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Al-Qaïda à la conquête du Maghreb : Le terrorisme aux portes de l'Europe

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  • #16

    Mardi 30 Décembre 2008 -- La Ministre Française de l’Intérieur, Mme Michèle Alliot-Marie, a révélé les craintes des autorités sécuritaires Françaises des attaques que les terroristes Islamistes pourraient perpétrer sur le sol Français à l’occasion de la célébration du nouvel an. Elle a déclaré, hier, au journal Le Parisienque le terrorisme à caractère islamiste représente une menace réelle et permanente. Mme Michèle Alliot-Marie a expliqué que les autorités « sont obligées d’être vigilantes en permanence, chose que les services de Renseignements sont entrain de faire.» Elle veut dire par là que les services de Renseignements sont entrain de collecter toutes les informations et renseignements afin de déjouer d’éventuels attentats terroristes. « Grâce à l’efficacité des services de Renseignements en 2008, nous avons réussi à démanteler plusieurs réseaux qui représentent des dangers réels. Il s’agit de réseaux qui ont des rapports avec l’organisation d’Al Qaïda au Maghreb Islamique», a-t-elle indiqué. Mme Alliot-Marie a révélé que les autorités ont décidé de déployer 7 mille Hommes à l’occasion de la célébration de la nouvelle année, prévue pour la soirée du 31 décembre. Elle a déclaré que deux mille Gendarmes et policiers supplémentaires renforceront le dispositif sécuritaire dans la région Parisienne, à Lyon, à Marseille et à Strasbourg. Les craintes d’éventuelles attaques terroristes ont resurgit, ajouta-t-elle, après moins de deux semaines de la découverte d’explosifs dans les magasins « le Printemps» à Paris.


    • #17

      Algiers, March 4, 2009 (AKI) - Al-Qaeda was seeking to recruit illegal immigrants in Europe for potential suicide attacks in Italy, Spain and France, an Algerian daily has claimed. A report in the daily Ennahar on Tuesday said Al-Qaeda had begun trying to recruit illegal immigrants in Europe, because it had not been able to find new recruits in Arab countries following elections in the United States and Israel.

      "Two men, a Pakistani and a Bosnian offered me a proposal. They asked me to collaborate with Al-Qaeda in exchange for money," said Ahmad al-Shalafi, an Algerian immigrant who spoke to the daily by telephone after being approached by alleged Al-Qaeda officials.

      "I would have had to recruit people from the local Islamic and African communities to carry out a suicide attack," he said.

      Shalafi is an illegal Algerian immigrant who lives in Spain and works as a security official at a nightclub using fake documents and presenting himself as a Moroccan immigrant. He said he migrated illegally to Spain in 2001 after crossing the Strait of Gibraltar in a makeshift boat.

      The daily said Algerians and Moroccans, who had illegally entered Italy, France and Spain by boat from North Africa, were then being asked to join the terror network, due to their precarious living conditions, lack of identification documents and poor integration in their host country.

      The news report said that Al-Qaeda also exploits the immigrants' resentment towards their new country as well as their home country, as they cannot renew their passport to legally return home.

      The newspaper, citing outside sources, claimed to know that Al-Qaeda is targeting illegal immigrants - but particularly Moroccan and Algerian immigrants - in order to infiltrate Europe.

      The daily also said that Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan had delegated this recruitment task to its North African branch, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb organisation, also present in Algeria.

      Ennahar also referred to European intelligence reports warning about possible attacks against the Israeli and U.S. embassies in European countries.

      One report to which the daily referred, does not exclude Al-Qaeda attacks on Eastern Europe due to security crackdowns which have prevented new militant recruitment in Spain, Italy and France.

      There are at least 365,000 Moroccan and 22,000 Algerian immigrants in Italy, according to the latest figures by Italy's central statistics agency ISTAT.


