French Qaeda suspect `targeted ski commandos`
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Last Updated: Tuesday, November 17, 2009, 18:47
Paris: A French nuclear engineer arrested on suspicion of having links to the al-Qaeda militant group planned to attack an elite unit of mountain troops training for Afghanistan, police said today.

"The 27th 'Chasseurs Alpins' Brigade, was one of the potential targets," an investigator told, speaking on condition of anonymity and confirming a report in the newspaper Dauphine Libere.

The Chasseurs Alpins -- or Alpine Hunters -- are a light infantry unit that trains for operations in snow and at high altitude. Three companies from the brigade were deployed in Afghanistan last year.

The unit is based in the French Alpine town of Annecy, a short drive from Geneva where Adlene Hicheur worked at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Hicheur, a 32-year-old CERN research scientist, was arrested on October 8 by French intelligence officers who had been monitoring his Internet use.

The European Organisation for Nuclear Research operates one of the world's leading nuclear research laboratories attached to a 27 kilometre tunnel running under the Franco-Swiss border just outside Geneva.

In the tunnel, a particle accelerator attempts to recreate the sub-atomic conditions present at the time of the Big Bang, the creation of the universe.

CERN has confirmed that Hicheur was contracted to an outside institute that used the Large Hadron Collider, but added that "his work did not bring him into contact with anything that could be used for terrorism."

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, November 17, 2009, 18:47

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