Ten detained in Europe for alleged ties to Islamic extremists

PARIS - Police in France, Germany and the Netherlands arrested on Friday 10 people suspected of providing funding to Islamic extremists in Uzbekistan, officials said.

Eight arrests took place in France, one in the Netherlands and one in Germany. One suspect was later released in France.

The eight suspects of Turkish origin thought to have ties to Al-Qaeda were arrested in a suburb of the eastern city of Mulhouse and in the central Rhone region, a police source said.

The source said anti-terrorism units moved in on the group as a "pre-emptive" measure and that none of the suspects had committed attacks.

Police found several firearms and a large amount of cash during searches of the suspects' homes on Friday, a police source said. Computer discs and files were seized.

The suspects are believed to have helped fund the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), formed in 1998 and considered one of the most radical groups operating in Central Asia.

The group "is linked to the Pakistani-Afghan" area, the source added.

The French domestic DST intelligence agency had been investigating the ring for close to a year and the arrests were ordered by anti-terrorism judge Thierry Fragnoli.

In the Netherlands the state prosecutor's office said that the man arrested was a 48-year-old Turk in the southern town of Tilburg.

The arrest followed a request from French authorities who have applied for him to be extradited to France, a statement said.

"The French police and intelligence services have over these past months launched a probe into the funding of a Turkish Islamist group" linked to Metin Kaplan, who was sentenced to life in June 2005 for plotting to overthrow Turkey's secular system, the statement said.

The statement said three apartments had been searched during a raid.

In Germany, prosecutors said the man arrested in Weil am Rhein in the country's southwest -- around 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Mulhouse -- was a 35 year-old of foreign nationality and that he was not wanted by local authorities.

Following a request from French authorities anti-terror police raided his flat at 6:00 am (0400 GMT), arrested him and seized unspecified objects, prosecutors told AFP.

He was due to appear before a judge later on Friday or by Saturday at the latest who will rule whether he will remain in custody. A higher regional court in Karlsruhe will then decide on his extradition to France.


05/16/2008 16:37 GMT

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