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Slain Militant Linked to Al Qaeda

Yemeni native killed in September was a top operative in Bin Laden's group, Algeria says.

November 26, 2002|From Times Wire Services

ALGIERS — An Islamic militant killed by Algerian security forces in a raid more than two months ago has been identified as a top Al Qaeda operative in Africa, Algeria's official news agency reported Monday.

Emad Abdelwahid Ahmed Alwan, sometimes known as Abu Mohammed, was shot and killed in a Sept. 12 raid in the Batna region, about 200 miles east of Algiers, the APS news agency reported.

Ahmed Alwan, a 37-year-old native of Yemen, was identified after a two-month investigation by government experts, the report said. He was a leader of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network for northern and western Africa, it said.

A U.S. official in Washington said there was no independent confirmation that Ahmed Alwan was dead. "If it's true, the world is a safer place. He is a significant figure [in Al Qaeda] but is not at the very top," the official said.

APS said Ahmed Alwan was instrumental in helping settle Al Qaeda fighters from Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia in Yemen after they lost their bases in Afghanistan following the demise of Taliban rule in that Central Asian nation last year.

In Algeria, he worked with the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, an organization suspected of links to Bin Laden, APS said. The rebel group is one of two leading guerrilla factions fighting the Algerian government.

Meanwhile in France, police arrested six suspected Islamic radicals on Monday as part of a crackdown on networks recruiting for extremist groups.

A judicial source said the arrests in a northern Paris suburb were part of a probe into networks that may have sent Muslim youths for military training in Afghanistan before the Taliban regime was overthrown.

Police arrested five other suspects Friday and Saturday on charges of providing false passports and money to Islamic activists. The source said they belonged to a different network.

One of the men arrested over the weekend was an Algerian, Redouane Daoud, who escaped from a Dutch prison in June, the source said.

The daily Le Monde said Daoud, 25, was thought to be the head of the Al Qaeda network in the Netherlands.

The paper said police think he might be linked to a group that provided passports to two Arab journalists who killed Afghan commander Ahmed Shah Masoud, the famed leader of anti-Taliban forces, last year.

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