A German arrested last week because of his suspected involvement in a deadly Tunisian terror attack is a ranking al Qaeda member and has been in contact with Osama bin Laden, France's interior minister said Wednesday.
Christian Ganczarski, 36, was arrested June 3 at Charles de Gaulle Airport for his alleged role in an April 2002 attack that killed 21 people, including 14 German tourists, at a synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia.
French intelligence agents believe Ganczarski is a ranking al Qaeda official, has been in contact with al Qaeda leader bin Laden and served in Afghanistan and Bosnia, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy told Parliament.
Ganczarski is a specialist in computers and telecommunications, the minister said.
On Saturday, Ganczarski was placed under investigation — a step short of being charged — for "complicity in murder" in the synagogue attack.
Nizar Naouar, the suspected suicide attacker who blew up a truckload of natural gas at the historic synagogue, was believed to have placed a call to Ganczarski just before the attack.
Ganczarski was arrested by German police, freed for lack of evidence and arrested again in April in Saudi Arabia. He then was released a second time.
Meanwhile, a Moroccan arrested June 1 as he traveled through Paris told investigators that Ganczarski was "one of the organizers and the financier" of an attack being planned on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, Sarkozy said.
Karim Mehdi, 34, told France's top anti-terrorism judge that he was headed to Reunion to scout out the island ahead of a possible attack using a booby-trapped car, Sarkozy said.
Judicial officials said at the time of the arrests they suspected that both Mehdi and Ganczarski had ties with the Hamburg cell of al Qaeda, the original base of Mohammed Atta, the ringleader in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States.
Fifty-one people with suspected links to terrorism have been arrested in France since November, Sarkozy said.
France has more significant ties to the Muslim world than other Western European countries because of its long presence in Algeria and other former colonies.
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