100 Europeans in Al Qaeda training camps: French daily

Monday, February 7, 2011

PARIS - Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terrorist network is stepping up its recruitment of European combatants with a view to striking more targets in Europe, a leading French newspaper reported Monday, quoting secret service documents.

Le Figaro quoted a confidential French secret service memo as saying over 100 Europeans were undergoing training in Al Qaeda camps along the Pakistani-Afghan border, compared with “a few isolated cases” three years ago.

Authorities in France were on high alert for possible plots against French targets, the newspaper reported.

The memo said the secret service had been alerted to the presence of 14 French people in the region in 2010.

Le Figaro also reported that the secret service had intercepted communications by a West-African offshoot of Al Qaeda, calling itself Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which accuses France and the US of trying to install a puppet regime in Tunisia.

Tunisia’s longtime leader Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who had counted most Western countries as allies, was ousted by a popular revolt last month.

A government of national unity has been set up to organise democratic elections.

A French secret service memo quoted AQIM as warning that America and France would not accept new leaders in Tunisia that did not serve their interests and warned the two countries were also pulling strings in neighbouring Algeria.

AQIM has stepped up its attacks on French nationals in West Africa over the past year, kidnapping at least eight and killing at least one.

In January, a recording attributed to bin Laden threatened attacks on “different fronts, inside and outside of France”.

The last major terrorist attacks in France date back to 1995, when Algeria’s Armed Islamic Group carried out a spate of bombings at tourist sites and public transport hubs in Paris.

Filed under: Terrorism

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