      • #18

        Jeudi 14 Mai 2009 -- Le ministère français de la défense, a engagé des débats à Paris, concernant la situation dans le sahel africain et les problèmes frontaliers. Des sources ont indiqué qu’un débat est en cours autour de ce que l’Europe qualifie de « nouvelles menaces », en référence à Al-Qaida au Maghreb Islamique. Le ministère français de la défense compte en effet dévoiler les résultats de ses travaux sur le dossier des groupes terroristes du sahel africain et du Sahara du sud algérien. Paris a centré les travaux du 11ème colloque de l’institut des études supérieures de la défense nationale, sur « les nouvelle menaces en Afrique ». Le débat autour de cette question a commencé, hier, et se poursuivra jusqu ‘à la semaine prochaine, à l’école militaire, sur «Al-Qaida au Maghreb » que l’Europe considère comme une « future menace» sur son territoire. L’intérêt français pour les menaces sur le sahel, suscite des inquiétudes en Afrique, que l’Algérie partage. Parallèlement au colloque qui se tient à Paris, la troisième rencontre des ministres africains de la défense débutera demain à Adis Abeba (Ethiopie) autour de l’activation de la force Africaine et la commission du commandement de l’Etat Major », qui s’occupera à travers les brigades du Nord dans le cadre des manœuvres européennes, des missions dans le cadre des efforts européens pour ce qui est connu par « la résolution africaine aux conflits et au terrorisme ». L’Europe, en particulier la France préfère, investir le terrain en intervenant militairement en Afrique centrale, en Afrique du nord, et dans les pays du sahel, alors que l’Algérie vise plutôt une renforcement de la coordination entre elle et les pays du sahel pour encercler les terroristes ».


        • #19

          WASHINGTON, July 9, 2009 — Al Qaeda’s affiliate in North Africa has carried out a string of slayings, bombings and other lethal attacks against Westerners and African security forces in recent weeks that have raised fears the terrorist group may be turning a more deadly corner. American and European security counterterrorism officials say that the attacks may signal the return of foreign fighters from the battlefields of Iraq, where they honed their bomb-making skills. The attacks also reflect Al Qaeda’s growing tentacles in the northern tier of Africa, outside the group’s main sanctuary in Pakistan’s tribal areas, the officials say.

          In just the past month, the group has claimed credit for killing a kidnapped British hostage in Mali, killing an American aid worker in Mauritania, murdering a senior Malian army officer in his home and ambushing a convoy of nearly two dozen Algerian paramilitary forces. Last weekend, fighters from the Algeria-based affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, ambushed a Malian army patrol in Mali’s northern desert, killing nearly a dozen soldiers and capturing several others, American military officials said. Several militants were also killed.

          Assessing the militant threat in North Africa is complicated. Some security and counterterrorism officials say the group is more a criminal gang — ransoming kidnapped Westerners for millions of dollars to finance their operations — than ideologically committed terrorists. Other terrorism officials point to the attacks as evidence of the group’s intent to expand its longtime antigovernment insurgency in Algeria to other North African countries and possibly Europe, where the group has financial and logistical supporters.

          “AQIM has become much stronger in Algeria and Mauritania, and the killing of the British hostage and the American is a message they are not only concentrating on Maghreb issues, they are now part of the global jihad,” said a senior French counterterrorism official, using the acronym for the group’s name. Last week, the leader of the Qaeda wing, Abdelmalek Droukdal, threatened a “flagrant war” against France in retaliation for an effort by France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to ban burqas, the head-to-toe garments, in the republic, calling them a symbol of “enslavement.”

          The recent surge in violence has been less audacious than the group’s attack in December 2007, in which suicide bombers struck the United Nations and court offices in Algiers, killing 41 people and wounding 170 others. But some American intelligence analysts say there are initial signs that small numbers of foreign fighters from North Africa who fought in Iraq are returning home. “Is there a threat? There sure is a threat,” Gen. William E. Ward, the head of the United States Africa Command, told reporters in Dakar, Senegal, recently. Still other officials say the mayhem may be partly the result of an increasingly vicious rivalry between two Qaeda subcommanders in Mali — Mokhtar Belmokhtar and Abdelhamid Abu Zeid — a clash that underscores the kind of autonomous jihad cells that counterterrorism officials say are particularly hard to combat.

          Lauren C. Ploch, an Africa specialist with the Congressional Research Service, said that the extremist Islamist ideology of Al Qaeda was unlikely to garner much sympathy or traction with the populations in the states of the Sahel belt, the southern boundary of the Sahara. “Nevertheless,” Ms. Ploch said, “the vast spaces in northern Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and southern Algeria are extremely difficult to police, so it’s quite possible that we may see surges in extremist activity in certain countries depending on how well their neighbors are able to control their own territories.”

          The group originated in the 1990s to fight Algeria’s secular government, and in 2007 it renamed itself from the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. It singled out Western targets even before the name change. In December 2006, militants in Algeria bombed a bus carrying workers with an affiliate of Halliburton, the American oil services company. A year later, gunmen wielding AK-47 rifles killed four French tourists in Mauritania.

