|France to free suspected Islamist terrorists|
|PARIS: French police were expected to release without charge on Friday the last six of 10 suspected Islamic |
French officials said on Wednesday the
He said the
|French Court Charges 'Jihadist' Group|
|Members of Forsane Alizza>Forsane Alizza, or Knights of Pride, are charged with "criminal association linked to terrorist network".|
Preliminary charges have been filed against 13 suspects in , a prosecutor has announced, saying some had been calling for Sharia law in the country, stashing weapons and hatching plots, one to kidnap a judge.
Prosecutor Francois Molins told a news conference on Tuesday that members of the Forsane Alizza, or Knights of Pride, received physical training in parks and forests around 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 , the
application of the Sharia and incited s to unite to prepare for civil war", Molins said.
The site, which also showed clips of late al-Qaeda leader was shut down after authorities banned Forsane Alizza in March.
The charges handed down against some members of Forsane Alizza come amid a crackdown on hard-liners following the March killing spree in southern by a 23-year-old claiming links to al-Qaeda. The suspected gunman, Mohammed Merah, was killed after a 32-hour standoff with police.
President said Tuesday on Canal Plus TV that there is now "zero tolerance" for hate speech and ideologies which do not conform to the values of .
"You will see that in the weeks to come we will continue this absolutely systematic work of assuring the protection of the French by not tolerating such activities," Sarkozy said of the Forsane Alizza group.
The 13, among 17 suspects in police raids last week, faced preliminary charges of criminal association linked to a terrorist network, a sweeping charge with a maximum 10-year prison term that is used in to ensure a full investigation of terror suspects.
Nine of the 13 are being , Molins said. The other four must report regularly to police. Charges of acquiring, transporting and detention of arms also were issued. The remaining four of the 17 who had been were being released.
The prosecutor said several terror plans appeared to be in the works, including the kidnapping of a judge in Lyon, in southeast . An official close to the investigation said the targeted judge is Jewish.
Molins said the investigation, which formally opened in late October, showed the network was organized around Forsane Alizza leader Mohammed Achamlane, who is from the Nantes region in western .
"All the suspects confirmed Mohammed Achamlane's role of leader, coordinator and emir and his constant concern about acquiring weapons," Molins said.
Molins said the alleged plan to kidnap a magistrate who dealt with a child abuse case on a member of the Lyon cell was hatched at a September meeting.
The magistrate in question has been placed under police protection.
Other potential targets included people from groups that have spoken out against the community, the prosecutor said without elaboration.
It was not known whether this was a reference to groups actively seeking to protect French identity and decrying what they claim is the Islamicisation of .
Such groups are gaining strength around , and have been joined by far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.
Achamlane's lawyer later denied his client was involved in preparing terrorist acts, saying "there is no material act, no material incident constituting preparation of an act of terrorism, or even kidnapping".
Attorney Philippe Missamou claimed the reference to kidnapping of a judge was made at a public meeting of the group and others protesting an investigating magistrate's handling of the child abuse case, and blaming it on "injustice" because the group member was .
The prosecutor said police found stashes of weapons during their raids last Friday in the region and the cities of Nantes, Marseille, Nice, and Toulouse, as well as documents and computer equipment. The probe so far has shown that members had consulted internet sites showing how to make explosives, Molins said.
The prosecutor stressed the group had no link to the three attacks last month around Toulouse that left seven people dead, three paratroopers, a rabbi and three Jewish school children.
|Arrested French Islamists 'planned kidnappings'|
| - Some of the 16 suspected Islamic in allegedly planned to kidnap a Jewish magistrate and other people, a source close to the investigation said on Tuesday.|
"It looks like some of them planned to carry out kidnappings including that of a magistrate who has a Jewish-sounding name," the source said.
Another source confirmed that a Jewish magistrate from Lyon in central was to be targeted.
The head of 's Central Directorate for Domestic Intelligence (DCRI), Bernard Squarcini, said on Saturday that those the previous day were involved in "collective war-like training, linked to a violent, religious indoctrination".
Some of those belonged to a suspected group called Forsane Alizza, he said, and had been involved in paintball gun games.
Forsane Alizza chief Mohamed Achamlane was on Monday transferred to where he was to appear before anti-terror magistrates who already extended the custody of 15 other suspected Islamists on Friday.
French anti-terrorism legislation allows for suspects to be held for four days, or until Tuesday.
Three of the 19 people on Friday have already been released, and those still could be charged later on Tuesday. prosecutor Francois Molins was to hold a at about midday on Tuesday.
The alleged were netted in anti-terrorist swoops in different French cities a week after self-confessed al-Qaeda Mohamed Merah was following his killing spree in which he killed seven people.
