French authorities arrest armed ex-soldier with suspected ISIS connections
A suspected militant who was found with guns, Islamic State group flags and a pledge of allegiance to its leader was arrested near an airbase by French authorities on Friday, reports said.
The ex-soldier was in possession of a shotgun and two vintage pistols that were discovered hidden near the base in Evreux, northwest of Paris, sources said.
Meanwhile, an electronic pledge was found on a computer flash drive, along with the flags, in the ex-soldier’s vehicle.
Police arrested the suspect early on Friday after finding his car near the base. Paris anti-terror prosecutors are investigating, but it is not clear why he was in the area.
The suspect, who was born in 1983, converted to Islam and has been under close surveillance since 2014 due to his radicalisation.
Meanwhile, France’s presidential election campaign has been overshadowed by security concerns.
Just days before the first round of voting, 39-year-old Frenchman, Karim Cheurfi, shot and killed a police officer and wounded two others on the Champs Elysees avenue, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group. Cheurfi was killed by police gunfire during the incident.
On Friday, Greenpeace activists pulled off a daring stunt in central Paris, attaching a giant banner to the Eiffel Tower and leaving police to admit security “flaws” at a time when terror fears remain high.
Meanwhile, an adviser to the far-right nationalist French presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, has been found guilty of inciting hatred and discrimination towards Muslims.
Robert Menard, the mayor of Beziers, a town in southern France, was fined 2,000 euros by a Paris court for saying there were too many Muslim children in his town’s schools.
Le Pen temporarily resigned as the president of France’s far-right National Front party, founded by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen in order to appeal to a wider range of French voters.