French men charged with planning terror attacks

May 12th, 2009 - 5:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Bari (Italy)/Paris, May 12 (DPA) Two French nationals have been charged by Italian police with leading an Al Qaeda terrorist cell and planning attacks in Paris and in Britain, the Italian news agency Ansa reported Tuesday.
The two men were arrested in the Italian city of Bari in November 2008 after arriving from Greece with illegal immigrants in their camper van. A police search then turned up incriminating documents in the camper van.

The men were identified as 63-year-old Bassam Ayachi, a Syrian native with French nationality, and 34-year-old Raphael Gendron. Ayachi had been active as a cleric in Belgium.

According to the online edition of the French daily Le Figaro, the two men possessed weapons and explosives and are also suspected of running a network that recruited suicide bombers for Iraq and Afghanistan.

In December, police in France and Belgium arrested a group of alleged accomplices of the two men.

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