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

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  • #31

    October 11, 2009 -- A physicist arrested on suspicion of collaborating with Islamist fighters while working for the world’s largest nuclear research institute reportedly made references to terrorist attacks in emails intercepted by U.S. intelligence services. The 32-year-old French scientist of Algerian descent, who had also been employed by British government laboratories, was allegedly in contact with the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a mainly Algerian militant network that associates itself with al-Qaeda. “In his exchanges with the AQIM, he spoke of plans for attacks in general, but we’re not talking on an operational level, it was not a case of means or dates,” a magistrate, who asked not to be named, alleged. The suspect had been under surveillance for a year as part of a wider investigation into the recruitment of fighters in Afghanistan. US intelligence services alerted French anti-terrorism authorities after intercepting his emails. The physicist was seized hours before he was due to travel to Switzerland, where he works between Cern, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, near Geneva, and the Federal Polytechnic Institute, in Lausanne. A spokesman for Cern, a centre for research on particle physics, said he had been working with the high-profile Large Hadron Collider experiment, which aimed to investigate how the Universe formed after the “Big Bang”. The institute said on Friday that his work did not bring him into contact with anything that could be used for terrorism. Yesterday, a colleague described the physicist as “a considerate person and exceptionally clever” man. The colleague, who did not wish to be named, said the physicist had been unwell this year, and was on leave from February until July because of a bad back. Four years ago the physicist worked at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Didcot, Oxfordshire, 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, in an attempt to establish if there are British links to the suspected activities. The suspect is due to appear before an anti-terrorist magistrate on Monday. His younger brother, who was arrested with him on Thursday in Vienne, south-eastern France, has been released without charge, said a spokesman for the Paris prosecutor’s office.


    • #32

      October 12, 2009 -- An internationally renowned nuclear physicist has admitted to French investigators that he led a second life as an al-Qa'ida "mole", according to French judicial sources. A picture began to emerge over the weekend of Adlène Hicheur, 32, who works at the "Big Bang" hadron collider on the Swiss-French border, and who is likely to be formally accused today of having "links with a terrorist organisation". However, his brother, Zitouni Hicheur, 25, who was arrested with him last Thursday at their parents' home just south of Lyon, has been released. Investigators believe the elder brother – who has worked on high-level, nuclear research projects in Britain and the United States – acted alone when he sent emails to Algerian members of al- Qa'ida and listed potential terrorist targets in France. According to the French Sunday newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche, French security services fear that Adlène Hicheur was being "groomed" to become the "pivot" of a terror campaign starting in France but possibly spreading to other European countries. One worrying line of inquiry suggests that members of ETA, the Basque separatist group, had also been recruited to "case" potential targets. Contrary to earlier reports, nuclear sites are not believed to have been on the list.

      Adlène Hicheur was once a research fellow at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Chilton in Oxfordshire, and studied for his PhD at Stanford University in California. He is the eldest of six brothers and sisters of Algerian-born parents, who live on a council estate in Vienne, just south of Lyon. The siblings, born in France, have each succeeded brilliantly in the French education system. No other family members are suspected of having al-Qa'ida links. Neighbours described the Hicheur family as devout and hard-working people who had lived there since the Seventies. "They were held out to young people here as an example of what you could achieve, whatever your background might be," a local youth worker said. "There is a state of shock at what has happened and some anger. People think this must be a mistake." French counter-terrorism and intelligence agencies have been tracking Adlène Hicheur for 18 months. Using sophisticated monitoring equipment which allows them to read emails as they are transmitted, French intelligence concluded in recent days that he had reached the "intention or desire stage" of preparing to mount an attack.


      • #33

        PARIS, October 12, 2009 — A French investigating judge has filed preliminary charges against a physicist at the world's largest atom smasher who is suspected of al-Qaida links, a judicial official said. The 32-year-old Frenchman of Algerian origin, who works on the Large Hadron Collider, is suspected of involvement with Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, a North African group that targets Algerian government forces and sometimes attacks foreigners. He was arrested Thursday in France. Investigating magistrate Christophe Teissier filed charges against the suspect for "criminal association with a terrorist enterprise," a broad charge that is often used in terror-related cases in France, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. French judicial officials have said the suspect has acknowledged that he corresponded online with the group and vaguely discussed plans for terror attacks. In line with French judicial policy, he has not been identified. Under French law, preliminary charges mean the investigating judge has determined there is strong evidence to suggest involvement in a crime. It gives the investigator time to pursue the inquiry before deciding whether to send the suspect to trial or drop the case.

        The well-educated physicist is one of more than 7,000 scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider, which straddles the border between France and Switzerland. "This guy has a doctorate in particle physics, so he's clearly an intelligent person. It does take some intelligence, it does take some dedication to achieve qualifications at that level," said James Gillies, spokesman for the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, which operates the collider. At CERN in Switzerland, the suspect worked in a laboratory to understand phenomena such as antimatter and the Big Bang theory on the origin of the universe. Gillies said that security controls to access the office where the suspect worked were fairly light but added that his "card didn't give him access to any of the underground facilities" and that there was nothing that would have interested terrorists. "There's nothing in there that people can steal and use for terrorist ends, nothing at all. It's all about personal safety. There are areas where we have cryogenic liquids, high magnetic fields, particle beams and so on, where you need specialist knowledge to be able to go there," Gillies said.