          The latest spate of violence began when the Qaeda group killed a Briton, Edwin Dyer, on May 31, one day after the expiration of its second deadline for its demand to be met. He had been taken hostage on Jan. 22 along with a Swiss citizen and two other tourists in Niger, close to the border with Mali, and was held in Mali. The group demanded the release of Abu Qatada, a Jordanian-born Palestinian cleric held in Britain whom a Spanish judge has called the leading Qaeda lieutenant in Europe, as well as $14 million for Mr. Dyer and the Swiss national. About two weeks later, gunmen in northern Mali killed a senior Malian army intelligence officer who had arrested several members of the Qaeda group, which uses the vast northern Malian desert as a staging area and support base. Within days, Malian army forces retaliated, capturing a militant base near the Algerian border and killing more than two dozen fighters, according to Malian media reports. At about the same time in neighboring Algeria, militants using roadside bombs and automatic rifles ambushed a convoy of paramilitary police about 110 miles east of Algiers, killing 18 members of the security forces.

          Algerian security forces have long battled the Islamist militants, but security officials they are also now offering military and intelligence support to poorer neighboring countries like Mali, where the insurgents have sought refuge. “With the kidnappings impacting on Mali’s tourism industry, the country seems to be taking the situation more seriously and the Algerians are offering more support,” said Jeremy Binnie, a senior analyst at Jane’s Terrorism & Insurgency Center. General Ward, the American commander in Africa, said in response to the killings that Army Green Berets would redouble training efforts under way with several regional militaries to improve their counterterrorism abilities.

          In Europe, the authorities are eyeing Al Qaeda’s North African wing warily, expressing concern about its threats to attack European countries that have deployed troops to Afghanistan. “What we see here is indeed a lot of logistic support from people who are active in Maghreb,” one Belgian security official said. “They are collecting money, faking papers and giving safe haven. They are active in indoctrination and radicalization of people and sending them for training.” But these officials have mixed views on whether the group can strike outside Africa. “We don’t rule out that Al Qaeda will try to attack us and then AQIM would play probably an important role,” said August Hanning, state secretary of the German Interior Ministry. “But we see an increase of danger for German interests in North Africa and the Sahel.”


          • #20

            CAIRO, September 25, 2009 — Osama bin Laden demanded that European countries pull their troops out of Afganistan in a new audiotape Friday, warning of "retaliation" against them for their alliance with the United States in the war. The al-Qaida leader denounced NATO airstrikes in Afghanistan that have killed civilians and warned that European countries would be held accountable alongside the Americans unless they pull out.

            "A wise person would not waste his sons and money for a gang of criminals in Washington ... In summary, we are not asking too much or an invalid demand, but it would be be fair that you lift your opression and withdraw your troops," bin Laden said, addressing the Europeans. The audiotape, just under five minutes long, was posted Friday on Islamic militant Web sites. It comes after a series of al-Qaida videos this week directly addressing Germany, threatening attacks over that country's involvement in Afghanistan. Those videos featured a little-known German-Algerian militant and have raised concerns among German authorities ahead of parliamentary elections.

            Bin Laden's tape came as a voice-over on a video that had English and German subtitles translating his speech, along with a still photo of bin Laden in front of a European map. Bin Laden predicted that American forces would soon pull out of the country, abandoning their European allies, and warned that al-Qaida would then retaliate against them. It was not clear whether his threat was aimed at European troops in Afghanistan or against European countries themselves.

            "It won't be long before the war's dust in Afghanistan clears out, and you will not find a trace of an American (soldier) ... and it will be only us and you left," he said, addressing Europeans. "How do think you will fare after America pulls out — Allah permitting — allowing us to retaliate from the oppressor on behalf of the oppressed?" he said.

            The authenticity of the tape could not be immediatly verified, though the voice resembled that on previous recordings confirmed to be by bin Laden. The video carried the logo of al-Qaida's media arm, Al-Sahab. The al-Qaida leader is believed to be hiding in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.


