Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A French court has jailed 25 alleged Islamist militants for planning attacks in France

BBC News:

The main defendants received jail terms of eight to 10 years, while others were jailed for six months or more. Two defendants were acquitted.

Prosecutors said the group's intended targets may have included the Eiffel Tower, the Halles shopping centre, police stations and Israeli interests.

The group was accused of "jihad" links with Chechen militants fighting Russia.

The ringleaders of the group, most of whom came from Algeria, allegedly received training in Afghanistan or in the war-torn southern Russian republic of Chechnya.

Prosecutors said the group plotted in 2001-2002 to attack targets in the French capital.

When it was raided in December 2002, the court heard, the group was "close to action".

Police found gas canisters, fuses and a chemical protection suit in the northern Paris suburbs of La Corneuve and Romainville.

In a second wave of arrests about a year later in Venissieux, in south-east France, chemical products including ricin were discovered.

The court convicted 24 defendants of the broad charge of criminal association in relation with a terrorist enterprise. The other was convicted of using false papers.

Merouane Benhamed, 33, described as the group's chief, and Menad Benchellali, 32, the group's alleged chemicals expert, were jailed for 10 years.

Benchellali's father, an imam from Lyon, received an 18-month suspended prison term.

Said Arif, 40, and Nourredine Merabet, described as the group's financier, were sentenced to nine years.

Islamists jailed over plot to attack Paris

You can't believe your lyin' eyes


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