        CERN featured in Dan Brown's best-seller Angels & Demons, which was turned into a movie starring Tom Hanks. The plot hinges on a plan to destroy the Vatican with antimatter stolen from CERN. But that idea is "pure Hollywood" said Gillies. "If you run CERN flat-out it would take 250 million years to produce the quantity that was stolen from CERN in Angels & Demons, Gillies said. "There are far more efficient ways of creating that amount of destructive matter. It's not here that that's going to happen." CERN has said that none of its research has the potential for military application, and that all its results are published in the public domain. The suspect also worked in France and at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland. "We are pretty shocked and surprised," said Jerome Grosse, spokesman for the institute, where the suspect worked as an instructor in experimental physics. Grosse said that the scientist had not been seen at work for most of the year because he was ill but that he had been in touch via e-mail.


        • #34

          PARIS, October 12, 2009 — A French physicist with the European atomic research centre at Geneva was charged with terrorism offences by a Paris judge tonight after investigators alleged that he had offered to work with the north African wing of al-Qaeda. Adlene Hicheur, 32, who is of Algerian origin, was arrested last week with his younger brother after intelligence agents intercepted his alleged contacts on the internet with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The physicist, who works at the giant atomic collider at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern), which straddles Swiss and French territory, told the Islamic group that he was interested in committing an attack but he had not begun any material preparation, police sources said. He had acknowledged contacting the militant organisation, the sources said. The brother was released last weekend without charge.

          Judge Christophe Teissier of the anti-terrorist branch ordered the French internal security service, the DCRI, to open an investigation into the possible offence of “association with criminals in relation with a terrorist enterprise". He ordered that the scientist be detained. The arrest raised the possibility that Islamist militants could be seeking nuclear weapons technology or planning to attack nuclear targets. Mr Hicheur is reported to have worked for the British government’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Oxfordshire for about a year in 2005. He was placed under surveillance by French officers last year after American intelligence services intercepted Internet messages he allegedly sent to contacts close to (AQIM). His arrest last week has sparked a furious row among France’s anti-terrorist magistrates. Judge Teissier’s critics say that he missed a golden opportunity to obtain invaluable information about AQIM networks by moving to detain the suspect at an early stage in his investigation. They say he should have held off and kept the man under surveillance. Brice Hortefeux, the French Interior Minister, has also been attacked for publicising the arrest. Critics say the publicity will drive the suspect’s contacts underground.

          Cern said that Mr Hicheur, one of 7,000 scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider, did not have access to any of the underground facilities and that he did not handle anything that would interest terrorists. A spokesman described him as highly qualified. “This fellow has a doctorate in particle physics, so he is clearly an intelligent person,” he said. The scientist also worked as an instructor in experimental physics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. “We are pretty shocked and surprised,” said Jerome Grosse, spokesman for the institute. Residents in the suspect’s home town of Vienne, in eastern France, said his success had made him a role model for young Muslims. “They are good boys,” said one neighbour of the suspect and his brother. ”They are from a family of six children and from a very moderate Muslim family which is seen as a model of integration.” The suspect’s brother is reported to have graduated from the University of Paris with a degree in biomechanics of movement. After graduating, he taught at the 500-year old College de France in Paris – one of the country's most prestigious research institutes.


          • #35

            October 13, 2009 -- A nuclear scientist turned Al Qaeda agent was targeting a Total Oil refinery in a bid to cause an explosion which would have destroyed a city ‘the size of London’, it emerged today. Adlene Hicheur , 32, also compiled a ‘wish list’ of senior European politicians as ‘assassination targets’ including French president Nicolas Sarkozy and the country’s interior minister Brice Hortefeux. Hicheur is currently on remand in Paris after being charged on Monday afternoon with ‘criminal activities related to a terrorist group’. And today details of the ‘brilliant and solitary’ physician’s sinister plans were made public by security sources who have been collecting evidence against him for the past year-and-a-half during a surveillance operation. During that time he was using a pseudonym on the Internet as he corresponded with leading members of Al Qaeda’s notorious North African unit. Money transfers had already taken place between the two, as a plan was concocted to target Total, the multinational oil company which operates in most European countries including Britain and France. There had also been an exchange of ‘technical expertise’, with the young boffin offering his considerable scientific know-how. However, Adlene had ruled out any possibility of acting as a suicide bomber, insisting that a kamikaze attack would be less effective than a more conventional one. ‘He had offered his services to strike with an active service unit based in France,’ said the security source. ‘He had started to compile a precise list of intended targets including a Total oil refinery which would have caused an explosion which would have destroyed a city the size of London. Assassination targets including the president and interior minister were also on the list.’