            • #21

              Mardi 6 Octobre 2009 -- Le Numéro 2 d'Al-Qaïda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, a promis dans un message vidéo de continuer à verser le sang des Occidentaux pour venger les "crimes" commis contre des musulmans, a indiqué lundi le centre de surveillance des sites islamistes IntelCenter. Ayman al-Zawahiri a dédié son message, diffusé dimanche, à un chef d'Al-Qaïda, Ali Mohamed Al-Fakheri, alias "Ibn al cheikh Al Libi", mort au début de l'année dans une prison libyenne, selon IntelCenter basé aux Etats-Unis. "Les Etats-Unis nous trompent avec le souriant Obama qui recherche la paix et défend les droits de l'Homme", a déclaré al-Zawahiri. "Oh, les assassins, les sangsues", a dit al-Zawahiri en ajoutant: "nous verserons votre sang et détruirons votre économie jusqu'à ce que vous arrêtiez vos crimes, oh arrogants insolents". "Oh, vous qui versez le sang, vous qui tuez des innocents, a-t-il poursuivi, si Dieu le veut nous nous vengerons pour chaque combattant, chaque veuve, chaque orphelin, chaque musulman et nous défendrons tous ceux que vous opprimez dans le monde". "Avec l'aide de Dieu, nous vous parlerons la langue que vous comprenez jusqu'à ce que vous arrêtiez vos crimes", a-t-il ajouté. La vidéo a été diffusée par la société de production d'Al-Qaïda, as-Sahab, selon IntelCenter.

              "Ibn al-Cheikh Al-Libi a été tué en Libye" et "votre administration a été complice du régime libyen dans son meurtre", accuse Zawahiri à l'adresse du président américain Barack Obama. Il ajoute que ce Libyen avait été "le chef militaire des moujahidine arabes lors de la bataille de Tora Bora" lancée par les Etats-Unis en 2001 pour la chasse au chef d'Al-Qaïda Oussama ben Laden, avant d'être arrêté au Pakistan et "torturé" durant sa détention dans plusieurs pays, dont l'Egypte. "Ibn al-Cheikh Al-Libi a été torturé en Egypte où on lui a arraché par la force de faux aveux sur un lien entre Al-Qaïda et le régime (irakien) de Saddam Hussein", l'une des raisons invoquées par Washington pour justifier l'invasion de l'Irak en 2003, affirme-t-il dans son message vidéo, mis en ligne par SITE Intelligence, un autre centre américain de surveillance de sites islamistes. La mort d'Ibn al-Cheikh Al-Libi avait été révélée le 10 mai par le journal libyen Oea, selon lequel il s'est suicidé dans sa prison en Libye.


              • #22

                Jeudi 8 Octobre 2009 -- Deux personnes, âgés de 25 et 32 ans, ont été arrêtés, jeudi 8 octobre dans la matinée, à Vienne, dans le département de l’Isère en France, selon des sources policières citées par des médias français. Placés en garde à vue, ils devraient être déférés vendredi à la Direction centrale du renseignement intérieur (DCRI). Les deux hommes, deux frères de nationalité française, sont soupçonnés d’avoir été en relation avec Al-Qaïda au Maghreb islamique (AQMI), notamment via des échanges de courriers électroniques. Leurs appartements ont été perquisitionnés et les policiers ont saisi leurs ordinateurs et du matériel informatique, selon la même source.


                • #23

                  October 9, 2009 -- France has arrested a researcher at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Cern) for suspected links with al-Qaeda, officials have said. The 32-year-old man of Algerian descent was one of two brothers detained in the south-east town of Vienne on Thursday. Police believe they had been in contact over the internet with people linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and had been planning attacks in France. Cern's particle collider is aiming to recreate conditions of the Big Bang. The organisation told the Associated Press that the researcher, whom it did not identify, was working for an outside institute and had no contact with anything that could have been used for terrorism. Computers, hard drives and USB storage devices were removed from the brothers' home after their arrest.


                  • #24

                    Vendredi 9 Octobre 2009 -- «C'est du très haut niveau», commente laconiquement un expert de la structure centralisée antiterroriste à Paris. L'arrestation de deux islamistes présumés jeudi, à Vienne (Isère), par les hommes de la Direction centrale du renseignement intérieur (DCRI), pourrait bien représenter une étape importante dans la traque aux réseaux d'al-Qaida. Car le profil des suspects n'a rien à voir avec les classiques recrues de banlieue qui encombrent les rôles de la justice dans les dossiers islamistes. Il ne s'agit pas de petits délinquants frustrés versés dans l'action radicale après s'être fait laver le cerveau par des prêcheurs fanatiques. Cette fois, l'un des suspects arrêtés, un Français d'origine algérienne de 32 ans, était chercheur au Cern, l'organisation européenne pour la recherche nucléaire, basée à Genève et située de part et d'autre de la frontière franco-suisse. L'autre est son frère, âgé de 25 ans. Mais l'aîné est de loin le plus intéressant pour la police. Il était pisté depuis un an et demi par les services antiterroristes, débusqué au détour de l'enquête conduite par le pôle antiterroriste parisien sur les filières afghanes.

