Australia deports Frenchman on terror charge

Australian police are trying to piece together the movements of a Frenchman who has been deported, amid fears he could have links to “a terrorist cell”.

    Brigitte received "militant training" in Paris suburbs

    After raids in Sydney on Sunday, police said they were trying to establish what Willie Virgile Brigitte was doing for five months in Australia before his arrest on 9 October and deportation on 17 October.
     
    Justice Minister Chris Ellison said warrants had been used against people connected to Brigitte and investigations were continuing.

    "I will not discuss the result of actions taken under the warrants but I can say they were directed against a number of people who it was believed could have material relating to Mr Brigitte's presence in Australia," said Ellison.

    Charges

    Attorney General Philip Ruddock said on Sunday that 35-year-old Brigitte had been deported to France, where he is being held on terrorism-related charges.

    French authorities warned on September 22 that Brigitte may have gone to Australia in May for terror-related reasons, Ruddock said.

    According to France he had participated in some form of military training in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    The chief of police in New South Wales state said six people had been interviewed and a number of houses in southwestern Sydney raided.
     

    Police admit Brigitte's work did not appear related to his "alleged activities"

    Police commissioner Ken Moroney said to commercial radio, police had raided a number of premises related to the investigation and seized "useful items of property."

    Although Brigitte had been working illegally, Moroney added his work did not appear directly related to his "alleged activities".

    Criticism

    France's apparently slow speed in reporting its concerns about Brigitte came in for criticism, with the opposition Labour party saying intelligence ties between the two countries were not good enough.
     
    "I think what this highlights is that we haven't got as strong as a connection we should have with the French," said opposition leader Simon Crean.

    Ruddock said he had asked for an investigation into why Brigitte was not detected earlier, but had not lost faith in Australia's “terrorist screening” mechanisms for its four million visitors a year.

    Authorities kept a database of more than 100,000 people to watch for

    The attorney-general added that authorities kept a database of more than 100,000 people to watch for, and coordinated with overseas agencies to keep it up to date.

    French officials have said Brigitte was placed under investigation last week for "belonging to a criminal association, in relation to a terrorist undertaking" after being questioned for four days by officers from the counterespionage agency, the DST.

    It is understood he is being detained in custody in France.

    The officials claim Brigitte’s initial contact with what they termed “radicals” was in the Paris suburbs. He was then believed to have gone to Yemen and to Pakistan, where he allegedly spent several months in a training camp.

    According to the Europe 1 radio station, Brigitte had been ordered to go to Australia to shelter another man who was an expert in explosives.

    SOURCE: AFP


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