France: Extreme-right members arrested on suspicion of planning to attack Muslims
An extensive anti-terrorist operation by the French authorities late Saturday and early Sunday resulted in the arrest of 10 adherents of the extreme right who are suspected of preparing attacks against Muslim inhabitants in the country. Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported the news on Sunday, according to which the suspects created a secret group that was planning violent crimes.
The arrests reportedly happened in the area around Paris, in the city of Vienne south of Lyon, and in Corsica. The operation was conducted by the DGSI secret service and according to the French Interior Ministry was based on the surveillance of many people.
AFP reports that this is a rare case of French anti-terrorist activity focusing on the ultra-right. According to an unnamed source, the arrests intended to prevent "violent crimes of an as yet unspecified nature" targeting "persons of the Muslim religion".
Another person familiar with the investigation told AFP that the extremists wanted to target those they believed were connected to "radical Islam" for violent attack. According to the French television station LCI, the targets were to have been radical imams, Islamists released from prison, and randomly-selected veiled women.
The people who planned the attacks as part of a group called the AFO (Action des forces opérationnelles) reportedly do not correspond to the common ideas of who extremists are in France. Reportedly there are fathers and middle-aged men among them and most have no criminal past.
Communications intercepted by the DGSI, however, documented their intention to acquire weapons for these purposes, and house searches demonstrated that some already owned such weapons, the AFP reports. "My hat is off to the perpetual deployment of the DGSI operatives who daily oversee the protection of the French, face-to-face with any violent activity no matter where it comes from," tweeted French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb about the anti-terrorist operation.
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