotting a synagogue bombing that killed 21 people in April last year in Tunisia - Christian Ganczarski and Karim Mehdi.

The French had described Ganczarski as "a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda, in contact with bin Laden himself".

Brigitte's French lawyer Philippe Valent said his client did nothing sinister in Australia and posed no threat to the country.

"He was living his life, that's all," Valent told public radio, admitting "he was maybe too near" suspicious people.

Brigitte is being held in France under strict counter-terrorism measures not available to Australian authorities and Valent said Canberra was using his client to push for greater powers.

"Australia needs something in the war against terrorism and maybe the government in Australia and the police are disarmed," he said. "The story of Mr Brigitte will help the government to try to pass a new law."


© AFP

Subject: French news


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