                    «Nous avons peut-être évité le pire»

                    Alors que la garde à vue des deux hommes se poursuit dans les locaux de DCRI à Levallois (Hauts-de-Seine), Le Figaro est en mesure d'affirmer que la justice soupçonne l'aîné des deux frères d'avoir cherché à commettre des attentats en France. La police aurait intercepté des échanges de l'intéressé sur internet avec des personnes identifiées comme étant en lien avec al-Qaida pour le Maghreb islamique (Aqmi). Dans ces messages, il aurait même désigné plusieurs cibles possibles pour commettre des actions terroristes dans l'Hexagone. Son cursus universitaire et son degré élevé de réflexion laissent penser qu'il ne pouvait s'agir d'un projet relevant du simple fantasme. La DCRI, en tout cas, a jugé qu'il était temps de lui réclamer des comptes. Et la justice a donc ouvert une instruction spécifique en septembre 2009 pour cueillir ce gros poisson présumé. Lors des perquisitions menées chez les deux frères, les enquêteurs ont pu saisir deux ordinateurs, trois disques durs et des clés USB, qui ont immédiatement été envoyés à l'expertise auprès de services spécialisés en police technique et scientifique. Ils permettront peut-être de recouper certains éléments captés à distance par les limiers de l'antiterrorisme. Les policiers espèrent également y récupérer des informations sur les contacts et les projets du duo qui aimait à surfer sur les sites islamistes.

                    Jeudi, le ministre de l'Intérieur, fort bien renseigné sur ce dossier, semblait ménager le suspens : « L'enquête dira sans doute quels étaient les objectifs en France ou ailleurs et indiquera peut-être que nous avons évité le pire », a-t-il déclaré alors qu'il se trouvait en déplacement à Lyon. La cité des Gaules où précisément les deux suspects ont commencé leurs premières heures de garde à vue… Brice Hortefeux n'a pas voulu en dire davantage, mais il rappelle les enjeux de ce dossier : «Nous sommes en situation de vigilance permanente, nous suivons attentivement au jour le jour les déclarations des responsables de certaines organisations. Notre vigilance ne se relâche jamais. Le risque est permanent », a-t-il affirmé jeudi. Il a également rappelé que certains responsables d'organisations terroristes «se sont exprimés publiquement» en visant la France. Al-Qaida pour le Maghreb islamique (Aqmi) reste la principale menace terroriste en France. Ce mouvement terroriste qui a succédé en 2007 au GSPC algérien (Groupe salafiste pour la prédication et le combat) est particulièrement actif dans les pays du Maghreb, en Mauritanie et au Mali. Combien compte-t-il de partisans de ce côté-ci de la Méditerranée ? D'autres profils de haut niveau œuvrent-ils dans l'ombre à la réalisation de ses funestes projets ? Une chose est certaine : la police espère beaucoup de cette enquête qui l'a déjà menée de l'Isère à la Suisse en passant par l'Algérie.


                    • #25

                      Vendredi 9 Octobre 2009 -- Un islamiste présumé, arrêté jeudi à Vienne dans le département de l'Isère (France) en compagnie de son frère, est ingénieur au Centre européen de recherche nucléaire de Genève (CERN). Il est soupçonné d’avoir envisagé de commettre un attentat en France, a-t-on appris vendredi de source proche du dossier. Les deux hommes, de nationalité française, sont soupçonnés d’avoir été en relation par internet avec des membres d’Al-Qaïda au Maghreb islamique (Aqmi).

                      Pas d'application militaire

                      Le CERN confirme dans un communiqué que l'individu arrêté est un physicien qui travaillait sur des "projets d'analyse de données de physique pour l'expérience LHC" depuis 2003. Il précise aussi qu'il n'était pas employé par le CERN mais disposait d'un contrat avec un institut extérieur. "Durant son travail, il n'a jamais été en contact avec quelque élément qui pourrait être utilisé à des fins terroristes" explique le communiqué, ajoutant qu' "aucune des recherches menées au CERN n'a d'application militaire potentielle".

