Swiss claim terrorists plotted to blow up Israeli passenger jet

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The Independent Online

Intelligence services in Switzerland claim to have foiled a plot to shoot down an El Al flight from Geneva, officials said yesterday. Seven people of north African origin have been arrested.

It is alleged that a terrorist cell had planned to use a rocket-propelled grenade to shoot down the Israeli jet last December during take-off from Geneva airport, said a statement released by the Federal Prosecutor's Office. No explosives have been found.

The seven men arrested allegedly belong to a criminal cell targeted in connection with a spate of robberies in May. Some of the proceeds were allegedly transferred to an organisation linked to terrorism.

French and Spanish law enforcement agencies were also involved in the investigation. "

Those who were arrested in Switzerland maintained contact with similar cells in France and Spain, which were likewise smashed," the statement from the Swiss Federal Prosecutor's Office said.

One of the members of the Swiss cell is alleged to have been in contact with Mohamed Achraf, who has been indicted in Spain for an alleged 2004 plot to blow up Madrid's National Court, the hub of Spain's anti-terror investigations.

All El Al flights from the Geneva - which is home to the European headquarters of the United Nations - were diverted to Zurich for a week after the incident, officially for "commercial or technical reasons", Philippe Roy, spokesman for Geneva airport, said.