French terror cell planned to join 'jihadists in Syria'
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The Paris prosecutor said Thursday that he will be seeking “attempted murder” and “terrorism charges” against seven of the suspects arrested Saturday. He also said the cell was potentially the most dangerous established in France in over a decade.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins confirmed at a press conference Thursday that some of the 12 suspected cell members arrested over the weekend had plans to join jihadists in Syria.
Molins also told the banks of reporters that he will be seeking “attempted murder” and “terrorism charges” against the suspects.
The Paris prosecutor’s office earlier reported that five of the 12 people had been released.
Underlining the importance of the case, Molins said the group was potentially the most dangerous established in France in over a decade.
The press conference comes a day after police discovered bomb-making materials in an underground car park near Paris.
Investigators searched lock-up garages in the town of Torcy, near Paris, after an anti-terror raid on Saturday ended with police shooting dead Islamist suspect Jérémie Louis-Sidney, who has been linked to a grenade attack on a Jewish supermarket last month. The September 19 attack on the market in Sarcelles, outside Paris, shattered windows and injured a customer at the store. Two attackers fled.
Louis-Sidney died in a hail of bullets on Saturday after opening fire on police as they stormed his apartment in Strasbourg, north-eastern France.
Molins said on Saturday that all the arrested suspects were French and recent converts to Islam.
Four of the men involved in the raid had written wills, while one was carrying a loaded gun when arrested.
Molins said a shotgun, a revolver, bags of potassium nitrate, sulphur and a pressure cooker were discovered at a garage used by the suspect, at whose home police said they had also found a list of Jewish groups in the Paris area.
“These are all products used to make what we call improvised explosives,” he said.
Fear in the Jewish community
France’s Jewish community has been on edge after a series of attacks in recent months.
These have ranged from death threats against the chief rabbi of Lyon, to an attack – with a hammer and iron bars - on three young Jewish men.
In the worst incident, three Jewish children and a rabbi were among seven people shot dead in the southern city of Toulouse in March by al-Qaeda-inspired gunman Mohammed Mehra.
Last week, the French government said the terrorist threat remained high as it presented legislation that would allow allow police to arrest those believed to have been involved in terrorism-related activity outside French borders.
FRANCE 24 correspondent Florence Villeminot, speaking from the Paris prosecutors office on Wednesday, said that “this idea of home-grown terrorists” was “really worrying a lot of people here in France.”
Molins said the detention of the dozen suspects could be extended again by a further six days if necessary. Detention pending charges in France normally lasts no longer than four days.
(FRANCE24 with wires)