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Italy accuses two of being European al-Qaeda kingpins

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Italy accuses two of being European al-Qaeda kingpins

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Prosecutors in Italy have accused two men already in custody of being leading members of al-Qaeda in Europe. Italian anti-terrorist police claim that Bassam Ayachi and Raphael Gendron were important figures in the organisation’s European communications and propaganda network.

The pair were originally arrested in Bari last year suspected of trying to smuggle illegal immigrants into Italy. But investigators now believe they are also involved with sending combattants to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. And police say they found documents in the men’s possession mentioning possible attacks in Britain and France, including Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Italian police say both men have French nationality but lived in Belgium. Gendron and Ayachi’s son used to run an extremist website. Earlier this year a court in Brussels jailed them for a month and fined them 2,000 euros for inciting racial hatred and violence against Jews.