The French authorities charged with assessing security risks at Charles de Gaulle airport have stripped 72 Muslim workers of their security clearance, but about a dozen other suspected workers are still employed in the most restricted areas, according to a government security official and airport workers.
Some terrorism experts are asking why the government has not moved faster to suspend access for employees who may constitute a security risk, especially since details have emerged about some of the suspended workers. Several of them are suspected of having trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and one was friends with the ''shoe bomber,'' according to the security official in charge of the case.
Some of those suspended have sued, complaining they were unfairly targeted, and labor unions have taken up their case. Others, notified more than a month ago that they might lose their security clearance, are still waiting for a summons from the authorities and hope to retain their access badges.
One is Hassane Tariqui, 37, a French citizen of Moroccan origin who supervises cleaners inside passenger planes, most of them bound for the United States. On Sept. 21, he received a letter from the authorities informing him that his attitude and personal behavior posed a risk to airport security.
But he still has his job, cleaning planes for Air France, Delta, Continental and American. On Monday, he said, he was on five U.S.-bound planes.
''If they really think I am a security risk, why am I still allowed to work here?'' said Tariqui, who has been employed for 16 years at Charles de Gaulle, France's main international airport.
Labor unions say that since April about 90 Muslim employees at the airport received letters identical to the one sent to Tariqui.
Investigators have had Charles de Gaulle under scrutiny for signs of Islamic radicalism for some time. The airport, north of Paris, is situated near troubled suburbs where rioting erupted last year. Unions estimate that at least one-fifth of its 83,000 employees are Muslim.
Jacques Lebrot, the official in charge of the investigation, said in an interview that some of the employees who had received the letter were still working because French law required him to give them an opportunity to respond before he could take away their accreditation, and it took time to summon them all.
All of the men who received the letter came to the attention of the French intelligence services in an anti-terrorist inquiry at French airports ordered by the Interior Ministry in May 2005, Lebrot said, and 72 had their security clearance canceled after questioning. He said an additional 68 who had been investigated had been cleared and never received the letter.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Homeland Security Department, Joanna Gonzalez, declined to comment, saying the matter fell under French jurisdiction.
Lebrot, deputy prefect in the Seine-Saint-Denis district where the airport is located, said the letters had targeted employees suspected of links with movements or people who rejected ''France and our values,'' or who were suspected of having traveled to countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some who lost their accreditation are believed to have spent time in terrorist training camps and extremist Islamic schools in the two countries, Lebrot said, without giving details.
One employee, he said, was found to have been a friend of Richard Reid, a London-born convert to Islam who tried to blow up a flight from Paris to Miami in December 2001 using explosives hidden in his shoes. Reid is serving a life sentence in Colorado.
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