France claims Islamic State links to ‘imminent’ terror plot uncovered

French authorities claimed Friday the Islamic State had a direct hand in helping five suspected militants plot “imminent attacks” against possible targets including Paris police hubs and Euro Disney.

French police had earlier said they believed they had foiled attacks planned for Dec. 1 against the Paris headquarters of police and intelligence officers and the Disney theme park, which is especially popular during the holiday season.

But the latest details, made public by a senior prosecutor, draw alleged links to the Islamic State and a core network of suspects — four French citizens who were longtime friends. The suspected fifth plotter, a homeless Moroccan man, was arrested in the southern port of Marseille.

A raid Sunday in Strasbourg uncovered firearms and instructions from “the Iraqi-Syrian region” to acquire more weapons, said Paris prosecutor François Molins. Also found were documents professing allegiance to the Islamic State, he said.

“The state of the threat is and remains particularly high,” Molins said.

The names of the Strasbourg suspects were given only as Yassin B., Hicham M., Samy B. and Zakaria M. Icham E., the suspect arrested in Marseille, was homeless, Molins said.

The revelation of the foiled plot comes before the second and final round of France’s conservative presidential primaries on Sunday. Throughout the campaign, the issue of national security has dominated.

“Obviously, these terrorist have chosen a specific moment: the elections,” said Jean-Charles Brisard, director of the Center for the Analysis of Terrorism, a Paris-based think tank. “It means the terrorists have a clear political strategy, because, of course, their actions would have an affect in benefiting the extremists.”

 

In France, an increase in conversions to Islam in 2015

The Great Mosque of Paris has recorded 40 conversions to Islam in January 2015, compared to 22 in January 2014.  Conversions to Islam have thus doubled, and increased mosque attendance has been reported in Strasbourg, Aubervilliers and Lyon, where conversions have increased from 20% to 30%. (Photo: Pangea Today)
The Great Mosque of Paris has recorded 40 conversions to Islam in January 2015, compared to 22 in January 2014. Conversions to Islam have thus doubled, and increased mosque attendance has been reported in Strasbourg, Aubervilliers and Lyon, where conversions have increased from 20% to 30%. (Photo: Pangea Today)

The Great Mosque of Paris has recorded 40 conversions to Islam in January 2015, compared to 22 in January 2014. Conversions to Islam have thus doubled, and increased mosque attendance has been reported in Strasbourg, Aubervilliers and Lyon, where conversions have increased from 20% to 30%.

The media has reported that since the Charlie Hebdo attacks there has been an increase in sales of Qur’an.

The results may appear strange considering the recent Charlie Hebdo attacks and the tense climate following the Averroès high school controversy, where a former teacher accused students of harboring Islamist tendencies.

“The school’s director plays a double game with our secular Republic: from one angle he shows its credentials to the media…and also continues to profit as a result of its contract with the state, and from another angle, perniciously disseminates an interpretation of Islam which is none other than Islamism, that’s to say, a dangerous mix of religion and politics,” said former teacher Soufiane Zitouni.

One of the recent converts explained his decision to convert: “It makes me want to convert to Islam and show the world what it’s not.” The phenomenon of conversion is all the more notable because it is present on several socio-professional levels. Imams who were interviewed on the radio stated that recent converts include doctors, professors, police officers, and even school directors.

There is no Islam in France, says Marine La Pen

News Agencies – October 8, 2012

 

There is no Islam that belongs to France, far-right National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen said in response to comments to the contrary from Interior Minister Manuel Valls. Le Pen said it was clear that the activities of radical Muslims were not being monitored on French soil, adding that all French Muslims that had become victims of Islamism had to accept the country’s secular system and combat radicalism.

Richard Prasquier, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF), also expressed his concerns about the growth of what he called an increasingly bellicose Islam, calling on the entire national Jewish community to defend itself against radicalization. Police detained 12 people suspected of involvement in radical Islamist activities mainly in Paris, Cannes and Strasbourg in other raids across the country. The Interior Ministry has said the raids will continue.

French Interior Ministry Opens Strasbourg Mosque

News Agencies – September 27, 2012

 

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls opened the country’s largest Mosque in eastern France, in his first speech to Muslims after the insulting caricatures were released of the Prophet Mohammed. During the opening ceremony of the Great Mosque, Valls praised the wisdom of Muslim leaders, who have called their followers to keep calm following the publication of the caricatures by the Charlie Hebdo Weekly.

 

“Racism, fundamentalism are not part of Islam,” said the Minister, who also praised the wise and mature stance adopted by French Muslims. The Minister also warned that the government will expel those, who using the name of the Islam, try to attack institutions or cause any type of riots. The inauguration ceremony was attended by local authorities, as well as by representatives of other religions.

