Alleged Islamists remanded in Paris custody: sources

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Four suspected Islamists arrested earlier this week while allegedly plotting to murder the head of Paris' main mosque were remanded in custody Friday, sources close to the investigation said.

The men are under investigation for forming a "criminal association and relations with a terrorist enterprise".

A fifth woman suspect, who had also been arrested, was freed late Thursday.

One of the sources told AFP late Friday several suspects had planned to "create a jihadist group for Afghanistan before coming back to France to carry out attacks".

One of the suspects was "ready to die" for his cause, French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux had said after the five were arrested in Paris and at the city's main Charles de Gaulle airport on Monday and Tuesday.

They were allegedly plotting to murder Dalil Boubakeur, the head of Paris' main mosque, who has been under heightened police protection in recent months.

The five are French nationals, some of Algerian origin, and according to Hortefeux "clearly members of a radical Islamist movement".

Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden warned France last month that its planned ban on the Islamic full-face veil in public places and its involvement in the war in Afghanistan justified violence against its nationals.

Hortefeux subsequently said that France faced a real terror threat that needed "total vigilance".

Western security officials have also warned that Al-Qaeda may be planning attacks in Europe similar to those that struck Mumbai in 2008.

On Saturday, French police arrested a man in his thirties suspected of having travelled to the sensitive Pakistan-Afghanistan border region.

He has been held in custody pending trial, also on charges of "criminal association and relations with a terrorist enterprise".

© 2010 AFP

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