France convicts Iraq war recruiters

Seven men found guilty of influencing Parisian youth to become fighters in Iraq war.

    The men were convicted of going to Iraq to fight or of recruiting Parisians to fight there [GALLY/GETTY]
    The tribunal correctionnel de Paris found Benyettou guilty of sending youths "to fight in Iraq, possibly by carrying out suicide attacks, after joining the troops of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi".
    Al-Zarqawi was Al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq before being killed in a US air strike in 2006.
    Benyettou admitted in court he may have influenced local youths by defending suicide attacks committed in the name of Islam, but said they were already determined to join the war.
    But he said he had "a right to have convictions" even "extremist" ones.
    Syrian schools
    Hakim, whose brother was killed in Fallujah and who himself fought in Iraq, was found guilty of inciting fellow Parisians to go there, through videos shot in the country, and by facilitating their trip.
    A third defendant, Said Abdellah, a Moroccan national, was given a seven year sentence for his connections with a string of recruitment networks, including the Paris operation.
    Nacer Eddine Mettai, a 37-year-old Algerian already serving out a separate six-year jail sentence, was given four years for supplying potential fighters with fake identity documents.
    All four have been in custody since the start of the investigation. Both Mettai and Abdellah were definitively banned from French territory once they leave jail.
    Mohammed El Ayouni, a French citizen who lost an eye and a forearm in Fallujah in November 2004, received an 18-month sentence, as did Thamer Bouchnak and Cherif Kouachi, who were arrested just before leaving for Syria.
    The court heard that after brief paramilitary training, the men were sent to schools in Syria that specialised in smuggling foreign fighters across the border to Iraq.
    El Ayouni, Bouchnak and Kouachi have already served out their sentences in pre-trial detention.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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