            Agents working on the case suggested that Adlene, a Frenchman from a modest Algerian background, was part of a new breed of highly sophisticated terrorists who were a growing threat to global security. Hicheur, who worked for the CERN nuclear research laboratory near Geneva and also the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, now faces a lengthy prison sentence. Judge Christophe Teissier heard how the French authorities had been working with MI5 and the CIA to track Hicheur's movements around the world, with real fears that he had a nuclear attack in mind. The confession in a high-security jail near Paris came before his brother Zitouni, 25, was released without charge after three days of questioning. U.S. monitors picked up the internet exchange between Hicheur and his North African contacts. At CERN - the European Organisation for Nuclear Research - Hicheur, a devout Muslim, worked on the Large Hadron Collider, a device designed to recreate the conditions of the Big Bang. In 2001 he worked at prestigious Stanford University in California and by 2005 had moved to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. He has also worked in other university cities such as London, Manchester, Durham and Edinburgh. The brothers were arrested during a dawn raid last Thursday at their parents' council flat in Vienne near Lyon, south-eastern France. They were seized after an 18-month investigation by French anti-terror police during which both men made frequent visits to England. The arrests came hours before the older brother was due to travel to CERN's Geneva laboratory. French interior minister Brice Hortefeux said the threat posed by Hicheur was so serious that he had halted the 18-month surveillance operation and ordered his immediate arrest last week, making it clear that he feared a nuclear attack. Mr Hortefeux added that the apparently mild-mannered, deeply-religious Hicheur was a 'high-level threat' who was suspected of 'criminal activities related to a terror group'.


            • #36

              October 13, 2009 -- The brother of a particle physicist under investigation for having possible links to terrorism says that the charges are "completely false" and his brother is innocent. Yesterday, French authorities placed Adlène Hicheur, a postdoc at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), under formal investigation for possible 'criminal association in relation to a terrorist undertaking'. He has been held by police since 8 October, after a raid at his family's home in the town of Vienne, southeastern France.

              According to press reports, anti-terrorism police apparently have evidence that the 32-year-old may have had e-mail correspondence with "al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb" — the North African branch of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda — about potential targets for terrorist attacks within France. The public prosecutor's office in Paris, whose anti-terrorism unit is in charge of the case, said they could not comment as the case was ongoing.

              But speaking exclusively to Nature, Adlène Hicheur's brother Halim Hicheur claims that the charges are unjustified. He does not deny that family members frequently trade e-mails with people in Algeria. But he categorically denies there was any email correspondence with al-Qaeda. "Most of my family is from Algeria," he says. But he maintains that there is nothing in his family's background "that would have made us think about violence". "We are Muslims, we have never hidden this," Halim adds.

              Contrary to several press reports, Halim is a 30-year-old postdoc in biomechanics working in Germany and says that he was not arrested with Adlène on Thursday. "I have never been contacted by the police," he says, explaining that it was their 25-year-old youngest brother who was picked up by police and released without charge on 10 October.

              Based on conversations with other family members, Halim believes that Adlène's arrest is probably connected to a land purchase in Algeria. Halim told Nature that just before the police raid, Adlène withdrew €13,000 (US$19,200) in cash with which to purchase land near the family's ancestral home of Setif in northeastern Algeria. He says that the police were initially asking questions about the money.

              Atom smasher

              Colleagues of Adlène consider him to be a shy but brilliant young physicist who specializes in esoteric data analysis and the alignment of massive particle detectors. "For everybody here it's really a surprise," says Jérôme Grosse, a spokesperson for EPFL, where Adlène has worked since 2006.

              Adlène was born one of six siblings — three brothers and three sisters — to a working-class French-Algerian family. In 2000 he enrolled at the University of Savoie near Chambéry in France, where he finished first in his class in advanced particle theory. While pursuing his PhD, he studied the oscillations of particles containing bottom quarks, working at the BaBar experiment at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California.

              "He was very brilliant," says one physicist who has worked with Adlène but declined to be named because of the ongoing investigation. He often kept to himself but, the physicist adds, in a lab of theoretical physicists, his reserve was not seen as odd. "This personality is quite usual for our staff," he says.

              Adlène graduated in 2003, then later moved to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Didcot in Oxfordshire, UK, where he helped with the alignment of ATLAS, one of the detectors on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) — the world's most powerful particle accelerator located at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland. At EPFL, he worked on another LHC experiment known as LHC beauty (LHCb), testing and preparing a giant detector to collect more data on bottom quarks. Understanding such quarks and their anti-quark partners, physicists hope, could help explain the imbalance between matter and antimatter in the Universe.

              In a statement, CERN said that it "does not carry out research in the fields of nuclear power or nuclear weaponry" and that it addressed "fundamental questions about the nature of matter and the Universe". The physicist who worked with Adlène adds that there is nothing from Adlène's high-energy physics training that could have been used in a terrorist attack. "We don't have any material or anything you could use for bad things," he says, "except maybe a hammer."


