French arrest man suspected of financing al Qaeda
PARIS – French authorities have arrested the administrator of an extremist French website who is suspected of playing a key role in financing and recruiting for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups from Pakistan to Spain, the Paris prosecutor’s office said yesterday.
The man – whom prosecutors call an “operational vector and formidable financier of the bloodiest terrorist groups” – was being questioned yesterday. He faces preliminary charges of planning terrorist acts and financing a terrorist enterprise, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
The man, a Tunisian born in 1977 based in the southern French city of Toulon, was arrested on Friday after a yearlong investigation, the prosecutor’s statement said. It did not give the man’s name.
The prosecutor cited “serious and concordant evidence” that the suspect sent material from his computer to terrorist groups. It says he played a “centralising role” in collecting funds for terrorist groups to buy weapons, but did not elaborate on how much money was involved.
Prosecutors say he is suspected of acting as a financier and recruiter for groups including al Qaeda and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (North Africa), Fatah al Islam, and the Islamic State of Iraq.
Investigators studied thousands of email messages and analysed a “considerable mass” of data, prosecutors said.
They called it an exceptionally advanced example of “the use of the Internet for terrorist ends in the domain of radical Islam.”