NEWS

Ten jihadists tied to Athens cell

YIANNIS SOULIOTIS

TAGS: Terrorism

An “Athens cell” of the so-called Islamic State comprised two key members and at least eight radical jihadists found to have strong links with the pair, according to Belgian court documents seen by Kathimerini.

The documents, which relate to suspects linked to a string of bombings in Brussels in March and in Paris last November, link eight suspects to the two Athens-based radicals.

The two Athens-based suspects – Algerian Omar Damache, 34, and French national Walid Hamam, 32 – were arrested in a raid on a Pangrati apartment in January 2015 and are believed to be the core members.

The eight suspects with alleged links to Damache and Hamam are mentioned in the court documents.

Zaid Koulliss, 20, who is believed to be one of the jihadists that planned the suicide attacks in Paris and Brussels, had been briefly detained in Thessaloniki in October 2014 for lacking valid travel documents.

A search revealed that Koulliss had withdrawn 900 euros from his bank account a few weeks earlier and had bought bus tickets from Trikala to Munich.

Questioned by Greek police, he admitted that he had met a man, Abdelkader Benameur, an alleged propagandist for IS, in Alexandroupoli.

In fall 2014, Benameur had met with Damache in Athens and was arrested a few months later.

According to Belgian authorities, Wissem El Mokhtari and another four suspects made use of forged documents made for them by members of the Athens cell.

A raid by Greek police on the Pangrati safe-house in January 2015 turned up a laptop with photographs of the five men.

Another two suspected jihadists were also traced to Athens: Mouhammed Diallo, 28, and Mansour Niang, 32, who were convicted by a Brussels court for membership of IS. Both are alleged to have had contact with residents of the Pangrati apartment.

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