The French have detained several apparent Islamist terrorist wannabes before they could make their way to Iraq.
A total of 11 suspected Islamic militants have been detained in Paris this week by intelligence agents who believe they have foiled an operation to send volunteers to fight against the US army in Iraq, officials said.
Four young men arrested early yesterday were being held at the headquarters of the domestic intelligence service DST, along with six of the seven people detained on Monday in an high-immigration neighborhood in the northeast of the capital.
One of two women detained on Monday was released yesterday morning, police said.
The identities of the detainees were not disclosed, but officials said that eight of the nine men — all aged between 20 and 24 — were of north African, mainly Algerian, origin with French nationality and all born in Paris. The other was a French convert to Islam.
They were arrested as part of an anti-terrorist investigation launched last September after evidence emerged of a so-called “Iraqi network” recruiting Islamic militants to fight US forces there.
One of those held is considered by police to be a recruiter of young men willing to fight in Iraq. He was described as the brother-in-law of a a member of a terrorist group which was dismantled on the eve of the 1998 football World Cup which France hosted.
Two of his charges were said to be on the point of leaving for Iraq.
“At the moment it would be wrong to speak of organised networks like there were with Afghanistan,” said a senior official.
“But we are determined to stop young people going to make jihad in Iraq because if they come back they will have greatly enhanced prestige, and be in a position to recruit more people to the cause — or even mount terrorist operations,” he said on condition of anonymity.
Couple this with the recent bust in Germany of two suspected al-Qaida members and tell me Europe doesn’t have a problem. It seems, however, that the Euros are only willing to treat the symptoms rather than actually tackling the disease.