Terror plot suspect to stand trial in France

5th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 5, 2007 (AFP) - A French Muslim convert suspected of hatching plots to blow up a nuclear reactor and military installations in Australia is to go before a Paris criminal court from Wednesday.

PARIS, Feb 5, 2007 (AFP) - A French Muslim convert suspected of hatching plots to blow up a nuclear reactor and military installations in Australia is to go before a Paris criminal court from Wednesday.

Willie Brigitte, 38, originally from the French Caribbean territory of Guadeloupe, converted to Islam in 1998 when he travelled to Yemen to attend a Koranic school alleged by prosecutors to have links to Al-Qaeda.

Upon his return to France, prosecutors believe Brigitte came into contact with sympathisers of the Algerian armed Islamist group the GSPC.

During that period he is accused of running forest training camps in France for volunteer Islamist fighters preparing to leave for Afghanistan.

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Brigitte is thought to have tried to reach Afghanistan, but got no further than Pakistan where prosecutors said he underwent military training in camps run by radical Islamic group Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Back in France and after a "sleeping period", prosecutors allege Brigitte was summoned to Australia by Sajid Mir, the suspected chief for overseas operations of the Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Brigitte and Mir, who remains at large, are then alleged to have planned strikes on possible targets such as a US electronic intelligence outpost in Pine Gap, central Australia, the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in Sydney and military bases across the country.

One of Brigitte's contacts in Australia was allegedly Faheem Khalid Lodhi, a Pakistani-Australian architect sentenced last year to 20 years in jail for planning a terrorist act on Australian soil.

Australian police arrested Brigitte in early October 2003 after being alerted by French authorities that he might be involved in planning bomb attacks. He was then extradited to France.

France's top anti-terrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere signed a trial order last October for Brigitte in a document also indicting Mir.

The formal charge against Brigitte is for "associating with criminals in relation to a terrorist enterprise," a charge which carries a maximum 10-year prison term.

Brigitte's lawyer, Jean-Claude Durimel, said his client maintains his innocence.

"My client contests all allegations of terrorist activity. He had gone to Australia to change his life, he never participated in attack plots," he said.

"There is no material evidence against my client."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Terrorism, Australia

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