              • #37

                October 14, 2009 -- French security officials have long regarded the Algerian jihadist movement al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) as the most immediate terrorism threat to Europe. Those fears appeared to have been substantiated last week with the arrest of a French physicist who is suspected of plotting terrorist attacks in Europe on AQIM's behalf. However, in an indication of the many options now open to aspiring radicals who want to put their extremism into action, investigators say the scientist linked up with AQIM only after police cracked down on another terrorist group he had been in contact with first.

                Revelations in the case have slowly emerged following the October 8 arrest of 32-year-old French-Algerian Adlène Hicheur, who holds a doctorate in particle physics. Hicheur was nabbed after intelligence officials intercepted encoded e-mails he sent to AQIM members offering to plan terrorist strikes in France. Reports in the French and British media initially focused on Hicheur's scientific work at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which has a gigantic particle collider straddling the France-Switzerland border. Many reports suggested that Hicheur had either planned an attack on the installation or had sought to pass information or material to AQIM so that jihadis could construct a nuclear weapon. Neither was true: CERN says it has nothing on its property that could be used to build a nuclear bomb, and Hicheur's limited security access didn't allow him close enough to the main collider to launch an attack on it.

                "The fact that he was employed by CERN is not particularly significant compared to the more general fact he's an extremely well-educated scientist whose knowledge would have been useful to anyone planning terror strikes," a French counterterrorism official told TIME on condition of anonymity. "We've had several cases of highly educated, disciplined and focused people turning up in terror cases where you'd least expect them, but this is by far the boldest example of someone with so much training and talent reaching out to extremists and saying, 'Use me.' "

                There is conflicting information on just how far Hicheur's plans had progressed. The London Daily Mail reported on Tuesday that Hicheur had targeted an oil refinery owned by the French company Total and wanted to create an explosion capable of destroying a "city the size of London," according to unidentified sources. The French official would not comment on the Daily Mail report but did say that Hicheur "had some written projects and drawings concerning certain targets in France." The official added, however, that Hicheur "had not gotten close to defining a plot."

                The official said that Hicheur's name first arose in earlier Franco-Belgian investigations into a network that is suspected of finding recruits in the two countries and sending them to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area to undergo training to eventually launch attacks in Europe. Among the group's members was Malika el Aroud, the widow of an al-Qaeda suicide bomber who killed the anti-Taliban militia leader Ahmed Shah Massoud in northern Afghanistan two days before the September 11 attacks. El Aroud, a Belgian national, wrote a radical blog and participated in online forums urging Muslims to join the jihad against the West. The network was broken up last December when Belgian police rounded up 14 suspected members ahead of what authorities feared was a planned suicide bombing of a Brussels meeting of European Union leaders. Then, in May, two French extremists from the group were arrested entering Italy with five Palestinian and Syrian aliens whom French authorities said were to be used as suicide bombers in European strikes.

                It's unclear exactly when Hicheur began communicating with El Aroud's group or whether he was interested in going to Afghanistan or just looking for other terrorist-group contacts. Either way, the busts in December and May left El Aroud's group weakened, apparently causing Hicheur to seek out other extremists in online forums. "[Hicheur] eventually found AQIM people ready to discuss and encourage his jihadist ambition," the French official said. "These forums allow extremists from different countries to strike up partnerships and even plan together ... But that gives police and intelligence services very useful places to keep under close watch."

                With the Taliban now resurgent in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, El Aroud's group has managed to remain active despite the raids that have sapped its membership. Hicheur's ability to move from that group directly into AQIM circles, meanwhile, is a reminder of how many places the terrorism threat now resides in Europe. Hicheur's case also marks the first instance of AQIM using a French recruit as an active terrorist operative in Europe, rather than solely for logistical assistance as the group has in the past. All the more reason for Europe's counterterrorism authorities to continue their online vigil — and check out even the seemingly least-likely candidates for jihadist activity.


                • #38
                  Laura Stampler:

                  October 19, 2009 -- A physicist with ties to Stanford was arrested in Vienne, France on October 8 after police intercepted encoded e-mails allegedly sent to a terrorist organization in Algeria. Judge Christophe Teissier ordered the French internal security service, DCRI, to investigate Algerian national Dr. Adlene Hicheur, 32, for “association with criminals in relation with a terrorist enterprise.” The organization in question is “al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,” affiliated with al-Qaeda International.

