RealNews

Islamists trained in rural France

French Islamist militants, who later spent time in al-Qaida military camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan and went on to became soldiers of the jihad, underwent their first group training exercises in the bucolic surroundings of the forest of Fontainebleau, investigators said yesterday. “We call them the Old Campers,” said a police officer working with judge Jean-Louis Bruguière, France’s leading anti-terrorist investigating magistrate. “They trained in the forest near Paris, and also in the Alps near Annecy. At least one later died fighting with al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan.” According to the weekly news magazine l’Express the training exercises in France, which took place from 1996 to 1999, were relatively low-level introductory courses focusing on group cohesion, endurance and loyalty. For periods of up to a week, groups of militants would march long distances, mount staged manhunts and practise unarmed combat. Full Story

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