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13 members of French Islamist group calling for jihad face charges
PARIS — Preliminary charges were filed against 13 Islamist radicals in France, a prosecutor announced Tuesday, saying some had been calling for Muslim Shariah law in the country while stashing weapons and hatching plots, including one to kidnap a judge.
Prosecutor Francois Molins said at a news conference that members of the Forsane Alizza group received physical training in parks and forests around Paris and religious indoctrination “in order to take part in a jihad,” or holy war.
The group preached hate and violence on their Internet site, which “called for an Islamic caliphate in France, the application of the Shariah and incited Muslims to unite to prepare for civil war,” Mr. Molins said.
The charges handed down against some members of Forsane Alizza, or Knights of Pride, comes amid a crackdown on Islamist extremists following the March killing spree in southern France by a 23-year-old claiming links to al Qaeda.
The suspected gunman, Mohamed Merah, was killed after a 32-hour standoff with police.
France expelled a foreign radical imam Monday, and an Islamist militant and others were in line to be forced to return to their homelands.
President Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday on Canal Plus TV that there is now “zero tolerance” for hate speech and ideologies which don’t conform with the values of France.
“You will see that, in the weeks to come, we will continue this absolutely systematic work of assuring the protection of the French by not tolerating such activities,” he said of the Forsane Alizza group.
The 13 - among 17 suspects detained in police raids last week - face preliminary charges of criminal association linked to a terrorist network, a sweeping charge with a maximum 10-year prison term that is used in France to ensure a full investigation of terror suspects.
Nine of the 13 are in jail, Mr. Molins said. The other four must report regularly to police. Charges of acquiring, transporting and detention of arms also were issued.
The remaining four of the 17 who had been detained were being released.
The prosecutor said several terror plans appeared to be in the works, including the kidnapping of a judge in Lyon, in southeast France. An official close to the investigation said the targeted judge is Jewish.
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