The 21st Century Phenomenon


On 01/11/2005, French intelligence officers arrested three French-born of Algerian descent: Khaled Ouazane, 38, his brother Maamar Ouazane, 22, and Hassen Habbar, 35,suspected of plotting to blow up the Eiffel Tower. The threat was uncovered in a “vague and muffled” radio conversation picked up by air traffic controllers in Lisbon, Portugal, on Thursday 01/06/2005. According to the police, the suspects began smuggling bomb-making equipment into France over three years with the intention of amassing enough explosives to collapse the landmark. The plot came to the attention of the French security service in late 2002 when police raided a flat near Paris and found electronic parts used in detonators and chemicals that can be used in explosives.


According to Maamar Ouazane, the cells planned to attack the Russian Embassy in Paris, the Eiffel Tower, a large department store and a police station. The investigation revealed that the three detainees, led by Maamar Ouazane, were an extension of the Lyon Cell and had a minor role in the cell.


On 02/17/2005 the three suspects Khaled Ouazane, Maamar Ouazane and Hassen Habbar, were indicted of being associates to a terror group and put on trial with other suspects of the Lyon Cell.


Maamar Ouazane collaborated with the French authorities and became the main witness in the trial of 25 defendants of the Lyon Cell. He was convicted and sentenced to two years in jail, on 06/14/2006, already served. Khaled Ouazane and Hassen Habbar received also short terms of few months in jail.


Merouane Benhamed and Menad Benchelalli received 10 years each in the trial. Said Arif, 40, and Nouredine Merabet, described as the group’s financier, were sentenced to nine years. Other defendants received lesser terms and two were acquitted. 
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