Eight suspected Islamic extremists go on trial in Paris today, four of them in connection with the murder of a top Afghan opposition commander. They face charges of helping to kill Ahmed Shah Massoud, a leading opponent of the former Taliban regime, just two days before the September 11 attacks in the US.
The four men, who are all of north African origin, are accused of forging the papers which enabled two suicide killers to pose as Tunisian journalists. They approached Massoud for an interview in northern Afghanistan, during which they blew him up and themselves.
Massoud was the military leader of the Northern Alliance fighting the regime in Kabul. Known as the Lion of Panjshir, he was a charismatic personality who was feted in Europe just a few months before his death, to the fury of the Taliban. The other suspects are accused of organising paramilitary training in France allegedly aimed at selecting recruits to go to Afghanistan.