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Thursday, 17 January, 2002, 18:44 GMT
UK al-Qaeda suspects remanded
Police take away one of the men arrested in Leicester
Police take away one of the men arrested in Leicester
Two men charged with involvement in the al-Qaeda terror group have been remanded in custody, as police arrested 11 other men in Leicester.

The two Algerians were arrested in Leicestershire last year.

Baghdad Meziane, 37, from Rolleston Street, Leicester, has been charged with directing al-Qaeda, inciting an act of terrorism overseas, membership of al-Qaeda, a proscribed organisation, and four charges relating to the financing of terrorism.

Brahim Benmerzouga, 30, from Prospect Hill, Leicester, has been charged with membership of al-Qaeda, four charges relating to the financing of terrorism, possession of an article for the purposes of terrorism and possession of racially inflammatory material with a view to distribution.

We would remind people to remain vigilant and report any suspicions to the police

Leicestershire police

They appeared before magistrates in Leicester on Thursday and were remanded in custody until 24 January.

As part of an ongoing investigation into anti-Western terror activity, a further 11 men were arrested on Thursday in a series of raids on a number of addresses in Leicester.

Police sources said the arrests are not directly linked to the 11 September attacks and were not made at the request of the FBI.

The French radio station Europe 1 said the arrests were connected to investigations into planned attacks by Islamic militants in France.

Since the attacks on New York and Washington, British intelligence has been drawing up a list of Islamic radicals - some linked to al-Qaeda - who are regarded as a security threat to Britain and other countries.

Leicestershire police said eight men were arrested on Thursday morning under anti-terrorism legislation, along with three men detained under the Immigration Act 1971.

The latest arrests were made in a joint operation between Leicestershire police and the Metropolitan police's anti-terrorist branch, supported by the immigration service.

The 11 men were arrested at eight different addresses in Leicester, and police are searching the buildings for possible evidence.

One other address is also being searched.

The men, aged between 23 and 40, remain in custody in Leicestershire.

London search

Police said a house in London was searched in connection with the terrorist operation in Leicester.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said residential premises in north west London were raided and searched at around 0710 GMT.

A Leicestershire police spokesperson said: "People in parts of Leicester may see additional police activity and experience some disruption to their normal lifestyle over the next couple of days.

"We hope they will bear with us and continue to show us the support that we have been receiving.

"We must stress that there is no evidence to suggest any terrorist threat against Leicestershire or that people in Leicestershire are at any greater risk, however we would remind people to remain vigilant and report any suspicions to the police."

The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"They are being held in a high security station"
The BBC's Danny Shaw
"These two men together face seven charges each"
See also:

20 Dec 01 | UK Politics
UK hails anti-terror progress
14 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Anti-terror Act at-a-glance
08 Nov 01 | Business
More suspected terror funds seized
14 Dec 01 | England
Terror suspect stays in custody
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