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Headline: Terror suspect tells of UK link

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 4 October 2001


Key members of a terrorist cell that was plotting attacks on US targets in Europe were recruited from British mosques, a French-Algerian suspect has told French investigators.

An apparently repentant Djamel Beghal, 35, reportedly confessed during interrogation in Dubai last month to being part of a plot to blow up the US Embassy in Paris.

He scouted mosques in London and Leicester, where he recruited several militants for the operation, said to be backed by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

Beghal's evidence is providing investigators with one of their strongest leads in their attempt to root out a coalition of extremists linked to bin Laden.

So far, suspects believed to be plotting attacks on targets in Europe - believed also to have included NATO's Brussels headquarters and the European Parliament in Strasbourg - have been arrested in Britain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain.

At least seven people have been arrested in regard to the Paris plot. Another French-Algerian, Kamel Daoudi, 27, was arrested in Leicester last week and extradited to France on Saturday. Two others have been handed to the Immigration Service after being held for the maximum seven days under Britain's Terrorism Act.

Another French-Algerian, Zacarias Moussaoui, who lived in south London and is thought to be linked to the hijackers who attacked New York and Washington, is being held in the US.

As the net closed on terror suspects worldwide:

∑ The US indicated it had information about possible attacks on "symbols of American capitalism" in Italy in the next month, the first official warning of a possible European attack since September 11. ∑ US officials told America's allies that some of those involved in the US attacks were also linked to the 1998 East African embassy bombings and the attack last year on the USS Cole. ∑ A report said the US hijackers, the night before their attacks, had transferred all their surplus cash to a contact in Dubai. ∑ Spanish police said they were investigating whether Mohamed Atta, who is believed to have piloted the first hijacked aircraft to strike the World Trade Centre, met other conspirators during visits to Spain last January and July.

The recruitment of young British Muslims for terror campaigns has become increasingly apparent in recent months. They have been linked to car bombings in Afghanistan and Kashmir and terror attacks in Yemen.

Earlier this year Russia complained that students at British universities, including the London School of Economics, were being recruited by Islamic groups to fight in Chechnya.

A number of the suspected terrorist cells being uncovered in the German port city of Hamburg, including Atta's, were also linked to a local mosque.

It was not clear how many Britons Beghal had implicated during his interrogation by French authorities. He is said to have confirmed that he travelled to Afghanistan, where he met a key bin Laden aide, Abu Zubaydah, at bin Laden's home six months ago.

But during 11 hours of questioning in Paris on Monday, Beghal withdrew many of his earlier statements about the plot.

His lawyer said: "He formally denies having received the mission of preparing terrorist acts in France against the US Embassy."

-- Andre Weltman (, October 03, 2001


<< ...suspects believed to be plotting attacks on targets in Europe - believed also to have included NATO's Brussels headquarters and the European Parliament in Strasbourg - have been arrested in Britain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain... >>

<< ...possible attacks on "symbols of American capitalism" in Italy... >>

In this context, itís worth recalling that the majority of those injured by the blasts at the two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 were in fact local Africans, not U.S. citizens.

One must wonder if there will be any upsurge in activity by the Algerian muslim fundamentalists against France, perhaps inspired by their colleagues who pulled off such a tactical success in the U.S. three weeks ago. I donít know if things are quieter or not in Algeria lately Ė maybe they will be inspired to try (a second time) to blow up an airliner over Paris, and/or slam into the Eiffel Tower?

-- Andre Weltman (, October 03, 2001.

Does anyone know which mosque Cat Stevens attends?

-- Steve McClendon (, October 03, 2001.

I guess this explains Tony Blair's super tough talk lately -- because so many of the conspirators are British Muslims.

-- RogerT (, October 03, 2001.

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