Thursday, October 30, 2003

Score for Australia, France still questionable

Australia has caught a terrorist cell, but is wondering why France took so long to tip them off regarding one particular member of the cell.

Federal police say authorities have smashed an Australian terrorist cell linked to the French national Willie Virgile Brigitte, who they have confirmed has direct al-Qaeda connections.

The Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty, said last night that the actions of ASIO, AFP officers and NSW police over the past few days and weeks had "broken up and disrupted a [terrorist] group".

Asked whether the 35-year-old Brigitte, who has been deported, was the most serious al-Qaeda link arrested in Australia, Mr Keelty said "well, from what we know so far that is true".

Reports coming out of France "clearly indicate he wasn't here for a holiday, and he was here for an untoward purpose", he told the Nine Network.

French authorities are investigating Brigitte's role in the murder of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Northern Alliance leader in Afghanistan.

The Caribbean-born Brigitte is also suspected of operating survival training camps for al-Qaeda sympathisers in the Fontainebleau forest, near Paris, according to French media reports.

Mr Keelty said he did not know why it took French authorities almost five months to warn Australia of Brigitte's terrorist links.

Way to go, France.


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