5 given preliminary charges over jihadi network in France
PARIS (AP) French authorities filed preliminary charges on Saturday against five men allegedly implicated in a jihadi recruiting network based in a small southern town from where about 20 youths went to fight in Syria and Iraq.
Preliminary charges of criminal association involving a plot to carry out terrorist acts were filed against the men, aged 26 to 44, several of whom were from the town of Lunel, between Nimes and Montpellier, Paris prosecutor's office spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre said. The nature of the plot in question wasn't immediately clear. The men were detained last week in raids.
Authorities say six people from the town of Lunel have been killed in Iraq and Syria in recent months, out of around 20 thought to have departed for jihad. Lunel has a population of about 26,000, making the concentration of jihadis particularly high, and suspicious.
"One more network was broken up today," Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Tuesday after the raids.
France has put about 3,000 people under surveillance since the January attacks on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery store that left 17 people dead, a figure that includes two police officers. The three attackers were killed.
Authorities have given no indication of a connection between the suspects just charged and the Paris attacks. Preliminary charges allow for further investigation after which the suspects are either definitively charged or freed from all suspicion.