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A senior al-Qaeda operative who hid from Interpol in the city of Niigata for more than a year made phone calls to two Japanese and 11 foreign Muslim men in Japan after he left the country last year, investigative sources said.

The latest investigations into Lionel Dumont, a 33-year-old French national of Algerian descent, revealed that the two Japanese — a man in Yokohama’s Hodogaya Ward and a woman in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture — were among the 13 people Dumont called.

This is the first time details about the identities of the 13 have been made public.

The investigations show that Dumont, who was arrested in Germany last December, entered Japan on July 17, 2002, from Singapore with a forged French passport under the name Tinet Gerald Camille Armand.

His last exit from Japan, to Malaysia, was on Sept. 14, 2003. Records show he made a few trips to Germany and Malaysia during his stay in Japan.

Investigators are now investigating the Muslim men, their relationships with Dumont and their possible links with al-Qaeda. Many of them are married to Japanese and sell used cars, the sources said.

While in Niigata, Dumont was also a used-car dealer.

When Dumont made phone calls to the 11 men, they were living in a number of different locations, including Meguro, Shinjuku and Shibuya wards in Tokyo, sources said.

The sources said he also called Toda, Saitama Prefecture, Maebashi, Takasaki and Isesaki in Gunma Prefecture, Niigata and Toyosaka in Niigata Prefecture, and Shiojiri, Nagano Prefecture.

The 11 men come from Pakistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Guinea, where Muslims are a majority, the sources said, adding that most of them entered Japan in the mid-1990s or later.

Investigative sources also said Dumont opened a postal savings account under the name of Tinet and frequently remitted money to four or five of the 11 Muslim men.

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