Suicide bombing plot against the US Embassy in Paris — planned by a group of friends. From AP, with thanks to Twostellas and RB:
PARIS (AP) The plot was bold and horrific: send a suicide bomber strapped with explosives into the U.S. Embassy in Paris.
The six-week trial that culminates Tuesday with the verdict opened a window onto Europe’s complex networks of Muslim militants. It also showed how friendship or family ties can be a driving force that binds them together, just like faith or ideology.
In the last moments of his trial, Djamel Beghal, the suspected ringleader, was contrite.
“I’m sorry” were his final words. But Beghal wasn’t admitting guilt. He was apologizing to his five co-defendants — all friends who he said were “here because of me.”
Beghal’s friends and acquaintances allegedly involved in the U.S. Embassy plot spanned five European countries, with some already convicted in related cases in Belgium and the Netherlands. In court here, the six defendants appeared to be a tightly knit group.
Friendships are the “first step in the process” of becoming a militant, playing a significant social role for people on the margins of society, said Michael Taarnby, a Danish researcher who has studied the recruitment of Islamic radicals in Europe….
Presiding Judge Philippe Vandingenen closely questioned Beghal about his visits to London-based Abu Qatada, a radical Muslim cleric described by British officials as Osama bin Laden’s “spiritual ambassador in Europe,” as well as Beghal’s stays in Afghanistan.
“This affair is revelatory of a Europeanization of terror groups,” Prosecutor Christophe Teissier said in his six-hour closing arguments….
Camaraderie and family ties have turned up in other terror cases, too.
A group of young men funneling would-be Islamic warriors to Iraq from an eastern Paris neighborhood grew up together. The ring, dismantled in January, was allegedly headed by a 23-year-old whose stature ballooned after his big brother, an Islamic activist, was deported to Algeria.
In one of the most serious terrorism plots uncovered in France, an alleged chemical attack on Russian interests in France, four of the suspects are related, others are friends….
“Where’s the problem?” said Lefkir when asked about services he rendered to suspect friends. “We Muslims are like that.”