France Conducts 150 Raids on Islamists

France Conducts 150 Raids on Islamists

Armed soldiers stand guard outside the courthouse where suspects are expected to be questioned in the fatal shootings in Paris on Friday, in Brussels, Belgium, November 16, 2015.
French police have made "more than 150 raids" on suspected Islamists across the country, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Monday.

The raids were carried out early Monday in Toulouse, Grenoble, Jeumont, Lyon and the Parisian suburb of Bobigny, resulting in the detaining of more than 10 people and the seizure of a number of weapons, including a rocket launcher, a Kalashnikov rifle and bulletproof vests.
Valls said France has "avoided several attacks," but there could be more "in the coming days, in the coming weeks." The prime minister said he is not trying to scare people but "we're living with and we're going to live for a long time, with this terrorist threat and we need to prepare ourselves for further attacks."
The raids and arrests were made as France prepares Monday for a midday moment of silence to pay homage to the victims of Friday's terrorism attacks on six sites across Paris, killing 129 people and wounding more than 350.  The death toll had stood at 132, but was lowered after an apparent counting error.  French President Francois Hollande is scheduled to mark the silent remembrance at the Sorbonne.
The European Union has asked all its member states to also participate in the silent observation.  Officials at NATO headquarters in Brussels will also observe the minute of silence.
'Act of war'
On Sunday, French fighter jets launched massive airstrikes against the Islamic State (IS) stronghold of Raqqa, destroying a command post and a training camp.
The planes took off from Jordan and the United Arab Emirates and were operating in conjunction with U.S. forces
A French military statement said 10 fighter jets were used to drop 20 bombs on the Islamic State targets. It was France’s biggest strike to date targeting IS in Syria, and it comes after the terrorist group claimed responsibility for the series of attacks in Paris that killed more than 130 people Friday night.
President Hollande has called Friday’s gun and suicide attacks an "act of war."
In a possibly related development, Reuters News Agency is reporting that the United States has made a second delivery of ammunition to the Syrian Arab coalition fighting IS in northern Syria.
Reuters quotes a U.S. official as saying the weaponry was delivered over land. A previous supply mission was conducted by air in October.

This photo released Nov. 9, 2015, by the French Army shows a French Mirage 2000 jet on the tarmac of an undisclosed air base as part of France's Operation Chammal launched in September 2015 in support of the U.S-led. coalition against Islamic State group.
While authorities believe that there were only eight actual attackers, they think that about 20 people were involved.  French prosecutors said Monday one suicide bomber has been identified as Samy Amkimour, a 28-year-old Frenchman charged in a terrorism investigation in 2012.  He had been placed under judicial supervision, but had disappeared and an international arrest warrant had been issued for him.
Prosecutors said three people in Amkimour's family were detained early Monday. 
Prosecutors said another suicide bomber was found with a Syrian passport with the name Ahmad Al Mohammad, a 25-year-old born in Idlib. The prosecutor's office said the attacker's fingerprint matched someone who passed through Greece in October.  
French police have also released a photo of a suspect who is still at large from the Friday night attack on Paris.
The suspect is identified as Salah Abdeslam, a 26-year-old man born in Brussels, Belgium. The posting soliciting information about the so-called eighth attacker warns that he is dangerous and that anyone with information should call authorities.
Media sources are reporting that French officials stopped Abdeslam hours after the attacks Friday night. They pulled him over on a roadway near the Belgian border in a car with two other people, questioned the three and released them.

People hold candles and pay their respect at Grigoris Auxentiou square in the southern port city of Limassol, Cyprus, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.
He is one of three French brothers linked to the string of near simultaneous attacks across Paris.
Another brother - Salah Ibrahim - blew himself up at the Bataclan music hall, during an attack there that killed more than 80 people. Belgium authorities are detaining the third brother.
Police in both France and Belgium have made several arrests and also are questioning family members and other people linked to the other suspected assailants.
Several of the Paris suicide bombers have been identified, including Bilal Hafdi of Belgium, who was one of the suicide bombers at the stadium.
French police Sunday questioned close relatives of Omar Ismail Mostefai, the first terrorist identified in the attack.
Mostefai's father, brother and sister-in-law were among six people authorities detained. He was one of seven attackers, all of them wearing suicide vests packed with explosives, who died during the simultaneous attacks, with six of them blowing themselves up and the seventh killed in a shootout with police.
French prosecutor Francois Molins said Mostefai was known to police as a petty criminal, but had "never been implicated in an investigation or a terrorist association." The 29-year-old Mostefai lived in Chartres, near Paris.
While authorities believe that there were only 8 actual attackers, they think that about 20 people were involved and of those, 10 are still unaccounted for.

People place flowers and light candles for the victims of the deadly attacks in Paris, outside the French Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, Nov. 15, 2015.
Panic in Paris
Hundreds of Parisians who had gathered to observe vigils at the Place de la République and Carillion Café, one of the places that was attacked, panicked Sunday when sudden noises sent them running.
VOA's Daniel Schearf said he was shooting video footage at the first location where a crowd of about 2,000 had gathered mostly to mourn, although a small group was showing defiance and singing. A scream was heard somewhere at the center of the crowd and as he heard more screams people ran, emptying the square in a matter of minutes.
The Associated Press reports that the crowd was spooked by fire crackers.
The Place de la République was the scene of massive peace demonstrations after January’s Paris attacks.
Hundreds of people packed Notre Dame Cathedral for an evening mass Sunday and Paris' Grand Synagogue held a special prayer vigil. Observances were held in cities throughout France.  
Rifles found
Police said Sunday three AK-47 assault rifles were found in a black Seat Leon car used by gunmen who fired on people at bars and restaurants. The Spanish-manufactured car was discovered parked on a street in the eastern suburb of Montreuil.
A second car believed involved in the attack, a Volkswagen Polo, was found at the Bataclan concert hall where 89 people were killed.
French authorities say a Syrian passport was found next to the body of one of the attackers. Greece said the man entered Europe as part of the influx of migrants fleeing Syria's civil war.
"We confirm that the [Syrian] passport holder came through the Greek island of Leros on October 3, where he was registered under EU rules," said Nikos Toskas, the Greek minister for citizen protection. Serbian and Croatian authorities say the man passed through their checkpoints in the days after that.

FILE - A dinghy carrying refugees and migrants, crosses the Aegean Sea from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos, Nov. 10, 2015.
Claim of responsibility
In its claim of responsibility, Islamic State lashed out at the countries trying to suppress its attempt to establish a "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq, and said France remains "at the top" of its list of preferred targets.
An Islamic State message posted online Saturday said the Paris attacks were a response to the airstrikes the United States and its allies have been launching against its fighters in Iraq and Syria for more than a year.
Six sites across Paris were attacked, including restaurants, a football (soccer) stadium and the Bataclan concert hall. 
The Islamic State singled out France in its online statement. "The stench of death will not leave their noses," it said of French leaders.

France Conducts 150 Raids on Islamists France Conducts 150 Raids on Islamists Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 4:53 PM Rating: 5

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