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Algerians jailed for bomb plot

Beandalis, wears an eye mask as he is driven out of the regional superior court in Frankfurt, Germany.
Beandalis, wears an eye mask as he is driven out of the regional superior court in Frankfurt, Germany.

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FRANKFURT, Germany (CNN) -- Four Algerians have been jailed for 10 to 12 years on Monday after a German court found them guilty of planning a bomb attack.

The four men had been accused of planning to set off a bomb at a Christmas market in December 2000 in the French city of Strasbourg, near the German border. Police foiled the plan when they detained the men on December 26, 2000 in Frankfurt.

Two of the four men denied they had plans to bomb the Christmas market and were in fact targeting a synagogue in Strasbourg.

"The accused wanted to hit the nerve center of a free, Western, civilized society," Judge Karlheinz Zeiher told the court. The men had trained in Afghanistan so they could carry out attacks as part of a "Holy War" on the West, he said.

"Everybody must be glad that the planned bloodbath did not happen. The God of us all also did not want it and stopped it."

Prosecutors had claimed that the four had been trained in Afghanistan at camps run by al Qaeda and planned to wage war in Europe, but charges of belonging to a terrorist organization were dropped to speed up the trial.

The four -- Lamine Maroni, Aeurobui Beandali, Salim Boukhari and Fouhad Sabour -- allegedly had a cache of weapons, ammunition and explosives for the attack and also had contacts with similar extremists in Britain and Italy.

The men admitted training in Afghanistan but denied connections with Osama bin Laden's terror group.

Germany has become a focus of the investigation into al Qaeda cells after it emerged that three of the hijackers involved in the September 11 attacks had studied for years in the northern city of Hamburg.

Prosecutors said the four men were part of a North African extremists group called the Nonaligned Mujahideen, with ties to al Qaeda.

Salim Boukhari and Fouhad Sabour, who received 12 years and 11 1/2 years respectively, denied any plot to kill people saying they were planning to target an empty synagogue in Strasbourg

The only member of the group to admit charges to bomb the Christmas market was Aeroubi Beandalis, who received 10 years. The fourth member of the group, Lamine Maroni, was sentenced to 11 years.

Samir Karimou, who had been linked to the group, is being tried separately on the charge of belonging to a terrorist organization.

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