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France arrests six suspected of recruiting female jihadists

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Six people have been arrested near Lyon on suspicions of recruiting young women to join the Islamist militant groups fighting in Syria, France’s top security official said Wednesday.


Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the arrests were made on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings in the Lyon area in central France.

According to a police source, a brother and a sister were among those detained, with one of the suspects linked to Forsane Alizza (Knights of Pride), an Islamist extremist group that has called for France to become an Islamic caliphate. The group was banned in 2012.

Young French men and women make up the largest contingent of European jihadists fighting in Syria, with authorities saying some 930 French citizens or residents are involved in waging jihad.

About 2,000 Europeans are believed to be fighting in Iraq and Syria. Security officials fear they will use their jihadist training to launch attacks on home soil after returning to Europe on their European passports.

A Frenchman who fought with the Islamic State group in Syria is suspected of launching an attack on a Jewish museum in Brussels in May, killing four people.

France has drafted a law aimed at stopping aspiring jihadists from travelling, which includes a ban on foreign travel for up to six months for individuals suspected of radicalisation and gives the authorities the power to confiscate and invalidate their passports temporarily.

Cazeneuve said this week that at least 70 people had been prevented from leaving after the authorities received around 350 alerts about would-be jihadists.

Cazeneuve unveiled some 20 measures in April designed to stem the flow of French citizens to Syria, ranging from increased monitoring of Islamist websites to threats of revoking French nationality.

France also launched a jihad "hotline" that people are encouraged to call if they suspect a friend or family member is planning to travel abroad to wage jihad or is in danger of becoming radicalised.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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