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."