                  Hicheur came to Stanford for six months in the summer of 2002, the last time he is believed to have visited campus, to do research for his Ph.D. at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. At the time, Hicheur was as an employee of Laboratoire d’Annecy-le-Vieux des Particules (LAPP) at the University of Savoie in France. SLAC has moved to counter the level of association between Hicheur and Stanford in the reports of many media organizations, saying these reports often “got it wrong.” “Hicheur was never employed by SLAC, nor by Stanford, nor was he a student at Stanford, nor did he receive his Ph.D. from Stanford,” said Robert Brown, director of communications for SLAC, in an e-mail to The Stanford Daily. While at Stanford, Hicheur collaborated on the BaBar experiment, which studies the decay of particles known as “B” mesons in pursuit of understanding the dominance of matter over anti-matter (recently coined the “God particle” and at the crux of the plot of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons). Brown said that Hicheur’s work at SLAC in no way involves work applicable to terrorist actions. “Hicheur’s work at SLAC did not bring him into contact with tools, materials or information that could be used for terrorism, because SLAC research does not involve nuclear, biological or other technologies with military applications,” Brown said. “The lab conducts basic research, and all our results are peer-reviewed and published openly in the scientific community.” In keeping with this, no projects at SLAC require a security clearance, although visitors and employees from four “terrorist-sponsoring” countries — Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria — must be cleared by the Department of Energy, according to SLAC’s Web site.

                  According to employees who work on the BaBar experiment, Hicheur’s relationship with the program was a standard one. “The BaBar collaboration is an international collaboration of over 500 physicists from approximately 70 institutions in about a dozen countries,” said Physics Chair Patricia Burchat. “All collaborators are included as authors on all papers. Many collaborators spend only a fraction of their time at SLAC since all collaborators can access the electronic physics data from their home institution.” BaBar-related research is often published with a high number of co-authors. Burchat is one of many researchers who have co-published with Hicheur in that manner; however, even though their research and time at Stanford overlapped, the two never met or came into direct contact with one another. After his time at Stanford, Hicheur conducted research at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the United Kingdom (UK). Up until his arrest he also worked with the Large Hadron Collider, a project that causes high-speed proton collisions in the hopes of recreating the Big Bang. Through this work he was associated with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), a premier European particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. According to a statement made by CERN on October 12, the laboratory does not do research in fields of nuclear power or nuclear weaponry and does not possess materials that could be used for terrorist means.

                  Hicheur has acknowledged contacting the terrorist organization, but his family denies his connection to terrorists and believes he was just writing to family in Algeria, according to the UK’s Times. “Adlene is a good guy, he is brilliant, he is so shy, so far from violence but at the same time, he is of Algerian origin, educated, Muslim,” said Adlene Hicheur’s brother Halim Hicheur, a post-doctoral researcher of physiology and biomechanics at College de France, in an e-mail to The Stanford Daily. “And these last reasons have been unfortunately, in France, the sources of hundreds of [arrests] of innocent people.” French law allows for a person to be held under “provisional detention” for a indefinite period of time if suspected of terrorist actions. Halim Hicheur believes that the media has misrepresented his brother’s case and that his family intends to “prosecute the journals [that “sensationalist” reporters] are working for, from the beginning of this affair, in clear violation of the law.” “We personally experienced how many lies, sensational but completely false scenarios have been written about this story,” he added.


                  • #39

                    BERN, Switzerland, November 8, 2009 — Switzerland has opened its own investigation into the case of a nuclear physicist France suspected of al-Qaida links, an official said Sunday. The French suspect, who worked at the world's largest atom smasher on the Swiss-French border and at a Swiss technology institute, is unspecified in Switzerland's investigation, but it is the same case as the French one, Swiss Federal Prosecutor's Office spokeswoman Walburga Bur said. She said the investigation was opened at the end of October and is directed at an unknown person or persons on suspicion of supporting a criminal organization. In line with French and Swiss judicial policy, authorities have not identified him. Bur, who confirmed a report in the weekly NZZ am Sonntag, refused to say more about the case.

                    The 32-year-old Frenchman of Algerian origin had been working on the Large Hadron Collider and teaching at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. He was arrested at his home in Vienne, France, on October 8. Lab officials say he hasn't been at work for most of the year. The French suspect the scientist of involvement with Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, a North African group that targets Algerian government forces and sometimes attacks foreigners. French investigating magistrate Christophe Teissier has filed preliminary charges against him for criminal association with a terrorist enterprise. The broad charge is often used in terror-related cases in France. French judicial officials have said the suspect has acknowledged that he corresponded online with the group and vaguely discussed plans for terror attacks. Under French law, preliminary charges mean the investigating judge has determined there is strong evidence to suggest involvement in a crime. It gives the investigator time to pursue the inquiry before deciding whether to send the suspect to trial or drop the case.

                    The particle physicist was one of more than 7,000 scientists working to prepare for operation of the new collider this winter. The massive machine, in a 27-kilometer (17-mile) circular tunnel under the border, aims to discover more about the makeup of matter and to explore phenomena such as antimatter and the Big Bang theory on the origin of the universe. James Gillies, spokesman for the host European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, has said there was nothing at the collider of interest to terrorists. Officials say the facility has areas with extremely cold helium to supercool the electrical circuits, high magnetic fields and beams of protons and other subatomic particles, but none of its research has the potential for military application and all its results are published in the public domain. Jerome Grosse, a spokesman for the Lausanne institute, said the suspect had not been seen at work there for most of the year, but that he had been in touch by e-mail. Gillies said he also hadn't been seen at CERN for months.


