Paris: al-Qaeda Iraq recruiting network trial

Seven men went on trial Wednesday in Paris for their suspected roles in an al-Qaida-linked recruiting network for the Iraqi insurgency.

The men have been charged with "criminal conspiracy with a terrorist organization," a broad charge often used in terror-related cases in France, and they face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

Three of the seven are still in custody; the other four had been allowed free while the probe continued.

An investigation uncovered a network that recruited men in France and sent them to Iraq to fight with insurgents. Judicial officials say the network sent about 10 people to Iraq, three of whom died.

Authorities suspect the ringleader was Farid Benyettou, a 27-year-old described by officials as a Salafist, holding to a strict interpretation of Islam, who preached extremist views to youths in his neighborhood in the 19th district of northeast Paris.

Benyettou apparently gained credibility as a Muslim radical through his brother-in-law, Youcef Zemmouri, a convicted member of an Algerian insurgency movement who was arrested before the 1998 World Cup in France.

Farid Benyettou is among the seven on trial. He was arrested in 2005, along with two other people who were about to leave for Syria, a stop-off for combatants destined for Iraq.

French authorities fear that extremists from Europe could come back from Iraq with deadly skills that could be used to sow terror on the continent.

Source: IHT (English)

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