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Archive for Sunday, October 7, 2001

Algerian thought to be second suicide bomber in Paris plot

October 7, 2001

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— An Algerian arrested in Spain 11 days ago may have been one of two suicide bombers who had planned to blow up the U.S. Embassy and another American target in Paris in March.

Spanish police found terrorism training and recruitment videotapes at the home of Mohamed Belaziz along with a diary characterized as a will, according to U.S. intelligence officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The diary indicated Belaziz expected to die "for God and country." The videotapes included graphically violent scenes of past terrorist operations.

Osama bin Laden's al Qaida organization apparently uses such tapes to "condition" recruits to the brutality that is expected of them, the intelligence officials said Saturday. "If you watch this kind of stuff often enough, you might begin to think it's normal behavior," one official said.

French investigators believe Nizar Trabelsi, a Tunisian arrested in Belgium two weeks before Belaziz's arrest, planned to blow himself up in the Paris plot. Belaziz is suspected of being a second human bomb in the same plan, according to El Pais, a major Spanish newspaper, citing unnamed Spanish police sources.

The two men are among 22 people arrested across Europe since Sept. 11 on suspicion of involvement in various plots to attack different targets. Authorities believe the detainees have links to bin Laden, but they have not established a firm link between the European plots and the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The most detailed plan revealed to date has been the one to bomb the U.S. Embassy and perhaps other targets in Paris, largely because of a confession made by Djamel Beghal, 35, one of the organizers. Beghal, a French Algerian, has since retracted the confession and said that it was coerced under torture.

Belaziz and Trabelsi planned to strap explosives to their bodies to attack the embassy in Paris, the Spanish police sources told the newspaper. The person who went to the embassy was going to pretend he was applying for a visa. A back-up plan called for using car bombs instead.

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