Saturday, April 22, 2006

While Europe sleeps...

so do we. Or had you heard?

MONTPELLIER, France — The cellphone's trail led from bloodstained Fallouja to the engineering school here, a modern campus where researchers in white coats stroll past labs and the breeze rustles through trees in courtyards dotted with pine cones.

Two years ago French investigators, aided by U.S. intelligence, detected calls from Iraq to a central figure in a suspected extremist cell in Montpellier. French intelligence officials say the calls came from a militant leader in Fallouja involved in the grisly killing of four American military contractors by a mob on March 31, 2004, an incident that became an icon of the savage conflict in Iraq.

The suspected cell included a group of Moroccan students accused of studying electronics, computer technology and telecommunications in the service of a North African terrorist group allied with Abu Musab Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. The group is sending fighters to Iraq, developing alliances across North Africa and plotting attacks in Europe, investigators say.

Officials say the case of the students, several of whom are under arrest, also illustrates a wider effort by terrorist networks to use universities and the Internet to replace former training camps in Afghanistan.

Update: And a little closer to home...

2 Comments:

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