                    • #40

                      Mardi 10 Novembre 2009 -- L’ancien juge français Jean-Louis Bruguière qui s’est investi vint cinq ans durant dans la lutte antiterroriste, a assuré que des cellules terroristes affiliées à Al Qaida étaient toujours présentes en France, et disposeraient toujours de base en Algérie et dans les pays du sahel. Mr Bruguière a déclaré dans un entretien, publié avant-hier par le journal Nice-Matin, que « la menace terroriste était toujours élevée, mais que comme pour la grippe A, il y avait un problème de perception. Il est difficile de mobiliser l'opinion publique sur quelque chose qui apparaît comme, disons, virtuel » Le juge a, par ailleurs, révélé qu’à la suite de tous les dossiers qu’il avait eus à traiter, il était arrivé à la conclusion que les groupes islamistes « djihadistes » avaient tissé des liens avec d’anciens officiers d’Europe de l’Est, après l’effondrement du bloc soviétique, citant l’Allemagne, la Pologne et la Bulgarie, connus pour le trafic d’armes. Il a également déclaré que les états unis avaient leur part de responsabilités dans les attentats qui les ont touchés, en raison de ce qu’il a appelé leur « sourde oreille » faisant référence à la baisse de vigilance dans les efforts sécuritaire occidentaux portant lutte antiterroriste, durant la dernière décennie. Mr Bruguière a, enfin, réaffirmé sa conviction que le chef d’Al Qaida, Oussama ben Laden était toujours en vie et qu’il se cachait dans quelque zones tribales du Waziristan (région du Pakistan), bénéficiant du soutien probable de certains membres des services de renseignements pakistanais. Considérant, par ailleurs, la prochaine coupe du monde, prévue en Afrique du Sud, comme étant une cible potentielle pour les terroristes, du fait de sa très large couverture médiatique.


                      • #41

                        Mercredi 11 Novembre 2009 -- La justice suisse a ouvert une enquête contre X pour déterminer les tenants et aboutissants d’une affaire relative au soutien d’une organisation terroriste, dans laquelle est impliqué un architecte français d’origine algérienne, arrêté le mois dernier par les services de renseignements français, qui le soupçonnaient de planifier des attentats terroristes en France. Le porte parole du parquet suisse a déclaré, hier, qu’une enquête judiciaire avait été ouverte par la police judiciaire pour confirmer des informations concernant l’architecte Adlane Hichour. L’agence de presse française a rapporté les dires de cette source, indiquant que la justice ne pouvait pas donner plus détails sur cette affaire, pour ne pas risquer de compromettre le bon déroulement de l’enquête. Le porte parole a, par ailleurs, révélé que l’enquête qui avait été ouverte en octobre dernier était dirigée contre X, indiquant qu’il conserverait les preuves et qu’il découvrirait l’identité des personnes impliquées. Le dénommé Adlane Hichour, 32 ans, architecte au centre européen de recherche nucléaire a été arrêté dans l’est de la France, ainsi que son frère, soupçonnées tous deux d’être affilier à l’organisation terroriste Al-Qaïda au Maghreb. Si cette accusation s’avère vraie, celui-ci risque une peine d’au moins cinq ans de prison, et ce conformément au code pénal suisse. Le centre suisse de recherche nucléaire a indiqué, immédiatement après l’’arrestation de ce dernier, qu’il travaillait sur des projets d’analyse de données physiques depuis 2003. Assurant que le chercheur n’avait eu accès à aucun élément matériel pouvant être utilisé dans un attentat terroriste.


                        • #42

                          PARIS, November 17, 2009 — A French nuclear physicist discussed possible terrorist attacks targeting France's army in e-mail exchanges with North Africa's al-Qaida branch before his arrest last month, the Paris prosecutor's office said Tuesday. Adlene Hicheur, a 32-year-old Frenchman of Algerian origin, had worked on the Large Hadron Collider — the world's largest atom smasher — as well as at a technology institute in neighboring Switzerland before he was taken into custody at his home in Vienne, France, on October 8. His alleged e-email conversations discussed no concrete plans for an operation but cited examples of possible targets, the prosecutor's office said. Confirming a report that appeared in the regional newspaper Le Dauphine Libere, the prosecutor's office said one potential target was a French army brigade specialized in mountain combat, which is based near where Hicheur lived. The 27th Mountain Infantry Brigade currently has about 1,000 troops in Afghanistan. The possibility of striking French businesses was also raised, the prosecutor's office said. French judicial officials have said the physicist acknowledged to investigators that he corresponded over the Internet with a contact in North Africa's al-Qaida branch, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. The group regularly targets government and security forces in Algeria, and occasionally attacks foreigners. U.S. monitors picked up the Internet exchange between the scientist and his contact in the militant group, leading to his arrest, officials have said. At work, the physicist had no contact with anything that could be used for terrorism, the European Organization for Nuclear Research has said. Investigating magistrate Christophe Teissier filed preliminary charges against the suspect last month for "criminal association with a terrorist enterprise," a broad charge that is often used in terror-related cases in France. Switzerland has opened its own investigation into the case.


