Skip to comments.Arrests keep young would-be French militants from Iraqi battlefields
Posted on 02/03/2005 9:46:31 AM PST by knighthawk
Thamer and Cherif, two recently arrested 22-year-old French Muslims, won't be going to Iraq to fight American troops or to die as martyrs. Their fast track to the rebel insurgency dried up days before they were to leave.
The two were arrested last week by counter-intelligence agents who dismantled their Iraq connection. The network had already funneled at least seven people to Iraq - including three French men who died there, investigators have said.
Thamer Bouchnak was arrested Jan. 24 at Paris' Orly airport on his return from a pilgrimage to Mecca. Cherif Kouachi was arrested in a roundup of 10 other people over two days last week. The arrests were part of an investigation of networks funneling combatants from France to Iraq. Eight people were freed.
Thamer and Cherif, both of North African origin, were to leave for Syria last week, their lawyers said day. The two were to be met by a 14-year-old, buy Kalashnikov rifles then head for Iraq, according to the lawyers, Dominique Many and Vincent Ollivier.
Instead, the young men were placed under investigation for ``criminal association in connection with a terrorist enterprise,'' along with a third man, Farid Benyettou, a 23-year-old who judicial officials claim acted as the recruiter.
Thamer and Cherif resemble war-ready Islamic extremists much less than they do their peers, their lawyers said.
``This is the story of a band of kids. Two or three act tough, each goes one better and you can't turn back,'' Ollivier said.
The accounts were the first detailed description of the men since their arrests, a profile that appeared to confirm piecemeal reports of young European volunteers little prepared for the role of combatant.
``My client was rather pleased to be arrested by police instead of seeing his project through,'' said Cherif's lawyer, Ollivier.
The prosecutor's office said Friday that Benyettou and at least one of the volunteers had ``evoked the possibility of actions in France'' but did not identify eventual targets. No explosives were found when the men were detained.
Thamer, who finished high school but was jobless, and Cherif, who abandoned his sports education to become a pizza delivery boy, became acquainted with Benyettou, the suspected recruiter, in the streets of eastern Paris, the young men's lawyers said.
Benyettou is described by judicial officials as a street preacher and a Salafist, holding to a strict interpretation of Islam. His brother-in-law, Youcef Zemmouri, a member of an Algerian insurgency movement, was among those arrested in a sweep ahead of the 1998 World Cup in France.
Abdelhalim Badjoudj, from the same eastern Paris network, allegedly blew himself up Oct. 20 while driving a car filled with explosives near a U.S. patrol on Baghdad's airport road. He was not quite 19.
Another French youth, Redouane el-Hakim, 19, reportedly was found July 17 after U.S. troops bombed a suspected insurgent hide-out in Fallujah. His older brother, Boubaker, is imprisoned in Syria, stopped in August while trying to cross into Iraq, officials say.
A third French insurgent, Tarek Ouinis, in his 20s, was reportedly killed Sept. 17 after several months in Iraq's Sunni Triangle.
Awww! Let 'em come France.
Killing a sheethead AND a Frenchman at the same time would be a plus to most American servicemen.
If I'm not mistaken, France is somewhat of a free country. My point is that if these kooks want to fight against democracy, then why do they live in France? Islam just doesn't make sense to me whatsoever.
They were arrested for violating the French national tradition of rolling over and surrendering.
AP and UPI reported that the French Government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "run" to "hide." The only two higher levels in France are "surrender" and "collaborate." The raise was precipitated by the recent fire which destroyed
France's white flag factory, effectively disabling their military.
I didn't think they sounded like real French.
This is good news, not a time to knock France. While I am disappointed as everyone else about our FORMER allies' decision to oppose our efforts in Iraq, they deserve a little credit here. At least, the French have not become state sponsors of terrorism.
They need to be shot on the spot.
I will, thanks! You too!
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