Terrorist suspects eyed Paris Metro as targets

27th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 27 (AFP) - Suspected Islamic militants being questioned for a second day by anti-terrorist investigators had been looking at the Paris metro system, an airport and the headquarters of France's domestic intelligence service as targets, officials said Tuesday.

PARIS, Sept 27 (AFP) - Suspected Islamic militants being questioned for a second day by anti-terrorist investigators had been looking at the Paris metro system, an airport and the headquarters of France's domestic intelligence service as targets, officials said Tuesday.

Nine people were detained in a series of dawn raids Monday in poor neighbourhoods of towns west of Paris. Officials said they were members of the Algerian Islamist organisation, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).

Suspicions over their intentions were based on telephone intercepts from Algeria, investigators said. However they said there was no evidence that an actual plan of attack was being formulated.

Monday's arrests came as interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy unveiled details of a new anti-terrorism law that is to be put to the French cabinet next month.

Speaking on national television, Sarkozy said that the terrorist threat in France was "at a very high level ... There are cells operating on our territory."

"New York, Madrid, London. Inevitably one thinks of Paris, Berlin, Rome. The designated targets are the democracies," Sarkozy said.

Sarkozy's draft law, which was drawn up after the July suicide bombings in London, authorises greatly increased video-surveillance in towns and cities as well as improved police access to Internet and mobile telephone records.

It will also oblige travel companies to provide the authorities with personal details of passengers, and increases the maximum sentence for terrorist association to 30 years.

"The first freedom is the freedom to take the metro or the bus without fearing for one's life," Sarkozy said.

Investigators have till Friday to question the nine detainees, after which they must be released or brought before an anti-terrorist judge.

Among those being held was Safe Bourada, 35, who was released from prison in 2003 after serving five years for helping organise a series of bomb attacks that killed nine people in France in 1995.

At his trial in 1997, Bourada was described as an important link with the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), the Algerian formation that was the main anti-government force during the country's long Islamic insurgency. The GSPC was born from a split in the GIA.

The investigation leading to Monday's arrests began when the newly-released Bourada was placed under surveillance, and there was a breakthrough two months ago when police made the chance arrest of a group of men holding up a Moroccan prostitute, officials said.

Investigators discovered these men had links with former members of the GIA, they said.

A week ago anti-terrorist police arrested six men in the northern Paris suburbs suspected of recruiting volunteers to fight against US forces in Iraq. They were all released without charge after the four days of questioning which is the maximum the law allows.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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