Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Court ruling expected on Gabon's contested election results

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Clinton's Comedy Turn

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Sarkozy's Populist Pivot, Bahamas Leaks, Syria Truce, Rome Olympic Bid (Part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

US Police Shootings: Race relations and the race to the White House (Part 1)

Read more

#TECH 24

Breaking the wall between technology and people

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Rural France: Challenges and opportunities

Read more

REPORTERS

Video: In Burma, ex-political prisoners struggle to return to normal life

Read more

ENCORE!

Xavier Dolan: Wunderkind of Québecquois cinema

Read more

FOCUS

The battle for UK Labour’s leadership

Read more

Europe

Suspected French al Qaeda members charged with attack plots

Video by Siobhán SILKE , Karim YAHIAOUI

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-05-12

Italian police have issued new arrest warrants for two French prisoners in Italy suspected of being members of al Qaeda. They are believed to have been preparing attacks in France and Britain, according to ANSA news agency.

Italian authorities on Tuesday charged two French nationals of being key figures in al Qaeda’s European operations, involved in militant communications and planning terrorist attacks.

 

 

The two men - Bassam Ayachi and Raphael Gendron - were arrested in the southern Italian city of Bari in November for links to trafficking in illegal immigrants.

 

 

Subsequent investigations revealed more serious plots to conduct attacks in Western Europe, according to Italian prosecutors.

 

 

Reporting from Rome, FRANCE 24’s Alexis Masciarelli said that following the November arrests, Italian police found incriminating documents stored on CDs and USB sticks linking the suspects to al Qaeda.

 

 

The documents included the will of a would-be suicide attacker, detailing the compensation to his family after his death, according to Italian police.

 

 

Al Qaeda’s Internet operations

 

 

Ayachi, a 63-year-old Syrian-born imam, and Gendron, an electronics engineer who converted to Islam, have since been served with arrest warrants for planning “organized terrorist attacks and guerrilla actions."

 

 

One of the targets included Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris, according to Italian prosecutors.

 

 

Prosecutors say Ayachi ran an Islamist center in Belgium, and Gendron is believed to be an IT communications expert.

 

 

Both men were known for their Islamist activities in Belgium, where they lived before moving to Italy.

 

 

In January, the European Court in Brussels found Ayachi’s son and Gendron guilty of inciting hatred and violence against Jews. The two men ran an Islamist site based in Belgium.

 

 

The Internet serves as a critical propaganda and recruitment tool for al Qaeda operations worldwide.

 

 

Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s number two, has frequently issued taped video and audio messages - including invitations to post online questions to top al Qaeda brass - that are posted on jihadist sites. Over the past two years, Zawahiri has repeatedly warned of attacks on French soil.

 

 

France, like Britain and Italy, has soldiers serving in the NATO-led military operations in Afghanistan.


Date created : 2009-05-12

COMMENT(S)