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2 ARRESTED IN FRANCE OVER TERROR PLOT

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Officials at the French Interior Ministry and the Paris prosecutor’s office said, on Thursday 03/07/2013, intelligence and police officers detained two young men in a house in Marignane, near Marseille (see also – Arrests 04.04.12 ).

The authorities searched the house for explosives or other evidence of terrorist connections. The suspects are French citizens, aged 18 and 20, the officials said. The men had been under surveillance since 11/2012, the Interior Ministry official said. They had been identified as a threat based on “jihadist messages and consultations” online, and the authorities said they moved in because they believed the men were ready to carry out terrorist acts. It was not immediately clear what the target or targets of the potential attacks might have been, or whether the men were connected to terrorist organizations abroad.

The French authorities have been on high alert for terrorist activity for years, and this vigilance has escalated since January, when the French military began the Mali Campaign against extremists who had imposed harsh Islamic rule in Northern Mali.

There was no immediate link between the men detained Thursday and the Mali campaign. Yet the French authorities have warned that the operation in Africa increases the risk of attacks by militants in France. Small groups of militants from France have already headed to Mali.

“We can’t rule out that youth may want to punish France for what they consider to be an attack against Islam,” Marc Trevidic, a judge, said last week. He particularly noted the threat of a “low intensity” attack by isolated extremists, as opposed to big organized networks.

One French-Malian citizen detained in Mali, in 11/2012, was sent to France this week and is in custody, the Paris prosecutor’s office said Thursday. Ibrahim Ouattara, a 24-year-old from of the working class Paris suburb of Aubervilliers, had a history of trips to places like Yemen and Somalia, and is suspected of being a scout to set up a recruiting network to Mali.  .

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