The two men arrested in connection to criminal activity concerning a terrorist attack have been identified as Dr. Adlene Hicheur, a nuclear scientist/physicist employed by CERN Labs, and his brother Dr. Halim Hicheur.
Some reports say the younger brother, Halim Hicheur, has been released. Other reports say the two are detained at a high security facility near Paris. Adlene Hicheur is 32 and his brother is 25. Adlene Hicheur is considered "very high level" and is believed to have had several contacts with the al-Qaeda organization, Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a North African wing of al-Qaeda. This report says that Adlene Hicheur has "admitted" discussions with al-Qaeda based in North Africa, said the "admission" came as his younger brother was released from police custody.
A former colleague in the UK said: "He was a quiet guy and very serious. He never socialised in Oxford and spent all his time working. He was very intelligent and obviously has specialised knowledge of nuclear physics and so would be well placed to help terrorists with a dirty bomb or nuclear attack."
Adlene Hicheur is a French citizen, according to FOXNews. The nuclear physicist, now known as "the big bang scientist" worked for CERN Labs at the Federal Polytechnic Institute in Lausanne, Switzerland, according to this report.
A source at CERN added: "It's quite likely that he had access to the experimental zones rather than just the office and academic areas."
Intelligence sources said Hicheur had expressed a "wish, a desire" to carry out a terrorist attack but had "not committed material preparatory acts".The following information is a synopsis of some of the work at CERN, and is from my original post before the men were identified.
Cern is famous for the development of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC):
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a gigantic scientific instrument near Geneva, where it spans the border between Switzerland and France about 100 m underground. It is a particle accelerator used by physicists to study the smallest known particles – the fundamental building blocks of all things. It will revolutionise our understanding, from the minuscule world deep within atoms to the vastness of the Universe.The LHC, lies deep feet beneath the ground under the border of France and Switzerland in a tunnel, and is scheduled to be operational in November 2009. It is sometimes dubbed "the greatest physics experiment in the world."
Two beams of subatomic particles called 'hadrons' – either protons or lead ions – will travel in opposite directions inside the circular accelerator, gaining energy with every lap. Physicists will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang, by colliding the two beams head-on at very high energy. Teams of physicists from around the world will analyse the particles created in the collisions using special detectors in a number of experiments dedicated to the LHC.
Beyond the LHC, CERN says it is one of the world's "largest and most respected centres for scientific research," and "its business is fundamental physics...." CERN stands for Conseil Europeen pour la Recherche Nucleaire or European Council for Nuclear Research." This site says that although CERN has "never been involved in research on nuclear power or nuclear weapons...."
I'll have updates here as we learn more about Drs. Adlene and Halim Hicheur.