                          • #43

                            WASHINGTON, November 17, 2009 (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's North African wing is less likely now to carry out attacks in Europe, mainly because of pressure on the group from Algerian security forces, a U.S. counter-terrorism official said on Tuesday. But the militants have stepped up operations in the vast African region known as the Sahel, on the southern edge and directly south of the Sahara desert, said Daniel Benjamin, the coordinator for counter-terrorism at the State Department. Some of Washington's closest counter-terrorism partners in Europe have worried that militants operating under the Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) banner could establish themselves in Europe and carry out attacks there, Benjamin said. "We currently view the near-term possibility of such an expansion of operations as less likely than it was just a few years ago," Benjamin told a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee. "This, in large measure, is because of the pressure on the group in Algeria." Security forces in Algeria, an oil and gas producer, have been relatively successful in containing and marginalizing AQIM in the northeastern part of the country by breaking up extremist cells and disrupting operations, Benjamin said.

                            Farther south, in areas of Mauritania, Mali and Niger, the Islamist militant group has increased attacks in recent years, including against Westerners, Benjamin told senators. This year the group killed a British hostage who had been kidnapped on the border between Mali and Niger, a violent shift from their previous tactics of taking hostages and demanding ransoms. While the militants were a persistent threat to Westerners, they could not seriously threaten governments or regional stability, and were not poised to gain significant support among the region's population, Benjamin said. Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson told the senators the United States should keep playing a supportive rather than a leading role in counterterrorism in the region. "We should not seek to take this issue over. It is not ours and doing so might have negative consequences for U.S. interests in the long term," Carson said. He said U.S. help was funneled largely through a program called the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership. It allocates up to $150 million a year to counterterrorism efforts in 10 countries, in areas such as communications, intelligence sharing, and provision of trucks and logistical supplies.


                            • #44

                              Samedi 31 Juillet 2010 -- L’ancien juge anti-terroriste français considère dans cette interview accordée à El Khabar que les groupes terroristes ont déclaré la guerre sainte à la France qui se doit de faire à leurs menaces par les moyens juridiques, de renseignement et militaires.

                              Comment évaluer vous l’offensive militaire conduite par la Mauritanie soutenue par la France sur les frontières du Mali ? Réussite, échec ou semi échec du moment qu’elle s’est soldée par l’élimination de six éléments d’El Qaeda, mais n’a pas atteint son objectif à savoir la libération de l’otage.

                              Cette intervention de la France aux côtés des forces mauritaniennes s’inscrit dans le cadre d’une opération conjointe réclamée par Nouakchott pour contrer une opération de grande envergure que l’AQMI s’apprêtait à lancer en Mauritanie partir du Mali. La France a toujours été aux avants poste de la lutte contre le terrorisme, dans les années 80 contre les organisations palestiniennes qui avaient ciblé nos intérêts au Liban et perpétré des attentats en France ainsi que contre l’organisation « Action Directe » alors liée aux Brigades Rouges italiennes et à Fraction Armée Rouge Allemande. Après la chute du communisme notre pays a été confronté à l’activisme des réseaux islamistes, notamment le GIA algérien. Nous n’avons cessé depuis 1993 de lutter contre le GIA,le GSPC et aujourd’hui l’AQMI. Nous avons toujours été au côté du peuple algérien et de ses dirigeants dans cette lutte dont l’Algérie a payé un si lourd tribu. La zone sahélo-saharienne est stratégiquement importante pour la France. Nous nous devons – plus peut être que d’autre – de soutenir l’action des gouvernements de la région dans leur lutte contre l’AQMI qui menace la stabilité de cette zone et notre pays également. L’intervention de la France s’inscrivait dans cette logique, celle du soutien à une opération militaire décidée par la Mauritanie. Ce n’est pas un échec. Si notre otage avait été sur les lieux, il aurait pu être libéré. Ces groupes sont très mobiles et il est difficile d’avoir une information fiable à une date précise. Si les autorités françaises ont fait part de leur inquiétude sur les sort de Michel Germaneau, c’est parce qu’elles disposaient d’informations alarmistes sur la position radicale du groupe qui le détenait, laissant peu de marge à tentative de dialogue, y compris sur un plan strictement humanitaire.

                              Vous connus entant que magistrat qui a combattu les groupes terroristes en particulier, le GSPC qui s’est transformé en AQMI. Pour quoi la France est-elle la cible principale de ce groupe ?

