An engineer on a prestigious and high-profile project: another strike against the “poverty causes terrorism” claim. Which excuse will this guy trot out in court? More on this story. “Man held in France over ‘Qaeda links’ released: official,” from Agence France-Presse, October 10 (thanks to all who sent this in):
The younger of two brothers arrested in France on suspicion of links to the Al-Qaeda militant network was released on Saturday without charge, a judicial official said.
The detention of the elder brother, a 32-year-old engineer at the CERN nuclear research lab, was extended, the source said.
He may be handed over by Monday to authorities in Paris who deal with anti-terrorist matters.
The younger brother, aged 25, was released late Saturday after being held for more than 48 hours. No charges were brought against him, the source said.
The elder brother, who worked at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research on the Franco-Swiss border just outside Geneva, had been planning to commit at least one attack, according to sources close to the case.
CERN has said the man arrested had been working with the high-profile Large Hadron Collider experiment, which aimed to investigate how the Universe formed after the “Big Bang”.
Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said Friday that investigators were trying to establish which targets in “France or elsewhere” the suspect was hoping to strike.
The pair was arrested in Vienne on Thursday, a town on the Rhone river some 100 kilometres (65 miles) southwest of the Alpine lab, by officers from France’s security service acting on a warrant from an anti-terrorist magistrate.
According to officials, the engineer had made contact over the Internet with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a North African offshoot of Osama bin Laden’s loosely organised global Islamist militant movement.
He had expressed a desire to carry out attacks, but had “not got to the stage of carrying out material acts of preparation”, one said.
The two brothers, both French nationals, were transferred early Friday to the Hauts-de-Seine area, just outside Paris.
According to a report on the newspaper Le Figaro’s website, the elder brother is a Frenchman of Algerian origin who had been the subject of a police inquiry for a year-and-a-half.
Judicial sources told AFP that investigators had come upon the pair while monitoring the Internet as part of a separate inquiry into the recruitment of would-be jihadists to send to Afghanistan as guerrillas.
CERN confirmed on Friday that a physicist working at the site had been arrested over alleged terrorist links but added that “his work did not bring him into contact with anything that could be used for terrorism”.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was born in 2007 when a largely Algerian militant group, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, swore allegiance to Bin Laden and rebranded itself as his organisation’s local franchise.
Intelligence officials consider it one of the most serious threats to France, which has a large North African population.