French authorities have announced that raids this weekend linked to the closure of a mosque last week led to the seizure of Kalashnikov ammunition and Islamic State propaganda videos.
The Prefect in the Seine-and-Marne department yesterday issued a statement declaring that 7.62mm ammunition for a Kalashnikov rifle, and Islamic State propaganda videos were discovered in raids that were linked to last week’s closure of a mosque in Lagny-sur-Marne (pictured). The locations of the most recent raids were not made public.
The statement also said police had found recordings of religious chants “glorifying the martyrs of jihad linked to the terrorist organisation Jabhat al-Nusra”, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda, reports The Local.
They were uncovered among teaching materials intended for young pupils at a madrassa, or Quranic religious school. Authorities confirmed: “No request was made to open a private school.”
In addition, the French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has confirmed that “three pseudo-cultural associations” linked to the mosque at Lagny-sur-Marne were being dissolved, marking the first time the French government has used its special powers to wind up such organisations.
The large-scale operation — conducted under measures introduced as part of the State of Emergency declared following the Paris attacks that saw terrorists kill 130 people in November — has resulted in 22 travel bans and nine house arrests for “radicalised individuals”.
Two other mosques were also closed last week using laws which permit authorities to shut places of worship that show a “pattern of radicalisation”. One was near Paris in the northern suburb of Gennevilliers and another in the small town of L’Arbresle near the central city of Lyon.
Meanwhile, despite its successes some human rights activists have criticised the ongoing crackdown operation.
After last week’s raid French-Tunisian human rights activist Samia Hathroubi told Al Jazeera she sees a disconnect between what President Hollande says to reassure Muslims that they are not being “singled out”, and the reality of the raids which have “largely targeted mosques and activists from Muslim communities.”
She said: “I am worried and really stunned by the decisions taken by the executive power to tackle terrorism. I feel we should be very cautious in France with civil rights and our freedoms which are jeopardised by the state of emergency…
“Activists are angry against what we see as an attack against our civil rights and liberties. We knew far too well that we would be the first target of this state of emergency, and we were proven right.”