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Suspect: Taliban must approve al-Qa'eda terror acts

PARIS (AP) — A leading suspect in a plot to attack the U.S. Embassy in Paris has told a French judge that Afghanistan's Taliban regime made a "pact" with Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda network and would have had to approve terrorist acts like the Sept. 11 suicide hijackings. Djamel Beghal, who French authorities believe is linked to bin Laden, told anti-terror Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere of the pact during questioning in Paris on Oct. 1. The case file, which is sealed to the public, was shown to The Associated Press on Thursday.

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It is not clear to what extent Beghal had access to top al-Qa'eda members and Taliban officials or how he knew about any agreements that may have been made between the two groups.

However, in his first interrogation in the United Arab Emirates, Beghal spoke in detail about being recruited and meeting at bin Laden's Afghanistan home with Abu Zubaydah, one of the suspected terrorist mastermind's top aide. Beghal also said he spent time at training camps in Afghanistan.

Beghal later recanted some of his Dubai testimony, claiming it was extracted under physical duress, his lawyer said.

During 11 hours of testimony on Oct. 1 before the French magistrate, Beghal told of the agreement between the Taliban and bin Laden.

The pact was made in May, Beghal told the judge, according to the case file.

"None of the terrorist operations of al-Qa'eda could have been decided after May 2001 except with the accord of the Taliban and their chief, Mullah (Mohammed) Omar," Beghal said.

He added: "al-Qa'eda is an integral part of the Taliban regime and its political and military structures."

Beghal said that after the pact, the Taliban closed all training camps in the country that were not linked to bin Laden.

Beghal, 36, a French-Algerian, was arrested in late July in Dubai with a false passport, and extradited to France after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

He has been placed under investigation in France — a step short of formal charges — for alleged participation in the plot to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Paris and other targets.

He admitted to the plot while in detention in Dubai, but during the questioning in Paris, Beghal denied having orders to carry out any attack, said his French lawyer, Fabrice Dubest.

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