French news agencies report a suspected Muslim militant recently has admitted to planning suicide attacks against the American Embassy in Paris under orders from accused terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
Thirty-five-year-old Djamel Beghal was arrested last July in the United Arab Emirates, reportedly while returning from a training camp in Afghanistan. French news reports say the camp was run by associates of Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind of the September attacks in the United States.
News reports say that following his arrest in Dubai, Mr. Beghal apparently confessed to an intricate plot to blow up the United States embassy in Paris and implicated a number of other people in the plan. He was extradited to France on Sunday.
During marathon questioning Monday, Mr. Beghal reportedly told French anti-terrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere he had been ordered to attack the American embassy by a top aide to Mr. bin Laden.
French media, citing judicial sources, said the attack was supposed to take place before March of next year. Mr. Bruguiere's office would not comment on the reports.
A U.S. embassy spokesman in Paris also would not comment on Mr. Beghal's reported confession, or on the state of embassy security.
Over the past two weeks, French police have arrested more than one-half-dozen suspected Muslim militants, many reportedly linked to Mr. Beghal. In addition, a Tunisian soccer player arrested in Belgium last month was reportedly picked to be the suicide bomber in the mission, which aimed to ram a truck loaded with explosives into the U.S. embassy in Paris. And on Saturday, Britain extradited to France the suspected logistics head in the plot, Kamel Daoudi.
Three other suspected Muslim militants went on trial in France Tuesday, in an unrelated case. French officials say the men are part of a northern French gang accused of a series of holdups in 1996, reportedly to finance Muslim militant causes. The group has also been linked with Mr. bin Laden's movement.