Tunisian, Two Moroccans Charged in Department Store Bombing
PARIS (AP) _ A Tunisian and two Moroccans were charged Monday with complicity in a bombing that killed seven people and wounded 51 at Tati department store last September, judicial sources and press reports said.
The three are allegedly part of two terrorist networks uncovered by French intelligence agents in March and April.
All three were charged previously with lesser offenses, but Monday’s charges by investigating magistrate Michel Legrand were the first directly connecting the suspects with any of five September bombings in Paris that left 11 people dead and more than 150 injured.
Among those charged Monday was Fouad Ali Saleh, 28, a Tunisian immigrant described by authorities at the time of his arrest in March as the leader of a pro-Iranian terrorist network, according to judicial sources.
Also charged were two Moroccans arrested in April - Omar Agnaou and Abdel Hamid Badaoui, the French news agency Agence France-Presse reported later.
The judicial sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Saleh was charged with complicity in murder, complicity in attempted murder, complicity in the destruction of buildings by explosives causing death and possessing explosives with the goal of disrupting public order by intimidation or terror.
AFP reported the same charges for the two Moroccans.
The Tati bombing on Sept. 17 was the worst in the bombing series, leaving dead and injured strewn over the sidewalk on the Rue de Rennes in the Montparnasse district of cafes and cinemas.
Responsibility for all five bombings was claimed by a group called the Committee for Solidarity with Arab and Middle East Political Prisoners, which demanded freedom for three convicted terrorists.
One of the three was Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, head of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Factions, a Christian Marxist group believed to have ties to Syria. At the time, French officials said they believed Abdallah’s family was responsible for the bombings and put up wanted posters with photographs of his four brothers.
But since the arrests March 22 of Saleh and seven other alleged members of his network, there have been indications the inquiry was pointing away from the Abdallahs. Besides Salah, five other Tunisians and two French of Lebanese origin were arrested.
In April, authorities arrested Badaoui and Agnaou and six others, either Lebanese or of Lebanese origin.
According to AFP, counter-intelligence agents have concluded that the terrorists who placed the bombs received logistical help from the two groups, with the mainly North African group in charge of hiding the explosives and the Lebanese group in charge of hiding the terrorists. The report did not cite sources for this information.
Those arrested in April and March were charged with criminal association and breaking laws on possession of explosives.