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France to Expel Accomplice in Killing of Anti-Taliban Afghan Commander

Lisa Bryant

A French-Tunisian, who served a jail sentence in France for helping the killers of Afghan commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, now might be expelled to Tunisia. Human rights groups claim Adel Tebourski may be tortured if he is sent home.

Forty-two-year-old Adel Tebourski served a five-year sentence in France for providing logistical support to the two men accused of killing Afghanistan's anti-Taleban Northern Alliance commander, Ahmed Shah Massoud. Just out of prison, Tebourski now faces a new problem. The French government has little tolerance for terrorists and their accomplices. It wants to send him back to his birthplace, Tunisia.

Now, three anti-torture groups are trying to block that expulsion order. They cite reports from the United Nations criticizing Tunisia for its use of torture on terrorist suspects and prisoners. Caroline Larpin is a jurist at Cimade, a French organization working to ensure those detained are granted their legal rights. Cimade is among the organizations fighting Tebourski's expulsion order.

Larpin says her group is certain that if Tebourski is sent back to Tunisia his life or health would be in danger. She says Tunisian law allows those who have been imprisoned for terrorist acts in one country to be severely punished in Tunisia. The State Department's latest human rights report also cites Tunisia's use of torture in dealing with alleged terrorists and their associates. The use of torture is a sensitive issue in Europe as well - particularly following allegations of U.S. Central Intelligence Agency renditions of terrorist suspects to third countries, where some were reported to have been tortured.

Tebourski is a native Tunisian who later acquired French nationality. Earlier this week, he filed a request for asylum in France. Larpin, of the group Cimade, says French authorities are expected to rule on the request and demands to rescind his extradition, fairly rapidly.

During his trial in Paris, Tebourski denied having any knowledge of plans to assassinate Massoud. But he admitted he was a member of an Islamist cell with ties to one of the two Tunisian men who killed the Afghan commander. He was charged of changing nearly $6,000 for one of the killers, before he left on his mission.

Massoud was assassinated in September 2001, just two days before the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

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