Image: Japanese investigator with man suspected of terrorism links.
Kyodo via AP
A Bangladeshi man who police identified as Ahmed Faishal is led by investigators from his residence in Kawaguchi, on the outskirts of Tokyo, on Wednesday, as Japanese police conduct anti-terror raids.
updated 5/26/2004 7:28:17 AM ET 2004-05-26T11:28:17

Japanese police raided homes and businesses linked to a Frenchman suspected of al-Qaida connections and arrested five people, stepping up action in a case that has raised concerns about Japan’s vulnerability to terrorists.

Investigators searched 10 locations around Japan on Wednesday, including Tokyo and the northern city of Niigata where Lionel Dumont, a French citizen with a history of violent crime, worked as a car salesman in Japan in 2002-2003.

Dozens of investigators flooded office buildings, businesses and apartments in early morning searches, and police said that raids continued throughout the day at the homes of the five people taken into custody at related sites.

Police arrested three Bangladeshi men, a Malian man, and an Indian citizen. Four were taken into custody on suspicion they violated Japanese immigration laws, and one of the Bangledeshis was accused of falsifying documents.

Dumont, extradited to France last week, is believed to have entered Japan with a fake French passport in July 2002. He reportedly made several trips to Europe and Asia before leaving Japan the last time for Malaysia in September 2003.

Japan fears it may be targeted
His story has fanned fears that Japan could be a target for terrorist attack. Tokyo has been a firm backer of the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and has dispatched hundreds of troops to southern Iraq on a humanitarian mission.

French authorities have long linked Dumont to the violent Roubaix gang in northern France, which investigators suspect of cooperation with Islamic radicals. Dumont’s acquaintances in Japan describe him as a devout Muslim.

Dumont was convicted of a string of violent crimes by a French court in absentia in 2001 and sentenced to life in prison; he escaped a Bosnian prison after being convicted in the killing of a police officer and sentenced to 20 years. Dumont was arrested in Germany in December.

Dumont is believed to have provided money and equipment to Islamic radicals, including al-Qaida, and may have been in Japan to set up a terror cell, local media have reported, citing Japanese investigative sources.

Kyodo News service reported on Friday that phone records show he continued to make phone calls to acquaintances in Japan after leaving.

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