Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 February 2020

French police arrest seven for terror plot

Some of the suspects were on France's extremism monitoring list

A French soldier stands guard under the Eiffel Tower. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann 
A French soldier stands guard under the Eiffel Tower. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann 

Security forces in France have arrested seven men over a suspected terror attack.

The group were arrested in the western coastal city of Brest and the surrounding Finistere region by France's DGSI domestic intelligence agency.

Some of the men were on France's "Fiche S" list of potential security risks because of their links with Islamic extremists.

It is believed they were planning a terror attack in France and preparing to travel to conflict zones in Iraq and Syria.

Investigators said they will continue to determine how far the suspects had advanced in their plans for the attack and flight to the Middle East.

France has been on high alert since a wave of terror attacks in 2015 which have killed more than 250 people.

Dozens of French citizens left to join ISIS in Syria and Iraq before US-led coalition forces dislodged the insurgents from their so-called caliphate last year.

ISIS leaders also urged followers in France to stage attacks on their own, often targeting security forces, and officials have said the threat of further ISIS-inspired attacks remains high.

French officials say they have foiled several terror plots in recent months.

Last May, police arrested a 16-year-old in the eastern city of Strasbourg as part of investigations into a suspected plot to attack security forces and possibly the presidential Elysee Palace.

Three adults and a teenager were arrested several weeks earlier over plans to carry out what Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said would have been an "extremely violent terror attack".

Just over a year ago ISIS extremist Cherif Chekatt killed five people and wounded 11 others during a shooting and stabbing spree at Strasbourg’s Christmas market.

He had also been on the terror watchlist, known as Fiche S, when he committed the atrocity and is believed to have become radicalised in prison.

Questions have been raised over the effectiveness of the Fiche S scheme.

There are believed to be 20,000 people on the list, 12,000 for suspected Islamist radical behaviour, however only a dozen are thought to be under 24-hour surveillance.

Updated: January 21, 2020 05:42 PM

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