Wednesday 22 May 2019

UK failed to extradite terrorist linked to Paris killers

French intervention police take up position near the scene of a hostage taking at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris January 9, as it has emerged DNA found on a gun used in the kosher supermarket attack by Coulibaly, and in the shooting of a jogger two days earlier, belongs to none of the trio (REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal)
French intervention police take up position near the scene of a hostage taking at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris January 9, as it has emerged DNA found on a gun used in the kosher supermarket attack by Coulibaly, and in the shooting of a jogger two days earlier, belongs to none of the trio (REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal)
A still image form video shows an explosion lighting the front of a kosher supermarket as French police special forces launch their assault, where several people were taken hostage near the Porte de Vincennes in eastern Paris (REUTERS)
Bullet impacts are seen on the glass store front at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket, where four hostages were killed (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)

Robert Mendick

A convicted al-Qaeda terror fundraiser with links to the Paris attacks is residing in the UK and using the Human Rights Act to prevent his deportation to his native Algeria.

Baghdad Meziane, who was jailed for 11 years in 2003 for running a terror support network, has successfully staved off Home Office attempts to deport him - despite the Government's repeated insistence he constitutes "a danger to the community of the UK".

Meziane was a close associate of Djamel Beghal, a convicted terrorist - and the man who mentored two of the Paris attackers while they were in jail together. The pair lived close to each other in Leicester and Meziane, 49, once supplied Beghal with a false passport allowing him to travel to an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan.

The UK has attempted to remove Meziane, a father of two children born in England, for almost six years following his release from jail in 2009. However, it has has been thwarted by Meziane's claim that his deportation would breach his human rights to a family life and that he might face torture if sent home.

The disclosure that Meziane, a convicted terror fundraiser, has managed to stay in the UK sparked furious condemnation last night.

Meziane had close links to Beghal, who converted Amedy Coulibaly, the killer of four hostages in a kosher supermarket as well as a police woman, to radical Islamism while in jail. He also heavily influenced Cherif Kouachi, one of the two brothers who slaughtered Charlie Hebdo staff.

Beghal had initially been imprisoned in France over a plot to blow up the US embassy in Paris but was foiled after being arrested at Dubai airport in September 2001. Under questioning - he claims he was tortured - he confessed to the plot, leading to the arrest of Meziane and another Algerian in Leicester, Brahim Benmerzouga.

Both Meziane and Benmerzouga men were jailed in the UK for 11 years in 2003 for funding terrorism and possession of false passports. They were released into probation hostels and Benmerzouga was subsequently deported to Algeria a year later but Meziane has so far successfully fought off attempts to remove him. The case will have cost the British taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds in court costs to date. It is not clear if Meziane has received legal aid.

There is now a growing row over whether European security agencies have sufficient powers to tackle the terrorist threat. Europol estimates that as many as 5,000 people have travelled from Europe to Iraq and Syria and may have been radicalised.

The continent is on heightened alert following the attacks in Paris and an armed police raid in Belgium last week in which two terrorists were killed.

French police are investigating whether there may have been a "fourth shooter" involved in the attacks and may be one of 12 suspects in custody over the attacks.

The Kouachi brothers, along with Coulibaly, were killed in the 72-hour rampage, but DNA found on a gun used in the kosher supermarket attack by Coulibaly, and in the shooting of a jogger two days earlier, belongs to none of the trio.

The French government deployed 10,000 troops around the country last week in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, which left 17 people dead.

Security measures are being increased elsewhere in Europe. Hundreds of troops were being deployed across Belgium to patrol the streets after security forces broke up a suspected Islamist terrorist cell they believed was planning to kill police officers.

European defence forces are also thought to be drawing up plans to deepen their involvement in the fight against Boko Haram Islamists in Nigeria, with military training specialists expected to be sent to prepare the Nigerian armed forces for battle.

© Telegraph

Telegraph.co.uk

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