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Sentences increased for Islamists who plotted attacks on Eiffel Tower and Department stores - group had Chechen connections

May 27, 2007

Paris court increases sentences of 9 of 12 Muslim terrorists Tuesday, May 22, 2007 at 17:31 DPA

Paris (dpa) - A Paris court of appeals on Tuesday sentenced 12 Muslim radicals to between 3 months and 10 years in jail for planned terrorist attacks on the Eiffel Tower and Paris department stores.

While acquitting one of the total 13 accused, the appeals court stiffened the sentences in nine of the cases from the original June 2006 court decision that saw the trial of 25 suspected Muslim extremists. Known as the "Chechen Connection" owing to their involvement in fighting in the Chechen War against Russia, the 12 were also found guilty to planning attacks on police stations and Israeli facilities. Some of the convicts had belonged to the militant Algerian Islamist Group GIA or in other circles connected with the international terrorist network al-Qaeda. The leader of the "Chechen" group, Algerian Said Arif (41), who is believed to have frequently visited al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, saw his nine-year sentence increased to 10 years, of which two thirds will be under heightened security. The sentence of the group's 32-year-old financier, Nourredine Merabet, remained at 9 years, under which two-thirds will be under heightened security.

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