A French court sentenced French-Algerian Djamel Beghal Tuesday to 10 years in prison for plotting to blow up the U.S. embassy in Paris and jailed five accomplices for periods of one to nine years.
The six men, all of Algerian origin, are suspected of having links to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden but denied any role in the foiled 2001 plot. They were charged with criminal conspiracy designed to commit an act of terrorism.
Kamel Daoudi, who was deported from Britain in 2001, received a nine-year sentence. Daoudi, 30, was accused of masterminding logistics and communications in the embassy plot.
Two other members of the group were jailed for six years, another for three years and the last for one year.
Beghal, 39, was extradited to France from the United Arab Emirates in late September 2001 after he told police in the Gulf state that he had helped plan a foiled suicide attack on the U.S. embassy just off the Champs Elysees in central Paris.
He later retracted his statement, saying he had confessed under “methodical torture.”
The prosecution said Beghal visited training camps in Afghanistan in 2000 where he initially told investigators he met Abu Zubaydah, a senior al Qaeda official subsequently arrested in Pakistan in 2002.
Investigators found the suicide attack was supposed to have been carried out by Tunisian-born former professional soccer player Nizar ben Abdelaziz Trabelsi.
Trabelsi was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a court in Brussels in 2003 for plotting to blow up a NATO military base in Belgium on behalf of al Qaeda. Trabelsi publicly confessed to plotting that attack, but not to the Paris plot.