France jails jihadi veteran for 16 years over Syria role

Paris: A Paris court on Thursday jailed a Franco-Algerian veteran of jihadist conflicts to 16 years in prison over trips he made to Syria between 2012 and 2014 to serve with a jihadist group.

The sentence is one of the longest handed out in France to a returnee from the Syrian battlegrounds. The heavy sentence was due in part to his earlier offences.

The bearded 50-year-old Ahmed Laidouni had been jailed for seven years back in 2004 for his part in recruiting fighters for Afghanistan. During that trial he denied having attended paramilitary training camps in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

After serving that sentence he is believed to have travelled to Syria and joined up with the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nosra Front between 2012 and 2014.

One of his associates there, fellow French-Algerian Slimane Khalfaoui was convicted over a plot to bomb Strasbourg Christmas market in 2004.

Laidouni has “held a deadly ideology” from more than 20 years, the prosecutor said.