Friday, February 24, 2006

The suspected leader of a gang that tortured and killed a young Jewish man in Paris has been arrested in the Ivory Coast

Philippe Naughton:

The French Government is confident of the speedy extradition of Youssef Fofana from the Ivory Coast

The murder of Ilan Halimi, 23, has infuriated France's Jewish leaders, who complained that police and authorities deliberately played down his kidnappers' anti-Semitic motives for fear of alienating French Muslims.

M Halimi, a mobile phone salesman, was kidnapped in January after being lured into a honeytrap and was then held for three weeks on an immigrant estate south of Paris while the gang demanded ransom payments from his parents.

He was discovered ten days ago near a suburban train station, lying naked, handcuffed, gagged and covered in burns and torture marks but died on the way to hospital.

President Chirac and Dominique de Villepin, his Prime Minister, are to attend a memorial service for the murdered man at the main Paris synagogue. Both men have promised that M Halimi's killers will be tracked down and punished.

The gang's suspected leader, Youssouf Fofana, a Frenchman of Ivorian origin, fled to Ivory Coast shortly after the killing, where he was tracked down and arrested.

M de Villepin said today that M Fofana could be extradited "within hours", although prosecutors in Paris and Abidjan said that it might take a week to complete the extradition process.

So far 13 members or suspected associates of the gang, which called itself "the Barbarians", have been arrested, including the concierge of the building where Halimi was held.

Police initially denied any racial aspect to the Halimi murder, even though the same gang was thought to have tried to kidnap six other Paris residents, four of them Jewish.

On Monday, however, investigators added racial hatred to the kidnapping and murder charges faced by the suspects.

The kidnappers are alleged to have referred to M Halimi’s Jewish background in their telephone and e-mail demands to the family for ransom, and one of the young torturers was reported by accomplices to have stubbed out a cigarette on M Halimi’s forehead while voicing his hatred for Jews.

One intended victim, a 50-year-old Jewish man identified as Michael, told how he had been lured to an estate and knocked out with a blow to the head from a pistol butt. He had been saved after residents called police, but spent a week in hospital.

According to unconfirmed reports in the Jewish community of Paris, at least one family has recently paid a ransom for the release of a kidnapped child.

Ruth Halimi said that her son might still be alive had the police not evaded the nature of his kidnapping as they were negotiating over ransom.

"We told the police that there had been at least three other attempted abductions of young Jews, but they persisted in considering the motives purely criminal because they are afraid of reviving a clash with the Muslims," she said.

French denial

'Gang leader' held in Africa after murder of kidnapped Jew

Extradition for 'kidnap gang boss'

2 Comments:

At 5:58 AM, Anonymous Stalker said...

In French : http://stalker.hautetfort.com/archive/2006/02/24/conte-de-la-barbarie-ordinaire-par-sarah-vajda.html

 
At 11:44 PM, Blogger Fern Sidman said...

MURDER OF FRENCH JEW NOT AN ISOLATED INCIDENT

BY: FERN SIDMAN

The gang that kidnapped, tortured and brutally murdered Ilan Halimi, 23, had threatened several prominent businessmen, lawyers and a well-known humanitarian activist, a French newspaper reported Saturday. The daily Liberation reported that the group behind the murder, which authorities have linked to anti-Semitism, tried to extort money from a founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders. Also targeted were the director of the Arte TV channel, a Paris lawyer and the head of a supermarket chain, the newspaper reported, citing police officials.

Police investigating the murder of Halimi earlier this month have made several arrests. The suspected gang leader, was arrested Wednesday in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and France is seeking his extradition. Fourteen people have been placed under investigation - a step short of being charged - in the case, and two more people were detained Friday for questioning.

Ilan Halimi was abducted on January 21 after a woman came into the mobile phone store where he worked and charmed him into a dinner date. The first break in the case came after the police released an Identikit image of the woman suspected of "baiting" Halimi. After turning herself in our of fears that neighbors would identify her, the woman claimed that she was indeed asked to seduce a number of young men, but was unaware of the act's purpose. She identified the apartment where Halimi had been kept.

Halimi was found on February 13, tied to a tree, naked, wounded, handcuffed, gagged and covered with burn and cut marks on 80 percent of his body. Authorities found Halimi near railroad tracks in the Essonne region south of Paris a few days after the kidnappers ended contact with Halimmi's family. He died en route to a hospital.

"They acted with indescribable cruelty," the judiciary police chief leading the investigation said. "They kept him naked and tied up for weeks. They cut him and in the end poured flammable liquid on him and set him alight."

Halimi's family received a series of ransom demands - starting with one for nearly $537,000. Ilan Halimi's mother revealed to the Haaretz newspaper that the police told the family to ignore the gang's attempts to contact them for five critical days, after which Ilan was found near death outside the city. "Five days before Ilan was found, the police told us, 'Don't answer the phone, don't repond to text messages.' We saw dozens of calls and ignored them. On Thursday they found Ilan dead."

"We think there is anti-Semitism in this affair," Rafi Halimi, Ilan's uncle, told the press.

"First, because the killers tried to kidnap at least two other Jews, and second, because of what they said on the phone," Rafi Halimi added. "When we said we didn't have 500,000 euros to give them they told us to go to the synagogue and get it," Rafi said. "They also recited verses from the Koran."

Under questioning by investigators, one of the suspects "made it clear that he had attacked Ilan Halimi 'because he was Jewish, and Jews are rich".

"If Ilan hadn't been Jewish, he wouldn't have been murdered," Ilan's mom said. She accuses the police of ignoring the anti-Semitic motivation in the case in order not to alienate Muslims, Haaretz reported.

According to a recent article on this subject by Caroline Glick, she states, "It appears that Ilan Halimi's murderers had some connection to Hamas. Tuesday, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said that police found propaganda published by the Palestinian Charity Committee or the CBSP at the home of one of the suspects. The European Jewish Press reported this week that Israel has alleged that the organization is a front group for Palestinian terrorists and that in August 2003 the US government froze the organization's US bank accounts, accusing it of links with Hamas."

It is clear that the French authorities remain callous and indifferent when it comes to Jews being murdered on their soil or anywhere else. This attitude was evidenced in their initial denial that anti-Semitism played a role in this murder and their expressed policy of ignoring any evidence of anti-Semitism.

This may be the first act of Hamas terrorism directed against a Jew outside of Israel, but clearly it won't be the last. Everyday, we are being saturated with the anti-Semitic diatribes of an Iranian President named Ahmadnajed, of Hamas leaders and leading intellectuals. We can no longer deny it. Anti-Semitism is in full swing. It can only get worse.

 

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