 

The building of the Great Mosque started in 1993 and was partially opened during the holy month of Ramadan in 2011, though it was closed afterwards to conclude the construction work.

Islam is part of France: Interior Minister

News Agencies – September 28, 2012

 

Confirming Islam as part of France, the country’s socialist government has vowed to do more to integrate the religious minority, warning it will not tolerate radical members in the French society. “Islam has its place in France because the Islam of France, it is a part of France,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls told representatives of the Catholic, Jewish and Protestant communities attending the official opening the mosque capable of hosting 1,500 people.

Two weeks ago, the French weekly Charlie Hebdo published cartoons displaying a man said to be the prophet as naked. Entitled “Muhammad: a star is born”, one caricature depicts a bearded figure crouching over displaying nudity. A second cartoon, in reference to the scandal over a French magazine’s decision to publish topless photos of the wife of Britain’s Prince William, showed a topless, bearded character with the caption: “Riots in Arab countries after photos of Mrs. Muhammad are published.”

The French Council of Muslim Faith accused the French magazine of fuelling anti-Muslim sentiments at a sensitive time. The minister’s comments were given in a speech marking the inauguration of the Strasbourg Grand Mosque, the biggest Islamic place of worship ever built on French soil. The new mosque is built within 2km from Strasbourg’s celebrated cathedral.

Turkey to open Imam training centre in Paris

News Agencies – September 7, 2012

 

A dedicated training institute for imams will be opened in Strasbourg as part of an agreement between France and Turkey.
 From January 2013, the “Free Faculty of Islamic Theology” will offer training courses for 30 French students, including women. The project, the first of its kind in France, is being completely financed by Turkey and donations, and will involve spending two million euros to turn a former training centre for postal workers into the imam faculty.

 

Qualifications earned at the institute will be validated by the University of Istanbul. At the moment, imam training is being offered at places such as the Union of Islamic Organisations in France and the Great Mosque of Paris. Since 2008, the Catholic Institute of Paris has also been giving courses for future imams.

French Rapper Finds Identity in Islam

News Agencies – August 26, 2012

 

Leading a double life, reversion to Islam has saved French rapper Regis Fayette-Mikano from falling victim to heroin, murder and suicide that ended the lives of his close friends.

Born in Paris, Abd Al Malik was raised in Neuhof, a neighborhood of Strasbourg, to a Catholic family. He also dealt with drugs, selling hashish at nightclubs and restaurants.

After falling with a hardline group for six years, Abd Al Malik grew disenchanted with a “simplistic” Islam. Abd Al Malik as well as many French rappers sings about racism, identity and the plight of the “banlieues,” France’s impoverished suburbs.

The Mosque of Strasbourg opens its doors for Ramadan

News Agencies – July 20, 2012

 

Said Aalla, the president of the new Mosque of Strasbourg announced to 2,500 faithful who attended Friday prayers on the first day of Ramadan, “You have waited so long.” After 20 years of talk and six years of construction, the mosque was unveiled. The building will be officially inaugurated by President Hollande et Interior Minister Valls on September 27th, 2012.

CFCM calls for action against racist insults in Tarascon, France

News Agencies – May 24, 2012

A leading French Muslim group says three mosques have been vandalized and is urging authorities to punish the perpetrators. The French Council of the Muslim Faith, or CFCM, said racist insults and Nazi slogans were scrawled on a mosque in the southeastern town of Tarascon and another in the eastern city of Strasbourg. It said the mosque in the southern town of Draguignan was vandalized May 17.
In a statement, the CFCM expressed concern about what it called the “multiplication of these cowardly and hateful acts” and warned against complacency. Muslim and Jewish graveyards and religious buildings around France have long suffered sporadic vandalism. The group urged authorities to track down and punish those responsible “with all the necessary severity.”

Abu Hamza US extradition backed by European Court

The European Court of Human Rights has backed the extradition of Abu Hamza and four other terror suspects from the UK to the US. The Strasbourg court held there would be no violation of human rights for those facing life and solitary confinement in a “supermax” prison.

Judges said they would consider further the case of another suspect because of mental health issues.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “very pleased” with the news.

“It’s quite right that we have a proper legal process, although sometimes you can be frustrated by how long things take,” he added.

The court’s decision <http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=905791&portal=hbkm&source=externalbydocnumber&table=F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649>is one of its most important since 9/11 because it approves of human rights in US maximum security prisons, making it easier for the UK to send suspects to its closest ally.

There could still hypothetically be an appeal against the court’s ruling in its final Grand Chamber – but in practice, very few cases are re-examined in that final forum.