Ten arrested in latest French raids
Targets of raids described as “self-radicalised individuals” with “similar profiles” to Toulouse gunman Mohammed Merah.
Police in France have arrested 10 more people in early morning raids in a continuing clampdown in the wake of a spate of killings by an al-Qaeda-inspired gunman last month.
Wednesday’s arrests happened in the southern cities of Marseille and Valence, two towns in the southwest and in the northeastern town of Roubaix, a police source told the Reuters news agency.
The raids followed the arrest of 19 people on March 30, a week after police snipers shot dead Mohammed Merah, who killed three Jewish school children, a rabbi and three soldiers in a spate of attacks around Toulouse.
“Those arrested have a similar profile to Mohammed Merah,” a local police source said. “They are isolated individuals, who are self-radicalised.”
Wednesday’s raids were not linked to either those arrests or the Merah attacks, the source said.
He said the suspects were tracked on Islamist forums expressing extreme views and said they were preparing to travel to areas including Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Sahel belt to wage “jihad”, or holy war.
Some of those arrested had already been and returned to France, the source said.
Sarkozy, who is facing an uphill battle to be re-elected president in elections later this month, has vowed to root out any form of theat following Merah’s killing spree.
Thirteen of the 19 people arrested last Friday are alleged to have links to radical French group Forsane Alizza, or Knights of Pride, with some being investigated on suspicion of terrorism, the Paris public prosecutor said on Tuesday.
Prosecutor Francois Molins told a news conference on Tuesday that members of the Forsane Alizza received physical training in parks and forests around Paris and religious indoctrination “in order to take part in a jihad”, or holy war.
The group preached hate and violence on their internet site which “called for an Islamic caliphate in France, the
application of the Sharia and incited Muslims to unite to prepare for civil war”, Molins said.