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France: 10 charged over anti-Muslim terror plot

29th Jun 2018
France: 10 charged over anti-Muslim terror plot

By Hajer M’tiri

 

PARIS (AA): French prosecutors have charged 10 far-right extremists with criminal terrorist conspiracy over a terrorist plot to attack Muslims, who they called “enemy within” French media reported on Thursday.

Among the nine men and one woman arrested in raids across France on Saturday is a 65-year-old retired police officer, believed to be the group’s leader, along with his wife and an ex-soldier, according to French daily Le Figaro.

The suspects had an “ill-defined plan to commit a violent act targeting people of the Muslim faith,” Le Figaro quoted a source close to the investigation as saying

The terrorists were arrested in raids across France, in the Paris area, the Mediterranean island of Corsica and the western Charentes-Maritimes region

Age 32 to 69, they were also charged with violations of firearms laws and the manufacture or possession of explosive devices.

Large number of rifles, handguns, homemade grenades, thousands of rounds of ammunition  and items used in the manufacture of TATP explosives were found during the raids in the Paris area, the Mediterranean island of Corsica, and the western Charentes-Maritimes region.

The suspects were planning to target “Muslim women wearing hijabs in the street chosen at random, imams, and Islamist prisoners after their release from jail,” according to French broadcaster TF1.

The 10 are believed to be part of a radical right-wing group called Operational Forces Action or AFO, which works to incite French people to combat Muslims, calling them “the enemy within.”

On its website “Guerre de France” (War for France), the AFO says that it is training French “soldier-citizens” for a fight on French territory.

There was a similar wave of arrests last October in which the suspected targets were believed to be refugees and mosques.

“I’m not surprised by these arrests because the current climate of Islamophobia encourages this sort of passage from words to deeds,” said Abdallah Zekri of the French Council of the Muslim Faith after the arrests.

The council said it was particularly worried about the security of the country’s roughly 2,500 mosques.

France registered 72 violent anti-Muslim acts last year, up from 67 in 2016.

France is home to an estimated 5.7 million Muslims, almost 9 percent of the population, according to a report late last year by U.S.-based think-tank the Pew Research Center.

Additional report from The Muslim News

[Archive photo:  Great Mosque in Paris. Photgrapher: Onur Usta/AA]

 

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