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Wednesday, 26 September, 2001, 21:22 GMT 22:22 UK
French police probe helicopter plot
The Paris skyline
Police are looking into a possible air attack on Paris
By the BBC's Malcolm Brabant

French police are trying to determine whether supporters of Osama Bin Laden planned to launch a suicide mission against the American Embassy in Paris by turning a helicopter into a flying bomb.

Seven people arrested on suspicion of plotting to attack American interests in France have been remanded in custody in Paris for the duration of the investigation.

Elsewhere, anti-terrorist squad detectives are continuing to question three men detained in Leicester in Central England on Tuesday.

And Spanish police have arrested six alleged members of an Algerian extremist group which is believed to have had links with Bin Laden.

Flight manuals

Police forces across Europe are following up leads apparently provided by a Franco Algerian called Djamel Beghal, who was arrested in Dubai in July.

Osama Bin Laden
Spanish police said their detainees had trained in Bin Laden camps

He has reportedly told intelligence sources that his network of extremists planned to attack a number of American targets in France, including the US embassy in Paris and the consulate in Marseille.

French police have seized flight manuals for helicopters, and they are trying to determine whether the suspects intended to attack the American Embassy in Paris in an airborne suicide attack.

Seven people have been remanded in custody by a special court in Paris while they are investigated for what was termed a conspiracy to prepare terrorist acts.

French officials say one of Beghal's alleged group members, Kemal Daoudi, managed to get away before the raids in France.

But he was arrested along with two other men in Central England on Tuesday and is now being questioned by British anti-terrorist squad officers.

Spanish twist

Spanish authorities believe they have made an important breakthrough as law enforcement agencies across the world attempt to prevent a second major atrocity.

Six members of an extreme Algerian group, linked to Bin Laden, were detained in a series of raids in northeast Spain.

The Spanish Interior Minister Mariano Rajoy said the Algerians had trained in camps in Afghanistan where Bin Laden is believed to be hiding.

British police outside the lorry in which the men were found
Six Iraqis found in Britain may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time

Mr Rajoy said the six specialised in falsifying documents and credit card fraud to help Islamic militants.

Meanwhile police in the British Eastern county of Suffolk are trying to determine the intentions of six Iraqis who were arrested at a base used by American strike aircraft.

They have been detained under the terrorism act.

They were concealed in a lorry that is believed to have entered Britain from Germany earlier in the day and were discovered during a routine check of the vehicle at the air base entrance.

A Suffolk police spokesman said the matter was being treated very seriously because of the base's sensitivity, but acknowledged it was possible they were simply asylum seekers who had had the misfortune to choose the wrong lorry.

See also:

26 Sep 01 | Europe
Spain arrests six terror suspects
26 Sep 01 | England
Iraqis held at US base
26 Sep 01 | Europe
Nato 'to hear attack evidence'
26 Sep 01 | Americas
US split on Bin Laden evidence
25 Sep 01 | Europe
A significant step for Russia
18 Sep 01 | South Asia
Who is Osama Bin Laden?
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