France jails Islamist militant group members
A Paris court Monday sentenced eight members of an Islamist militant group to prison, giving the Indian-born mastermind Mohamed Niaz Abdul Raseed eight years.
The group was accused of recruiting French citizens for training at militant camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The suspects had been arrested and convicted for membership of a criminal gang and for plotting terror strikes.
Two French nationals -- Charaf-Din Aberouz and Saad Rajraji -- were described as Raseed's "lieutenants" and sentenced to five years each.
Aberouz was arrested on January 25, 2011 along with Pakistani-born French national Zohab Ifzal at Pakistan's Lahore airport, where an Al-Qaeda operative was supposed to meet and take them to a training camp.
The shortest sentence was 18 months, for one of the eight who was still at large and sentenced in absentia.
France is battling homegrown Islamist radicals and has stepped up security since Al-Qaeda-inspired gunman Mohamed Merah killed seven people in and around the city of Toulouse last year.
© 2013 AFP