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France opens terror probe after raids on Islamist suspects


France

France opens terror probe after raids on Islamist suspects

Fears over radical Islam have gripped France again, amid claims that suspected militants had discussed plans to kidnap a Jewish judge.

Preliminary charges are being filed againt 13 Islamist suspects arrested last week.

The Paris Prosecutor said the case has nothing to do with that of gunman Mohamed Merah, at the centre of last month’s killing spree in Toulouse.

“The protagonists of these two cases have never met each other,” François Molins told reporters.

He said investigations into the activities of the banned Forsane Alizza or ‘Knights of Pride’ Islamist group, currently in the spotlight, began months earlier.

France has deported two suspected extremists and may expel others as internal security gets a bigger profile ahead of this month’s presidential election.

“It is astonishing that, all of a sudden, as if by coincidence, one week after the Merah case, five imams are found to be dangerous and presenting a big threat to state security,” said International Rights lawyer Joseph Breham, speaking in Paris.

French police commandos arrested 19 suspected Islamist militants in raids on Friday, saying that a number of weapons were seized. Of those still in custody, 13 are formally being put under investigation on suspicion of terrorist activities.

According to the prosecutor, the suspects had at one time discussed the possibility of kidnapping a judge in the city of Lyon.

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