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The Foreign Ministry announced the arrest today of four people in Paris and southern France who are part of a jihadist recruiting network that sends fighters to Syria. On May 30, French authorities in Marseille arrested Mehdi Nemmouche, a suspect in the killing of three people at a Jewish museum in Brussels on May 24, who allegedly trained in Syria with terrorist groups. Authorities did not indicate whether today's arrests are related to the arrest of Nemmouche.
Foreign Minister Le Drian announced that France will deploy 3,000 soldiers to the Sahel, while maintaining 1,000 in Mali, to combat Islamist militants. The additional troops will be based in Niamey, Niger's capital, where French drones are based; in Burkina Faso; and in Chad; the logistics hub will be in Ivory Coast. He said the Sahel was key to both African and French security and vowed that France would stay with the mission "as long as it takes." Le Drian also announced the death of another French soldier in Mali, who was killed by an IED. Since the launch of an "anti-jihad" hotline and website on April 29, authorities have received 24 "relevant" reports ; five involved individuals who already left France to fight in Syria.
The Defense Ministry denied a report that the government paid a ransom of $18 million for the release of four French journalists who were were kidnapped in Syria by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, an al Qaeda offshoot, in June 2013. According to the report, Defense Minister LeDrian took the ransom money to Ankara, where Turkish secret services helped transfer it to the kidnappers.
Interior Minister Cazeneuve will submit an antiradicalization plan to address the threat of jihadism at home and abroad; some 700 French citizens or nationals are thought to have fought in Syria. President Hollande was urged to allow more Syrian refugees into France.
A French court questioned and released Souad Merah, the sister of al Qaeda-linked Toulouse shooter Mohamed Merah, who killed seven people in 2012. She had spoken approvingly of Merah's actions and of Osama bin Laden. So far three people have been charged in the investigation, including Merah's brother Abdelkader; 30 people have been detained and released.