KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Oct 20, 2004 — A Frenchman suspected of trying to set up an al-Qaida cell in Japan visited Malaysia six times in 2002 and 2003 and met with Arabs here, a newspaper reported Thursday.
Lionel Dumont, who is now in jail in France, stayed in hotels across Malaysia and rented a house for several months in a northern state, The Star newspaper said, citing an unidentified security source.
"We are gathering information on what happened or who he met during his stay here in Malaysia. From our investigations we found he had met several Arabs here," The Star quoted the security source as saying.
However, there is no evidence that he met with members of Jemaah Islamiyah, the regional arm of al-Qaida, The Star said.
The report could not be independently confirmed and police were not immediately available for comment.
Japanese media have reported that police suspect Dumont was trying to establish an al-Qaida cell to carry out a terrorist attack while he lived and worked in Japan as a car salesman from 2002 to 2003.
He entered the country on a fake passport and reportedly made several trips to Europe and Asia before leaving Japan permanently.
Dumont was arrested in Germany in December 2003 and extradited to France in early May to face a life imprisonment sentence he received in-absentia in 2001 for his role in a criminal gang linked to Islamic radicals.
However, lack of evidence meant that terrorism-related charges were never brought against Dumont. In keeping with French law regarding convictions in absentia, Dumont will now be retried.
Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"