                      Pas d'acte matériel

                      C’est dans le cadre d’une autre enquête, qui visait une filière présumée de jihadistes vers l’Afghanistan, que des échanges par internet entre un des ces deux hommes et un membre de l’Aqmi avaient été repérés, selon une source judiciaire. Les enquêteurs avaient en effet déjà "ciblé" l’aîné des frères H. et seraient en possession de plusieurs de ses textes, grâce à la "veille internet". Celui-ci en était au stade de "souhait, d’envie", mais ne semble "pas avoir commis d’actes matériels de préparation" d’attentat, a-t-on indiqué de sources proches du dossier. Parmi les nombreux échanges par internet effectués avec des personnes connues pour être des proches d’Aqmi, en Afrique du Nord, le frère aîné, 32 ans, avait même dressé une liste de plusieurs objectifs, selon le site internet du quotidien français le Figaro. "Il aurait renseigné Al Qaïda sur des sites à frapper dans l'Hexagone" précise le quotidien. Lors de l'arrestation des deux frères à leur domicile jeudi, les enquêteurs ont procédé à des perquisitions et saisi deux ordinateurs portables, trois disques durs et des clefs USB.

                      L’Aqmi a succédé en 2007 au GSPC algérien (Groupe salafiste pour la prédication et le combat). Ce groupe, qui a prêté allégeance à la mouvance Al-Qaïda, est particulièrement actif dans les pays du Maghreb, en Mauritanie et au Mali. C’est dans le cadre d’une autre enquête, qui visait une filière présumée de jihadistes vers l’Afghanistan, que des échanges par internet entre un des ces deux hommes et un membre de l’Aqmi avaient été repérés, selon une source judiciaire. Les enquêteurs avaient en effet déjà "ciblé" l’aîné des frères H. et seraient en possession de plusieurs de ses textes, grâce à la "veille internet". La captation des données informatiques permet d’intercepter à distance, discrètement et en temps réel, les données échangées par des internautes.


                      • #26

                        PARIS, October 9, 2009 — French agents have arrested an engineer working at the CERN nuclear research lab on suspicion of being in contact with the Al-Qaeda militant network and planning attacks, officials said Friday. "Perhaps we have avoided the worst," Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux told journalists, adding that investigators were trying to establish which targets in "France or elsewhere" the suspect was hoping to strike.

                        Security sources in Paris said the suspected Islamist, one of a pair of brothers detained on Thursday, worked at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research on the Franco-Swiss border just outside Geneva. The pair were arrested 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 had made contact over the Internet with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a North African offshoot of Osama bin Laden's loosely organised global Islamist militant movement. He had expressed a desire to carry out attacks, but had "not got to the stage of carrying out material acts of preparation", one said.

                        CERN confirmed a physicist working at the site had been arrested "under suspicion of links to terrorist organisations", and said it was helping the French police with their investigation. "He was not a CERN employee and performed his research under a contract with an outside institute. His work did not bring him into contact with anything that could be used for terrorism," it added in a statement.

                        According to a report on the newspaper Le Figaro's website, the suspects are a 32-year-old Frenchman of Algerian origin who has been the subject of a police inquiry for a year-and-a-half and his 25-year-old brother. The report, citing sources close to the inquiry, said the elder brother had had several Internet exchanges with figures considered close to Al-Qaeda and had provided a list of suggested French targets for attack.

                        Judicial sources told AFP that investigators had come upon the pair while monitoring the Internet as part of a separate inquiry into the recruitment of would-be jihadists to send to Afghanistan as guerrillas. Intelligence agents recorded several incriminating exchanges between the brothers and suspected Al-Qaeda contacts. Two laptops, three hard drives and several USB memory sticks were seized from their home, they said. "We are in a situation of permanent alert. We follow statements made by the leaders of certain organisations day by day. We never let our guard down. The danger is permanent," Hortefeux said.

                        Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was born in 2007 when a largely-Algerian militant group, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, swore allegiance to Bin Laden and rebranded itself as his organisation's local franchise. Intelligence officials consider it one of the most serious threats to France, which has a large North African diaspora population.

                        CERN is Europe's leading laboratory for the study of the fundamentals of sub-atomic physics. It operates particle accelerators to study the behaviour of atoms at high speed and learn about the basic laws of nature. It is a civilian organisation, backed by 20 member states, and is not connected to nuclear weapons technology. The lab said the suspect had been working on the "LHCb experiment" which its website says "will help us to understand why we live in a universe that appears to be composed almost entirely of matter, but no antimatter."


