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Three arrested in France on charges of ‘conspiring to fight Islamist danger’

Two men and one woman were indicted on Friday, July 27, for "terrorist criminal conspiracy" as part of the investigation into the activities of the French AFO group. They are believed to have wanted to fight "against the Islamist danger".

Published: July 28, 2018, 9:18 am

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    These three persons were placed under judicial supervision, as requested by the prosecution. They were arrested on Monday during operations conducted by the General Directorate of Internal Security (DGSI) in the Hauts-de-Seine and Creuse.

    The investigators questioned their possible role in the small group Action des Forces Operationnelles (AFO) targeted last June by a large investigation into a growing anti-Islam network. According to the investigation, this group had mentioned plans to attack radical Islamists leaving prison as well as radical mosques.

    Ten of the alleged members, including the likely leader, a retired policeman who intended to “harden the action” of the group, were indicted on June 27, including for “criminal terrorist criminal conspiracy”. Four of them, including the alleged leader of the small group, had been released on judicial review following the prosecutor’s opinion. Four of the group members was detained on remand.

    Thirty-six firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition were found during searches of suspects, as well as elements “involved in the manufacture of TATP-type explosives”, according to the prosecutor’s office, which had opened its investigation in mid-April.

    “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 first wave of arrests last month.

    Meanwhile, one of the men advising President Emmanuel Macron in his reorganisation of Islam in France, Hakim El Karoui, who had conducted an extensive survey into the Muslim faith in 2016, supported plans by the government to promote a more moderate Islam. The results of his survey had revealed that 28 percent of the country’s Muslims espoused jihad, a figure that rose to 50 percent for those under 25.

    Efforts by French law enforcement to detain such radical Islamists have met with violent protests however.

    DJ Marwan Muhammad in London at a conference against racism, 2012. Wikipedia

    A popular amateur DJ Marwan Muhammad has seized the initiative from El Karoui and Macron of setting up a religious Muslim state organisation by launching his own “Grand Consultation” among France’s estimated six million Muslims. Muhammad received 20 000 responses in one week alone.

    Muhammad, a former director of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France, has been described as the “Malcolm X of French Muslims”. Last month he made headlines by launching a vigorous defence of the controversial “Islamo-scum” rapper, Médine.

    The newspaper Le Figaro reported that Médine — named after Medina, the city from which the founder of Islam launched his conquest of Arabia — would perform at the Bataclan theater, where jihadis in November 2015 killed 89 people.

    Médine’s lyrics are well-known for their hatred towards non-Muslims. On receiving the news, Marine Le Pen tweeted: “No Frenchman can accept that this person is able to spew his filth on the very place of the carnage of the Bataclan. Complacency or, worse, incitement to Islamist fundamentalism, that’s enough!”

    Laurent Wauquiez, the president of the Republicans, called the announcement a “sacrilege for the victims, dishonor for France.” But Prime Minister Édouard Philippe fearing a backlash of Muslims, said because of his “scrupulous respect” for free speech, the concert would be allowed, AFP reported.

    At a dinner held by French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) after Ramadan, Philippe and Interior Minister Gérard Collomb nevertheless issued a call to Muslim leaders to fight fundamentalism. “Everyone feels,” Philippe said, “that we are living a crucial moment for our country, for the quality of our life in common.”

    Last month the City of Paris unveiled bulletproof glass walls and metal fences designed to protect the Eiffel Tower from jihadist attacks. The security measures will cost nearly €35 million with glass panels measuring 6.5 centimeters running along two sides of the tower, according

    The glass will also be resistant to vehicle-ramming attacks. The other two sides of the famous tower will be fenced off with 3-meter heavy metal barriers.

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