Several arrests in the terrorist circles in Brest and Épinal in France
French police arrested seven people on 20 January in an anti-terrorist campaign in Brest.
The arrested were accused of belonging to a cell that was preparing to carry out a terrorist act. Among those arrested was Walid (B), who had drawn attention to himself after the Paris attacks in November 2015 by shooting in the air with an automatic weapon and cheering for the Paris attacks.
In September 2014, the police monitored his presence at the Serbian-Bulgarian border on a road used by jihadists who wanted to join ISIS in Syria.
After his arrest, the police found pictures of Islamic propaganda in his house, the regional daily Le Telegrame reported. He was sentenced to three years in prison for "glorifying terrorism".
Among the arrested was a young Syrian who came to France in early 2015. The 30-year-old, who apparently also has a Palestinian passport, was granted political asylum a few months after entering France, according to a source close to the investigation. Mohammed (D) is suspected of belonging to the Islamic State (IS) group.
According to a confidential source in the Le Point newspaper, Mohammed D is the central figure of the cell, which was dismantled by the police on January 20 as part of a judicial investigation into criminal and terrorist acts.
According to the investigation, the suspects searched for weapons and identified some targets, such as large gatherings.
On Thursday (January 23), the French police force Raid intervened in Épinal to search for a member of the Islamist movement suspected of preparing for a terrorist attack.
The 48-year-old was arrested last December for bragging about his ability to manufacture explosives. The man is on the extremist list and is associated with the Islamist group FursanAli Reza, whose leader was released in January after only five years in prison.
The security services initially did not suspect the man sitting in a wheelchair for the disabled, but he used his hands well, which enabled him to produce explosives. Explosives and pressure bombs with a timer were found in his house. The case was taken over by the prosecutor.
The Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE) arrested a Tunisian national and some relatives suspected of having fought in Syria and Iraq in October 2017 before possibly returning to Europe via Germany. Investigators have not uncovered plans to undertake a terrorist act, but according to an informed source, the man has puzzled security services.
Interior Minister Laurent Nunez told BFMTV on Thursday morning that the terrorist threat is still largely present in France. He pointed out that 60 attacks have been thwarted since late 2013. Nunez said: "At the end of this investigation, we will know whether we have the 61st attack or not."