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French Judge Questions Tunisian Synagogue Bombing Suspects - 2002-11-12

A French judge in charge of anti-terrorism in Paris began questioning Tuesday three men in connection to an attack on a Tunisian synagogue in April, which is allegedly linked to the al-Qaida terrorist network. At least one man has been charged with complicity in the attack.

The three men are friends or family of Nizar Nawar, who is believed to have staged a suicide attack on a synagogue in the Tunisian island of Djerba. A truck, apparently driven by Nawar exploded outside the synagogue, killing 21 people. The al-Qaida terrorist network has claimed Tunisian-born Nawar as one of its own.

According to news agencies, Nawar's 22-year-old brother Walid, who lives in Lyon,France, has been charged with "complicity in assassination, and tentative assassination in relation to a terrorist enterprise." Walid Nawar reportedly bought the satellite telephone used by his brother Nizar, and gave him a modem and false papers.

According to news reports, Nizar Nawar apparently used the telephone to place at least two calls to associates, including a suspected Qaida member in Karachi, Pakistan, before staging the explosion.

Nizar Nawar's uncle Mohammed, and a family friend, Tare Hdia were also questioned by French antiterrorist judges Tuesday. They are reportedly suspected of helping to finance the attack. The members of Nizar Nawar's family said they were unaware of his plans. They said the last time they heard from him was in April, when he promised he would visit them in France.

The three suspects are among eight people arrested last week in connection to the Djerba attack. Five others, including the parents of Nizar Nawar, have since been released.