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RESPONSE TO TERROR

Belgium Arrests Algerian in Afghan Assassination

November 29, 2001|Associated Press

BRUSSELS — Belgian authorities arrested an Algerian on Wednesday after a series of raids on a suspected false passport ring believed linked to the assassination of Afghan opposition leader Ahmed Shah Masoud.

The arrest came after authorities released 12 people who had been detained in house raids Monday, said Jos Colpin, spokesman for the prosecutor's office.

The raids are believed part of an investigation into whether two suicide bombers who fatally wounded Masoud on Sept. 9 in his northern Afghan headquarters had been operating out of Belgium. Masoud's killers posed as journalists and had Belgian passports.

The 30-year-old Algerian asylum-seeker was charged with forgery and gangsterism. Colpin refused to elaborate.

Authorities believe the passports Masoud's killers carried were stolen from Belgium's consulate in Strasbourg, France, or its embassy in The Hague.

The raids came after British officials last month arrested an Egyptian activist and charged him in the plot to murder Masoud.

British prosecutors say the Egyptian, Yasser Serri, used his London-based Muslim group to give fake journalistic credentials to the two men, who detonated a bomb hidden in their camera while they interviewed Masoud.

Masoud, the alliance's military chief, was seen as the leader of the anti-Taliban struggle and a figure who might have played a major role in a post-Taliban government.

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