French court jails seven for Iraq jihad network

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The seven men are convicted of running a network that recruited Muslims in Paris to fight in the Iraqi insurgency.

14 May 2008   

PARIS - A French court on Wednesday handed down jail sentences to seven men convicted of running a network that recruited poor young Muslims in Paris to fight in the Iraqi insurgency.

Tracked down and arrested after a young Frenchman was found dead in the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004, five French nationals, one Algerian and one Moroccan were handed jail terms of between 18 months and seven years.

Aged between 24 and 40, all were convicted of travelling to Iraq to take part in combat or of recruiting young men in Paris' heavily-immigrant northeast, including at a local mosque, to send as fighters.

Ringleaders Farid Benyettou and Boubakeur El Hakim - whose brother was killed in Fallujah and who himself fought in Iraq - received sentences of six and seven years respectively.

Moroccan Said Abdellah was handed seven years for his connections with a string of recruitment networks, including the Paris operation.

And Algerian Nacer Eddine Mettai - who is already serving out a separate six-year jail sentence - was given four years for supplying would-be fighters with fake identity documents.

All four have been in custody since the start of the investigation.

Mohammed El Ayouni, a Frenchman of Tunisian descent who lost an eye and a forearm in Fallujah in November 2004, received an 18-month sentence, as did Thamer Bouchnak and Cherif Kouachi, arrested just before they left for Syria.

The three have already served out their sentences in pre-trial detention.

At least a dozen youths, either foreign or of North African descent, many of them friends since childhood, are known to have travelled to fight US-led forces in Iraq, from 2004 onwards.

Three died in a suicide bombing, while several others were injured or arrested in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

[AFP / Expatica]

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