                              La France est la cible du GIA, du GSPC et aujourd’hui de l’AQMI depuis 1993 . Plusieurs de nos ressortissants ont été assassinés en Algérie par ce groupe salafiste radical prônant la même idéologie et la même stratégie qu’Al Qaida. C’est le GIA de Zitouni qui a détourné l’Airbus d’Air France assurant la liaison Alger-Paris en décembre 1994 et qui est responsable de la campagne d’attentats en France à l’été et l’automne1995. J’ai été encharge de presque tous les dossiers concernant cette mouvance et nous avons arrêté et fait condamné un très grand nombre d’activistes. Avant de quitter mes fonctions en 2007, j’ai instruit le volet Rachid Ramda que les britanniques ont consenti à extrader après les attentats de Londres. Ila été condamné à la réclusion criminelle à perpétuité. Nous avons toujours soutenu les autorité algériennes dans leur lutte contre le terrorisme et j’ai personnellement eu de très bonnes relations avec les services de sécurité algérien, comme nos propres services. Notre dispositif judiciaire qui a fonctionné en étroite relation avec nos services, en particulier la DST, nous a permis de déjouer de nombreuses tentatives d’attentats sur notre sol, en particulier au cours des dernières années. Les personnes interpellées étaient liées à l’AQMI. Les services de sécurité et l’armée algérienne continuent avec efficacité à lutter contre les cellules de l’AQMI opérant en Algérie, poussant nombre de leurs activistes à fuir dans la zone Sahélo saharienne où elles se sont regroupés dans deux katibas. C’est l’une d’entre elles qui est responsable de l’enlèvement et de l’assassinat de Michel Germaneau. Ces groupes qui n’ont d’autres stratégie que de semer la terreur au nom du Jihad armé doivent être résolument combattu. Les éliminer est la seule option, car ils sont résolument inaccessibles au dialogue. L’AQMI,né del’allégeance du GSPC à Al Qaida, a pour objectif de déstabiliser le Maghreb et les pays du Sahel. Il est impératif que les pays concernés s’unissent pour renforcer leur capacité de lutte contre ces réseaux. L’initiative de Tamanrasset a précisément pour objectif de mieux coordonner l’action des pays de la région. La coopération internationale est cruciale dans ce domaine. La France est plus que jamais mobilisée dans la lutte contre le terrorisme, en particulier contre les réseaux de l’AQMI.

                              Le président Sarkozy a déclaré que « l’assassinat de Germaneau ne resterait pas impunie ». Pouvez nous faire un commentaire sur cette déclaration ? Est-ce à votre avis une guerre ouverte entre la France et les groupes terroristes ?

                              Le Président Sarkozy n’a fait que rappeler la position de la France face à la menace terroriste. Il ‘y a pas d’oubli pour ceux qui sèment la terreur en assassinant des innocents. Les autorités françaises n’ont jamais fermé les dossiers sur les crimes terroristes. Le crime commis contre Michel Germaneau ne restera pas impuni. C’est le message du Président français. Et la France sera aux côtés des pays qui luttent contre les katibas de l’AQMI, y compris par une coopération militaire, si elle est sollicitée.

                              On pense que l’engagement de la France dans une guerre contre El Qaeda au Maghreb Islamique dans un pays étranger, comme c’était le cas en Mauritanie, pourrait l’exposer à des attaques sur son territoire et contre ses intérêts à l’étranger, qu’en pensez vous ?

                              L’AQMI a déclaré la guerre sainte (le Jihad) contre la France comme ses prédécesseurs. La France se doit de combattre ces réseaux par tous le moyens mis à sa disposition (judiciaire, renseignement, militaire), y compris à l’étranger, dans le cadre des accords de coopération. Je considère que ces réseaux doivent être éradiqués. Ils sont déjà beaucoup moins actifs en Algérie,grâce aux opérations militaires conduites par l’ANP et les services de sécurité algériens. Je ne pense pas que l’action de la France dans le Sahel augmente sensiblement le niveau de la menace qui est déjà très élevée. Les autorités françaises en sont conscientes et mobilisées.

                              Pensez vous que l’échec de la tentative de libérer l’otage ensuite son assassinat auront une incidence sur l’avenir politique de Sarkozy qui préparent des échéances électorales déterminantes ?

                              L’intervention de la France au Sahel et l’assassinat odieux de notre ressortissant n’aura aucune incidence sur les échéances électorales de 2012. Il existe en France un consensus sur la nécessaire lutte contre le terrorisme. Les français sont solidaires dans l’épreuve et soutiennent leurs dirigeants.


                              • #45

                                Lundi 20 Septembre 2010 -- Les inquiétudes sur un risque d'attentat en France sont fondées sur un renseignement en provenance d'Algérie, a-t-on appris lundi de source proche du ministère de l'Intérieur français. L'inquiétude se fonde "sur la base d'un renseignement venu d'un pays ami avec lequel la France travaille très régulièrement", selon lequel Al Qaïda au Maghreb islamique (Aqmi) "ferait peser une menace imminente d'attentat sur le territoire national", avait auparavant indiqué cette même source. Les autorités françaises se sont à nouveau alarmées lundi d'un risque d'attentat, faisant état d'une menace accrue depuis jeudi, après plusieurs mises en garde formulées depuis une semaine par des responsables français. "La menace est réelle, notre vigilance est renforcée", a déclaré lundi le ministre de l'Intérieur Brice Hortefeux, en rappelant que le plan Vigipirate restait activé au niveau rouge, dernier cran avant le niveau écarlate, déclenché en cas de risque d'attentat imminent.


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