By Peter Allen
Last updated at 5:57 PM on 3rd January 2011
- Cross-Channel links between Islamic radicals emerge during trial of eight men
British terrorists were regularly recruited and offered safe houses by French gangsters allegedly involved in the financing of Al Qaeda, a court heard today.
The sinister links between Islamic radicals on both sides of the Channel came to light at the trial of eight men at the Paris Assizes.
All are accused of carrying out post office raids and other robberies in order to raise funds to carry out terrorist atrocities across Europe.
Suspect operation: Clichy sous Bois, the suburb of Paris where one of the alleged terrorists ran his business, was frequented by terrorists from all over Europe
Among them is Farid Boukemiche, a 34-year-old French Algerian who spent three years in a British prison on terrorist charges before trying to claim political asylum in the UK.
When this failed Boukemiche moved back to France where, in 2003, he opened a cafe in Roubaix, near Lille.
This ‘housed many brothers, particularly British ones’, according to prosecution documents in the current Paris trial.
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A prosecution source said : ‘Boukemiche learned such good English in prison in London that he no longer needed an interpreter when he got out.
He built up numerous contacts among Al Qaeda networks in Britain and offered then a safe house close to his cafe in France.’
The terrorist case against Boukemiche was dropped in Britain following a £3million trial so as to protect the life of an undercover secret service agent in Algeria.
Clichy-sous-bois in Paris. British terrorists were regularly recruited and offered safe houses by French gangsters allegedly involved in the financing of Al-Qaeda, a court heard
As a result Boukemiche and two other men were cleared of possessing articles for terrorist purposes but he admitted having false financial documents, passports and identity cards and was given a year-long sentence.
He was free to go in 2000 after spending three years on remand.
Also on trial in Paris is Ouassini Cherifi, a 36-year-old French-Algerian who in 2002 was sentenced to five years in prison for trafficking fake passports linked to terrorist activity.
Since his release he has spent a ‘great deal of time in Britain recruiting Jihad fighters to travel to Iraq and Afghanistan,’ according to the same prosecution source.
Cherifi runs a restaurant in Clichy-sous-Bois, a Paris suburb, where terrorists from all over Europe including the UK were said to meet regularly.
During a the police operation which led to the eight suspects being arrested last month police discovered an arsenal of weapons at Clichy including TNT explosives, Kalashnikov assault rifles, revolvers, and body armour.
Large amounts of ‘liquid’ cash were also found, including £7,000 worth of used notes in the possession of one of the suspect’s wives.
The eight men admit being involved in a number of robberies in the Paris area, but deny using the proceeds to finance terrorism.
Also among those being tried are Feridhi Mourad, a 39-year-old Tunisian already convicted three times for offences including armed robbery.
Terrorist judges Jean-Louis Bruguiere and Jean-Francois Ricard fear many of the suspects met up while serving time in prison.
All of the men were arrested during synchronised police raids on December 12 following surveillance operations ordered by the judges.
The Paris trial continues until January 28th.