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Monday, 8 October, 2001, 22:30 GMT 23:30 UK
Bosnian arrest over 'Bin Laden links'
S-For troops
The S-For stabilisation force has also arrested suspects
A man has been arrested in Bosnia on suspicion of having links to Osama Bin Laden.

This individual is linked to a telephone number of Abu Zabudal, senior officer of Osama bin Laden, in connection with the purchase of a number of passports of different countries

Interior Minister of Muslim-Croat Federation
Bensayak Belkacem has been accused of having at least one telephone conversation with a senior aide to Bin Laden about getting hold of foreign passports.

According to information provided by foreign intelligence agencies Mr Belkacem had spoken to Abu Zabudal, allegedly a senior military aide to Bin Laden.

Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network are held responsible by the United States and her allies for the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington.

Conflicting documents

Mr Belkacem, who also goes by the alias Mezd, was arrested in Zenica in the Muslim-Croat federation, said Muhamed Besic, the interior minister for that part of Bosnia.

"The phone number of Abu Zabudal, Bin Laden's senior officer, was found among Belkacen's possessions. That was the signal for [his] arrest" Mr Besic said.

Mr Belkacem had two sets of documents - one of which said he was Yemeni, the other Algerian.

I do not believe Bosnia is living on the other side of the line, on the dark side of the world where terrorism rules

Bosnian Prime Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija

Mr Besic said Bosnia was continuing to receive information from the Nato-led Stabilisation Force stationed in Bosnia and from Nato allies which could lead to further arrests.

Earlier this month peacekeepers arrested four suspects believed to be linked to terror networks, though two of them were later released.

A number of people have also been deported from Bosnia on suspicion of terrorist links.

Zenica division
Zenica was a centre for the Mujahideen during the Bosnian war
But the Prime Minister of Bosnia, Zlatko Lagumdzija, said that Bosnia was not at the centre of any terrorist plots.

"I do not believe Bosnia is living on the other side of the line, on the dark side of the world where terrorism rules," he said.

The influx of Mujahideen fighters - some reportedly sponsored by Bin Laden - to support the Muslim campaign during the Bosnian war has raised concern that Bosnia may have become a centre for extremist plots.

European investigations

The arrest is the latest in a series of attempts across Europe to try to unravel terrorist networks.

Other developments include:

  • Djamel Beghal, a French Algerian, was extradited to France from the UAE in connection with the alleged plot

  • Another French-Algerian, Kamel Daoudi, was arrested in Leicester in the UK and extradited to France

  • In Britain, Lotfi Raissi was arrested. He is alleged to have given flight training to four of the hijackers

  • Three hijack suspects were tracked back to Hamburg in northern Germany where they attended university

  • Belgian police arrested two men, alleged to be Islamic militants, and seized a huge store of chemicals in their Brussels flat

  • In Rotterdam Dutch police arrested Islamic militants suspected of some connection to the attacks

  • Six Algerians were arrested in Spain on suspicion of links with Bin Laden.
See also:

08 Oct 01 | South Asia
US declares strikes 'success'
20 Sep 01 | Americas
The trail to Bin Laden
05 Oct 01 | Americas
The investigation and the evidence
02 Oct 01 | Europe
Bosnia terror suspects quizzed
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