Charges unsealed against man linked to bin Laden, Al-Qaeda

Court sketch taken on Jan. 5, 2009 at Paris courthouse, shows Christian Ganczarski on trial. (AFP)
Updated 18 January 2018
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Charges unsealed against man linked to bin Laden, Al-Qaeda

NEW YORK: New terrorism charges await a German man who provided critical support to Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks and will face trial in the US after serving most of a terrorism-related prison sentence in France, authorities said Wednesday.
Christian Ganczarski, 51, was charged in a newly unsealed indictment in Manhattan federal court with conspiring to kill Americans and supporting terrorists.
Top US law enforcement officials portray Ganczarski as a key Al-Qaeda supporter in the two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, saying he provided technological guidance and software, knew at least one of the 9/11 hijackers and sat in the front row of a bin Laden speech in January 2000 with the son of one of Al-Qaeda’s top operatives on his lap.
In a release, Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said Ganczarski “provided critical support to the most prolific terrorists of our time.”
He added that Ganczarski participated in the planning of plots to kill Americans with high-level Al-Qaeda terrorists, including bin Laden and Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-described architect of the 9/11 attacks.
The US seeks Ganczarski’s extradition from France, where he has been imprisoned for the last 15 years after he was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison for his role in a 2002 attack on a synagogue in Tunisia that killed 21 people.
Last week, he was charged with stabbing three prison guards, leading to his transfer to another prison in northern France and sparking protests by French prison guards outside scores of jails across France.
William F. Sweeney Jr., head of New York’s FBI office, said Ganczarski arranged meetings between senior officials in Al-Qaeda and other like-minded individuals who wanted to attack US interests.
“While he’s spent the past fifteen years behind bars in France, we haven’t forgotten his allegiance to those who have threatened our interests both at home and abroad,” he said.
New York Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said Ganczarski lived in Al-Qaeda’s camps and guest houses while he worked with bin Laden and men who planned and executed plots to bomb US embassies in Africa, killing 225 people.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, Ganczarski helped Al-Qaeda maintain weapons systems that would be used to attack US soldiers and their aircraft, O’Neill said.
Authorities said Ganczarski was in Germany at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks and indicated afterward that he had been aware that a significant event was about to occur.


’Air Cocaine’ smuggling trial starts in France

French Jean Fauret (R) and Bruno Odos (C), respectively pilot and co-pilot, arrive on February 18, 2019 at the Assize Court of Aix-En-Provence, southern France ahead of a court hearing in the trial over 'Air Cocaine' plot to smuggle planeload of drugs. (AFP)
Updated 3 min 59 sec ago
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’Air Cocaine’ smuggling trial starts in France

  • Only one suspect, Ali Bouchareb, is in detention in the case while the other eight were granted bail pending the trial

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France: Two former French air force pilots went on trial in France on Monday six years after they fled the Dominican Republic following a spectacular drugs bust on a private jet in the Caribbean nation.
In what has become known as the “Air Cocaine” case, Pascal Fauret and Bruno Odos are accused along with seven other defendants of trying to smuggle 680 kilogrammes (1,500 pounds) of the drug out of the country.
Dominican police found the narcotics packed into 26 suitcases onboard a Falcon 50 jet as it prepared to fly from the Dominican beach resort of Punta Cana to Saint-Tropez in the south of France in March 2013.
While out on bail, the two men managed to flee the Dominican Republic to French territory in the Caribbean in mysterious circumstances, but were re-arrested upon their return to the French mainland in November 2015.
They, along with two passengers, were found guilty in absentia and sentenced to 20 years in jail for drug-trafficking in the Dominican Republic in 2015.
All of them deny they knew that the cocaine was on board the flight.
The French court will hear scores of witnesses and experts over seven weeks and the defendants face up to 30 years in prison.
Only one suspect, Ali Bouchareb, is in detention in the case while the other eight were granted bail pending the trial.