A physicist based at the Cern laboratory in Geneva has been jailed for five years for plotting a terror attack with an alleged member of al-Qaeda.
Prosecutors focused on emails between Adlene Hicheur and an alleged al-Qaeda contact
Adlene Hicheur, 35, was researching the origins of the universe at Cern, home of the Large Hadron Collider, when he was arrested and detained in October 2009.
He had previously worked at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, a world-leading research lab in Didcot, Oxfordshire.
Police moved in after intercepting emails between Hicheur and Mustapha Debchi, thought to be a member of al-Qaeda’s north African branch, in which the scientist expressed his willingness to “work in a unit becoming active in France”.
Hicheur reportedly declined an offer to carry out a suicide bombing, but discussed “possible objectives in Europe and particularly in France” including a possible attack on a barracks at Cran-Gevrier, 20 miles from Cern.
Magistrates said the exchange of 35 messages “crossed the line of simple debate of political or religious ideas to enter the sphere of terrorist violence.”