France foils suspected IS plot directed from abroad
FIVE men charged in France with planning an attack in the Paris area were directed from the Islamic State group’s heartland.
Police arrested seven men and seized weapons in raids in the cities of Strasbourg and Marseille earlier this month.
Two of the suspects were later released but the other five – four Frenchmen and a Moroccan – were charged and remanded in custody by antiterrorism judges on November 25, the prosecutor’s office said.
“The break-up of this network has protected us against a major attack,” said President Francois Hollande.
France has been under a state of emergency since January 2015 when Islamist extremists carried out the first of three large-scale attacks that have left 238 people dead.
Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said items seized in Strasbourg included written documents showing “clear allegiance” to IS and “glorifying death and martyrdom”.
“The Strasbourg commando unit, but also the individual arrested in Marseille, were in possession of common instructions ... sent by a coordinator from the Iraqi-Syrian region via encrypted applications,” he said.
Investigators established that the Strasbourg cell was planning an attack on December 1 on one of a number of possible targets, although police have so far been “unable to determine the exact one”.
A police source said the cell’s members researched “a dozen sites” online including the Christmas market on the Champs-Elysees, the Disneyland Paris theme park, cafe terraces in the northeast of the capital, the Paris police headquarters and a metro station.
The suspects were “in possession of or in search of weapons and financing” and were “looking for targets”, Mr Molins said.
One of the suspects told police that an attack was planned, and mentioned the police headquarters and the internal intelligence agency DGSI outside the capital. –