Man held over Al-Qaeda links released

12th October 2009, Comments 0 comments

His older brother, a 32-year-old engineer at the CERN nuclear research lab, was still detained, said an official.

Paris -- The younger of two brothers arrested in France for suspected connections to the Al-Qaeda network was released on Saturday without charge, a judicial official said.

The detention of the elder brother, a 32-year-old engineer at the CERN nuclear research lab, was extended, the source said.

He may be handed over to anti-terrorism authorities in Paris.

The younger brother, aged 25, was released late Saturday after being held for more than 48 hours. No charges were brought against him, the source said.

The elder brother, who worked at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research on the Franco-Swiss border outside Geneva, was planning to commit at least one attack, according to sources close to the case.

CERN said the arrested man was working with the Large Hadron Collider experiment, which aims to investigate how the Universe formed after the Big Bang.

Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said Friday that investigators were trying to establish which targets in "France or elsewhere" the suspect was hoping to strike.

The pair was arrested on Thursday in Vienne, a town on the Rhone River some 100 kilometres (65 miles) southwest of the Alpine lab, by officers from France's security service acting on a warrant from an anti-terrorist magistrate.

According to officials, the engineer made contact over the internet with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a North African branch of Osama bin Laden's Islamist militant movement.

He expressed a desire to commit attacks, but had "not gotten to the stage of carrying out material acts of preparation", one said.

The two brothers, both French nationals, were transferred early Friday to the Hauts-de-Seine area, just outside Paris.

According to a report on the newspaper Le Figaro's website, the elder brother is a Frenchman of Algerian origin who was the subject of a one and a half year police investigation.

Judicial sources told AFP that investigators discovered the pair while monitoring the internet in a separate inquiry into the recruitment of jihadist guerrillas.

CERN confirmed on Friday that a physicist working at the site was arrested over alleged terrorist links but said "his work did not bring him into contact with anything that could be used for terrorism".

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was founded in 2007 when an Algerian militant group, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, promised loyalty to Bin Laden and became his organisation's local branch.

Intelligence officials consider it one of the most serious threats to France, which has a large North African population.

AFP / Expatica

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