                        • #27

                          PARIS, October 10, 2009 — The younger of two brothers arrested in France on suspicion of links to the Al-Qaeda militant 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 by Monday to authorities in Paris who deal with anti-terrorist matters. 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 just outside Geneva, had been planning to commit at least one attack, according to sources close to the case. CERN has said the man arrested had been working with the high-profile Large Hadron Collider experiment, which aimed 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 in Vienne on Thursday, 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 had made contact over the Internet with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a North African offshoot of Osama bin Laden's loosely organised global Islamist militant movement. He had expressed a desire to carry out attacks, but had "not got 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 had been the subject of a police inquiry for a year-and-a-half. Judicial sources told AFP that investigators had come upon the pair while monitoring the Internet as part of a separate inquiry into the recruitment of would-be jihadists to send to Afghanistan as guerrillas. CERN confirmed on Friday that a physicist working at the site had been arrested over alleged terrorist links but added that "his work did not bring him into contact with anything that could be used for terrorism". Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was born in 2007 when a largely Algerian militant group, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, swore allegiance to Bin Laden and rebranded itself as his organisation's local franchise. Intelligence officials consider it one of the most serious threats to France, which has a large North African population.


                          • #28

                            October 10, 2009 -- Nuclear physicist Dr Adlene Hicheur, arrested in France after allegedly plotting to carry out al-Qaeda terrorist attacks, had previously worked at a British scientific research laboratory, it can be disclosed. Dr Hicheur, 32, worked at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Didcot, Oxfordshire, four years ago where he was carrying out research into nuclear physics. It is understood that MI5 and the Metropolitan Police have been in contact with the French secret service – the Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence – and are trying to establish whether there are any UK links to the terror plot. The scientist was arrested with his 25-year-old brother Dr. Halim Hicheur on Thursday as he left for work at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, in the outskirts of Geneva on the Swiss-French border.

                            The men, who are French Algerian, are being detained in a high security prison near Paris. Christophe Teissier, a judge, said they were being held under suspicion of "criminal activities related to a terrorist group". They can be held for four days before being formally charged. Investigators described the older man as "very high level" and said that he had been in contact with individuals linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim) – the North African wing of the terrorist network – about potential targets in France. General Sir David Richards, the new head of the British Army, warned last week that if al-Qaeda terrorists managed to get their hands on nuclear weapons they would use them against Britain and the west. In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, he said: "If al-Qaeda and the Taliban believe they have defeated us – what next? Would they stop at Afghanistan? Pakistan is clearly a tempting target, not least because of the fact that it is a nuclear-weaponed state and that is a terrifying prospect. Even if only a few of those [nuclear] weapons fell into their hands, believe me they would use them. The recent airlines plot has reminded us that there are people out there who would happily blow all of us up."

                            A Whitehall source last night said: "It is too early at this stage to say how serious this situation might be." Intelligence sources said Hicheur had expressed a "wish, a desire" to carry out a terrorist attack but had "not committed material preparatory acts". Brice Hortefeux, the French interior minister, said both men posed a sufficient threat to halt an 18-month surveillance operation and bring them in. He also appeared to confirm reports that the suspect had drawn up a list of potential targets for terrorist attacks in Europe. He said: " The inquiry will no doubt tell us what were the targets in France or elsewhere and will indicate that perhaps we have avoided the worst." The brothers apparently came to the attention of the secret services when agents monitored the internet as part of an inquiry into the recruitment of extremists to fight in Afghanistan. Several exchanges were recorded between the two men and suspected al-Qaeda contacts.

                            A spokesman from CERN said: "We can confirm that Adlene Hicheur was a member of the experimental collaboration at CERN. He was based at the Federal Polytechnic Institute in Lausanne. We are taking the matter very seriously and are helping the French police with their enquiries." A source at CERN added: "It's quite likely that he had access to the experimental zones rather than just the office and academic areas." The men had been tailed by the French secret service for 18 months. The surveillance was called off last Thursday and the men arrested because they were believed to pose a serious threat. Under anti-terror laws, they can be held for four days before being charged.

                            The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory is operated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), an independent public body which funds scientists and their experiments in the UK. The lab, regarded as a world leader, employs 1,200 staff and provides support for more than 10,000 scientists and engineers. It specialises in such areas as materials and structures, light sources, astronomy and particle physics. A spokesman for the STFC said: "The French authorities have not identified the persons arrested. The STFC is not therefore in a position to confirm, or speculate about, the identity of the persons arrested in France in connection to alleged links to a terrorist organisation." CERN has 2,400 full-time staff members and a further 6,071 scientists, of which Hicheur was one, from 20 member countries. There is no accommodation on site and many of the scientists live in Geneva or just over the border in France. The nuclear research body claimed Hicheur's work "did not bring him into contact with anything that could be used for terrorism" He was educated at a local high school in Vienne and completed his university studies with a PhD at Annecy Laboratory of Particle Physics in 2003.


