Results tagged “France”
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Naamen Meziche, a French national of Algerian origin suspected of links to al Qaeda plots against the US and Europe, was arrested on arrival in France after being extradited from Pakistan. Meziche had been arrested in Pakistan in May 2012 with three other French jihadists, who were extradited to France in April.
Intelligence agents arrested a 21-year-old woman at her apartment in the Belleville district of Paris on suspicion of links to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. She is said to be a reader of AQAP's magazine Inspire. The arrest is the first stemming from an investigation that began in March into a suspected terrorist plot. Yesterday eight members of a militant Islamist group received sentences ranging from eight years to 18 months for recruiting French fighters for al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan and plotting terror attacks. One of the suspects, who remains at large, was sentenced in absentia.
President Hollande said France supports arming the Syrian rebels in a controlled manner so they do not end up in the hands of Islamists. A French Muslim convert was arrested in the Calvados region on terror charges for serving as administrator of the radical Islamist website Ansar al Haqq and as a translator of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's magazine Inspire. Interior Minister Valls warned that more than 130 French jihadists are now fighting in Syria, of a total of about 300 who are either currently fighting or known to be planning to go to Syria; a number of them are Muslim converts. A convert from Toulouse was killed in Syria while fighting regime forces in August.
President Hollande and the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates agreed on the need for more international support for the Syrian opposition and maintaining pressure on the Assad regime to ensure that it commits to negotiations on the Syrian crisis and does not again use chemical weapons. The Foreign Ministry called for a binding UN Security Council resolution to enforce Syria's compliance with the chemical weapons ban, and submitted a draft resolution to the UN.
A government spokesman said France remains determined to punish the chemical weapons use of the Assad regime in Syria if diplomatic measures fail, and that a military strike is still an option. Authorities are investigating four French men who were arrested last week and accused of robbing a fast food restaurant in Paris to finance their travel to Syria to fight with extremists.
President Hollande called yesterday for a "large coalition" including the US, Europe, and Arab states to respond to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in Syria. Today the head of the French opposition said his party could not support a military intervention in Syria without the backing of a UN resolution. The French president is constitutionally authorized to act on Syria without Parliament's approval.
Interior Minister Valls said that France "cannot go it alone" on Syria and would wait for the US Congress' decision. The government released an intelligence assessment blaming the Assad regime for the Aug. 21 attack in Damascus and describing the regime's extensive chemical weapons arsenal. The leaked French intelligence report claims that the Assad regime has over 1,000 tons of such agents, including the extremely lethal nerve toxin VX.
President Hollande said he supports "firm" punitive action against the Assad regime in Syria over the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack, and that France's position had not changed despite the recent British vote against an intervention. He said the attack could come by Aug. 4, when the French parliament debates the issue. He said he is not in favor of an intervention to topple the regime but rather to deal it a body blow for its use of chemical weapons. France has sent one of its latest warships to waters off Syria. China told France that determining who used the chemical weapons in Syria must be a precondition to any action.