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Terror link suspects in UK court

The Algerians appeared at the high-security Belmarsh courts and prison complex in east London
The Algerians appeared at the high-security Belmarsh courts and prison complex in east London  

LONDON, England -- A pilot wanted by the United States in connection with the airliner attacks on New York and Washington is one of three Algerians to have appeared in court in Britain.

Lotfi Raissi, 27, was arrested in Berkshire, west of London, last month on allegations he trained four of the pilots in the September 11 suicide attacks. The U.S. is seeking his extradition.

He appeared in court at Belmarsh Magistrates Court in southeast London on Friday where he was remanded in custody pending a further appearance on November 27.

Raissi's defence lawyer Hugo Keith made no application for bail.

But he told the court: "There has been a great deal of reporting in the press concerning comments made by people about playing along and basically abusing extradition procedures.

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"I make no application for bail today but in the light of some comments and the seriousness of the case against him it is worth pointing out that he is charged still only with perjury, and that despite that fact the U.S. government and the Crown have put the case against him on a much wider and more serious basis.

"Mr Raissi is entitled to know where he stands."

He called on the U.S. and UK authorities to make their full case quickly.

The specific charges so far laid against Raissi are that he made a false statement on a U.S. Federal Aviation Authority application.

He is also accused of failing to disclose that he had had surgery and that he had been to a health professional in the past three years.

Raissi was living near London's Heathrow airport since early this year with his French wife Sonia.

He was training to obtain a European flying licence, necessary under Algerian regulations to seek a job in an airline company.

He had spent the previous year studying in the United States for his pilot qualifications.

Two other Algerians suspected of being terrorists with links to Osama bin Laden's network also appeared in court on Friday.

Mustapha Labsi, 32 was remanded in custody at Belmarsh Magistrates Court in extradition proceedings brought by France.

He is accused by the French government of involvement in a bomb plot centred on the G7 summit in Lille five years ago.

He faces three draft charges that include conspiring to use false passports for the "commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism," and conspiring to cause explosions.

London-based Amar Makhlulif, 37, also known by the surname Boha and as "the doctor," has been named by U.S. prosecutors as a leading figure in bin Laden's terror network.

He is charged with conspiracy to cause explosions.

Makhlulif was arrested in July and is accused by the U.S. of involvement in an alleged millennium eve plot to blow up an airport in Los Angeles.

He is accused of helping terrorists to travel to bin Laden's training camps in Afghanistan and of sending others to Canada to prepare for the attack.

Labsi and Makhulif were remanded in custody to November 27.


• UK investigates 24 FBI suspects
October 19, 2001
• Man arrested at UK airport
September 30, 2001
• Feds seek extradition of Algerian pilot
September 29, 2001
• Suspect instructed attack pilots, court hears
September 29, 2001

• Scotland Yard

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