                            • #29

                              Dimanche 11 Octobre 2009 -- Un chercheur français d’origine algérienne travaillant au sein de l’Organisation européenne pour la recherche nucléaire (CERN), responsable du plus grand accélérateur de particules au monde, a été arrêté jeudi dernier, en France, par la Direction centrale du renseignement intérieur (DCRI). Il est soupçonné d’avoir entretenu des liens avec le groupe salafiste pour la prédication et le combat (GSPC), responsable de plusieurs attentats en Algérie. Le groupe est également derrière l’enlèvement des diplomates canadiens Robert Fowler et Louis Guay. Cinq mois après sa libération, Robert Fowler s’était exprimé au sujet de son enlèvement. Il a été séquestré l’année dernière à 40 kilomètres à l’ouest de Niamey, avec un de ses collaborateurs et leur chauffeur. Cet enlèvement a été revendiqué par le GSPC. L’envoyé spécial des Nations unies pour le Niger avait accordé un long entretien exclusif à la haine de télévision CBC News dans lequel il avait affirmé que ses ravisseurs avaient un informateur à l’ONU ou au sein du gouvernement de Niamey : «Je sais que quelqu’un m’a vendu», avait-t-il déclaré. Robert Fowler, détenu durant quatre mois, avait été nommé envoyé spécial pour le Niger sur le dossier de la rébellion par le secrétaire général des Nations unies Ban Ki-moon. Robert Fowler, son collaborateur Louis Guay et leur chauffeur ont été enlevés le 14 décembre 2008 dans la région de Tillabéry au Niger. Ce jour-là, ils rentraient de la visite d’une mine d’or exploitée par des Canadiens. Le scientifique arrêté est âgé de 32 ans et a été interpellé à Vienne, une ville située à une vingtaine de kilomètres au sud de Lyon. Son frère de 25 ans a été arrêté au même moment. Les policiers ont saisi des ordinateurs portables et du matériel informatique dans l’appartement des deux inculpés. Les deux hommes sont actuellement détenus par la DCRI, mais ils ne sont accusés de rien jusqu’à présent. Selon une source judiciaire, «l’aîné était pisté depuis un an et demi par les services antiterroristes dans le cadre d’une enquête antiterroriste sur les filières afghanes à Paris». Dans des communications interceptées par la police, il aurait désigné des cibles possibles pour des attentats en sol français. Selon une mise au point du CERN, ce physicien qui travaillait sur des projets d’analyse de données de physique pour l’expérience LHCb au CERN depuis 2003 «n’était pas employé par le CERN et poursuivait ses recherches dans le cadre d’un contrat avec un institut extérieur». Durant son travail, ajoute la mise au point, «il n’a jamais été en contact avec quelque élément qui pourrait être utilisé à des fins terroristes». Le CERN est un laboratoire de recherche en physique des particules dont les recherches posent des questions fondamentales sur l’Univers : «aucune des recherches menées au CERN n’a d’application militaire potentielle, et tous nos résultats sont publiés sur le domaine public» a conclu le centre.


                              • #30

                                PARIS, October 11, 2009 — A French physicist arrested last week while working at the world's largest atom smasher has acknowledged to investigators that he corresponded over the Internet with a contact in North Africa's al-Qaida branch, a judicial official said Sunday. The Internet exchange vaguely discussed plans for terror attacks, but nothing concrete was planned, the French judicial official said, speaking on condition that his name not be used because the investigation is ongoing. The 32-year-old Frenchman of Algerian origin was one of more than 7,000 scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. He and his brother were taken into custody Thursday in southeastern French city of Vienne. The brother was released from custody Saturday, the official said. The physicist was still being held in the Paris area on Sunday, with no charges filed against him. Under French law, terror suspects can be held without charges for up to four days.

                                U.S. monitors picked up the Internet exchange between the scientist and his contact in the militant group, known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, the judicial official said. The North African group regularly targets government and security forces in Algeria, and occasionally attacks foreigners. At work, the physicist had no contact with anything that could be used for terrorism, the European Organization for Nuclear Research has said. The experiment where he worked is one of a series of research projects along the 17-mile (27-kilometer) circular tunnel under the Swiss-French border. The arrest has added to the woes of the $10 billion particle collider. The collider started up spectacularly in September 2008 with beams of particles flying in both directions on the first day of trying. But nine days later, a massive electric failure related to a construction fault caused the entire machine to shut down. It has been undergoing repairs almost ever since with the bill expected to total about 40 million Swiss francs ($40 million) over the course of several years.


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