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7 Terror Suspects Arrested in Netherlands

Europe: Men are accused of being recruiters for Al Qaeda. Authorities are unsure of their identities.

September 03, 2002|From Reuters

AMSTERDAM — Dutch authorities said Monday that they had arrested seven men suspected of recruiting for the Al Qaeda terrorist network of Osama bin Laden.

"We think they are providing financial and logistical support to Al Qaeda and also recruiting young male persons for the jihad," or holy war, national prosecutors' office spokesman Wim de Bruin said.

Twelve suspects were originally arrested Friday, and eight, one of whom was freed, were brought before a judge Monday.

The seven men who remain in custody, ages 25 to 35, allegedly used false passports and aliases.

"They all claim to have nationalities not European.... We are still investigating the identities of the suspects. We are not quite sure of their real identities," spokesman De Bruin said.

Authorities arrested the seven in Rotterdam, Eindhoven and Den Helder about a week after the Dutch intelligence service passed on information to the prosecutors' office, De Bruin said.

The announcement came shortly after prosecutors leveled fresh charges against four other suspects already in custody accused of plotting to attack U.S. targets in Europe.

Earlier Monday in Rotterdam, prosecutors charged the four--two Algerians, a Frenchman and a Dutchman--with plotting to attack Belgium's Kleine Brogel air force base, where anti-nuclear activists believe the U.S. stores nuclear weapons.

The four suspects, who remain in custody, had already been charged with plotting to attack the American Embassy in Paris.

Frenchman Jerome Courtailler was arrested in Rotterdam along with Algerian Mohammed Berkous and Dutchman Saad Ibrahim within days of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Police found fake passports, driver's licenses and credit cards in their Rotterdam home, as well as videos featuring messages to followers from Bin Laden.

Algerian-born Adel Tobbichi was extradited to the Netherlands from Canada two months ago, accused of forging documents and belonging to a terrorist organization suspected of plotting to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Paris.

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