A terrorist plot to blow up an El Al jet at Geneva airport with an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) in 12/2005 was uncovered by the Swiss and French intelligence agencies.

 The plot was uncovered following an investigation of the Swiss police after a gang of North Africans, who broke into houses and forged credit cards in Geneva and elsewhere. While monitoring the group, the police intercepted talks about purchasing a RPG launcher from Russia and rockets in order to attack an Israeli El Al airliner in Geneva airport. When the matter was reported to Israeli security, El Al changed the flight of all its Geneva-bound planes, landing them at Zurich Airport the following week.

The police recruited Claude Covassi, 34, who converted to Islam in early 2004, to penetrate into the gang. He befriended the head of the Algerian Islamic center in GenevaHani Ramadan. Claude Covassi met in the Geneva Mosque a young Algerian man named Bassam, who revealed to him a plot to attack an El Al plane. Phone and email taps of the terrorists revealed that they had planned to smuggle an RPG-7 rocket from Russia and fire it at the plane. 

 It was not an organized terror cell but rather an independent group. They did have someone with experience, who provided them with support, the Swiss police concluded. Swiss officials reported that no arrests were made following the discovery, in 12/2005, since the plan had yet to reach its final operational stages.

According to the Swiss newspaper NZZ, on 05/23/2006, the Office of the Prosecutor of the Swiss Confederation has made several arrests of alleged Islamist terrorists. Among the detainees were Bassam, his associate to the El Al Plot, a Libyan known as Bader, and five others.  They are said to belong to the Algerian Salafist Group – GSPC, linked to Al Qaeda. Some of the detainees were carrying arms during the arrest, while the others are suspected of conspiracy.

After the plot was uncovered, including the role of Claude Covassi, he came under immense pressure from the Geneva Muslim Community. Claude Covassi apologized to Hani Ramadan for, allegedly, betraying him. He fled to Syria and in 06/2006 moved to Egypt.

* Hani Ramadan is the brother of Tarik Ramadan, who was denied entry into the USA, in 07/2004, after being given a professorship at the University of Notre Dame, because of terrorism ties and labeled a threat to national security.

* Related topics –

07/2002 -El-Al LA ATTACK



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