The French opposition has criticised the presence of television news cameras during the arrests as the images could be seen to bolster the chances of right-wing President re-election later this month.
|French Police: Detained Islamists Plotted Kidnap|
|[AFP] Seventeen people by French police in a crackdown on suspected Islamist networks might have been plotting a kidnap, the head of the police intelligence's unit said Saturday.|
"They appeared to be preparing a kidnap," Bernard Squarcini of the Central Directorate for Domestic Intelligence (DCRI) told La Provence newspaper.
He did not elaborate on the alleged plot, but said the group was made up of " " who were involved in "collective war-like training, linked to a violent, religious indoctrination."
Some of those belonged to a suspected group called Forsane Alizza,
"The group was dissolved as of February 29 and the funds of 26 of its members were frozen, but they continued to carry out physical training exercises in parks and woods and sought weapons," Squarcini told the Marseille-based newspaper. They were involved in paintball gun games, he said.
The arrests on Friday took place in several cities, including Toulouse, where gunman Mohamed Merah was by police last week after a series of cold-blooded shootings that left seven dead, including three Jewish children.
French President said the arrests were not directly linked to the Merah case, but he has called on police to increase its surveillance of "radical Islam" in what the opposition has described as a vote-catching move just a month ahead of a presidential election.
In the course of the latest arrests, police recovered "several computers, sim cards, weapons, money, 10,000 euros in small notes, four Kalashnikov rifles, eight rifles, seven or eight handguns, a taser, tear gas grenades," Squarcini said.
Those were still being held on remand Saturday, police said.
|France nabs at least 17 Islamists in raids across the country|
|French police have arrested at least 17 people early Friday morning over suspected links to militant Islamist circles in several cities across the country, including Nantes, Le Mans, Toulouse, and the suburbs of Paris.|
Delage said it was still too early to say if there was a direct link between Friday's arrests and the Merah case. "Further investigation and questioning of the suspects will reveal more information in the hours to come," he said.
Friday's raids in Toulouse were concentrated in the suburb of Mirail. According to the website of Le Monde, the arrests led to the seizure of three Kalashnikovs, a pistol and a grenade, along with other arms.
Police also conducted raids in the western city of Nantes, home to the leaders of Forsane Alizza>Forsane Alizza (Knights of Pride), a banned Islamist organization that French media reports have linked to Merah. According to one source, the arrests included Forsane Alizza's leader, Mohammed Achamlane.
Forsane Alizza was banned on February 29, 2012, by French Interior Minister, Claude Gueant. The group has been known for its provocative demonstrations, such as last year's protests against a French ban on worshippers praying in the streets.
According to researcher Jean-Yves Camus, Forsane Alizza is a group comprised mainly of young people who have been recently radicalized. He said, "Members of Forsane Alizza espouse jihadism and Salafism, but they have very little knowledge of Islam. They are primarily an attention-seeking group that wants to get noticed."
Forsane Alizza first made news in June 2010, when ten of its members organized a boycott of McDonald's in the central French city of Limoges, calling the US company a "slave of Israel". A few months ago also, the group burned copies of France's civil codes to protest the law banning the burqa.
|France Accuses Domestic Islamists of Training for Violence|
|[An Nahar] French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said on Monday he had ordered a domestic Islamist group to disband, accusing it of training its members for "armed struggle".|
Speaking on a visit to Mantes-la-Jolie in northwestern , Gueant said: "It is unacceptable in our country that groups train people for armed struggle, for any opportunity for anti-establishment terrorism to present itself."
A for the group, known as Forsane Alizza or "the Knights of Pride", denied any involvement in violence, and accused the minister of justifying his order through "pure slander and defamation".
The official Forsane Alizza website urges supporters to attend a series of meetings planned in eight major French cities on Wednesday this week to recruit people "with all skills, but especially soldiers".
"In effect we have, thanks to God, brothers and sisters with all sorts of skills in our ranks and it is more brothers on the ground that we need this time," the message explained.
"So if you enjoy martial arts and can turn up quickly when we call on you, then your profile is what we are looking for, if God wills it," continues the site, which any web-user can view and is not encrypted.
Written in French and Arabic, the site describes its goals as: "Prayer for Allah, prayer for monotheism, prayer for jihad and prayer for the caliphate."
"We reject the entire 'democratic' system. It is out of the question to support anyone of any kind that stands in any election. We support our brother mujahedeen wherever they are in the world," the site declares.
The Forsane Alizza , Mohammed Achamlane, confirmed to Agence Presse that he had received an order from the interior ministry demanding that his movement be dissolved and giving him 10 days to respond.
He denied that the use of the term "soldiers" for recruits was a sign of violent intent, said: "The word 'soldier' is also used by singers. It doesn't automatically mean an armed soldier in a military uniform."
Forsane Alizza is thought to be a small group but it has a history of public protest. In July 2010 a group of masked demonstrated outside a French branch of fast food chain McDonald's, accusing it of backing Israel.
Achamlane has received suspended prison terms for his role in some protests and in promoting the group online. Last year, he publicly burned a copy of the French penal code in protest at a law banning full-face Islamic veils.