France: Security Services Arrest Seven Islamic Radicals Plotting Terror Attacks

A French gendarme armed with a Heckler and Koch UMP stands guard during a road traffic con

The Directorate General of Internal Security (DGSI), France’s internal intelligence and security agency, has arrested seven Islamist radicals they claim were plotting terrorist attacks.

The DGSI released details of the arrest, saying all of the men involved lived in the city of Brest, with many of them already being under government surveillance prior to the arrests, broadcaster RTL reports.

The suspects are, according to French media, accused of being “an association of criminals with terrorist and criminal aims”. Another source close to the investigation claimed that several of the arrested men are with records on the so-called S-File, the French national terror watchlist database.

The S-File is said to contain tens of thousands of people, most of them radical Islamists, but former General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) agent Yves Trotignon admitted in 2018 that authorities do not have the manpower to keep track of everyone on the list.

Along with potentially plotting attacks, several of the men arrested in Brest are also said to have expressed a desire to travel to the Middle East to join Islamist groups in Iraq and Syria. However, investigators mentioned few details about specific attacks.

The arrests are just the latest related to a potential attack foiled by French authorities within the last year.  In May 2019, France had foiled five serious Islamist terror attacks including a plot by two men to attack a kindergarten and hold the children and staff hostage.

Earlier this month, neighbouring Belgium also announced an arrest in the French-speaking city of Verviers in connection with terrorism charges.

A Syrian national was arrested in December with Eric Van Duyse, the spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office, saying investigators had found a gas cartridge pistol, a machete, and several other bladed weapons in the possession of the Syrian migrant.

“But the investigation did not reveal any trace of a specific target or a real plan for an attack. Let’s say that his activities were worrying, to say the least. On the side of the federal prosecution, we try to work as far upstream as possible,” Van Duyse said.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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