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L’HOUSSAINE KHERCHTOU

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* L’Houssaine  Kherchtou was born in Morocco in 1964. He immigrated to Milan, Italy, in the mid 80s’.L’Houssaine  Kherchtou was recruited to Islamic militancy through the Islamic Cultural Institute in Milan, Italy, by Anwar Shaaban and sent to Afghanistan for training probably in 1991. Later, when interrogated by the FBI, he identified Khaled al-Fawaz as one of the leading figures in Abu Bakr Sadeeq camp, near Khost, Afghanistan, then under Taliban control.

After Afghanistan L’Houssaine  Kherchtou moved, probably in 1993, to Somalia and fought with the Islamists against USA following operation Restoring Hope and the battle in Mogadishu in 10/1993.

From Somalia L’Houssaine  Kherchtou moved to Sudan. In early 1996 L’Houssaine  Kherchtou disobeyed Al Qaeda’s plan to relocate to Afghanistan, claiming he was concerned about the education his children would receive in such a country. Instead L’Houssaine  Kherchtou moved to Kenya where he established relations with Sheikh al-Liby and Ali Mohammed. In mid 1996, he was approached by the Moroccan and British MI6 intelligence services who attempted to recruit him as an informant in the inner circle of Al Qaeda in East Africa. Anas al-Liby used Kherchtou’s apartment as base of surveillance operations in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital.  Eventually L’Houssaine  Kherchtou provided information to the MI6. He was named “Joe the Moroccan”.

L’Houssaine  Kherchtou was arrested in Nairobi international airport when he attempted to leave Kenya shortly after the 08/07/1998 attack on the USA embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He was handed over to the British MI6 while the FBI was looking for clues about the attack.

Eventually L’Houssaine  Kherchtou was handed over to the USA in summer 2000. He fully cooperated with the investigation and helped to uncover the infrastructure and the modus operandi of Al Qaeda in East Africa at a time when the US knews comparatively little about Al Qaeda, although he had no direct knowledge about the embassies attack.

L’Houssaine  Kherchtou testified, on 02/21/2001, during the trial of suspected Al Qaida militants in connection with the 08/07/1998 bombings. After the trial, in 02/2001, he was granted entry into the USA witness protection program.
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