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French Authorities Free Two Suspects in Terror Plots | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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French gendarmes take part in a simulation of a terror attack during a training exercise of the Civil Security to test the reactivity of rescue teams at Sainte-Therese middle school in Beaumont-sur-Sarthe, northwestern France, on November 15, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER)

Paris – French authorities have released two of the seven suspects arrested in weekend police raids, which broke up a terror ring plotting an attack, a judicial source told Agence France Presse.

The source said that the two men released on Tuesday were among three suspects held in Marseille. They were suspected of having sheltered Hicham E., 46, who is a Moroccan living in Portugal.

Authorities believe that Hicham, who is still in custody, is the group’s financer.

Four other suspects held in Strasbourg are all French and aged between 35 and 37. They are still being questioned by authorities near Paris. Two of them are suspected of having traveled to Syria in 2015 before returning to Europe via Cyprus.

During the raids, police discovered two handguns, an automatic pistol, a machine pistol and propaganda materials.

Naser B., 38, and Laamari N., 40, are two Frenchmen linked to the group. They are thought to have been in communication with a commander in Syria, an informed probe source said.

They have been questioned and put behind bars as investigations revealed they applied for loans to fund terrorist activities.

While announcing their arrest, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve admitted that “a long-planned terror attack on our soil” has been foiled.

The mayor of Strasbourg has said the interior ministry indicated the targets were in the Paris region rather than in his city, which will open a major Christmas market this Friday.

France is under a state of emergency that gives security forces enhanced powers to mount surveillance and launch raids.

Since January 2015, three major attacks occurred in France between Nice and Paris that killed 238 persons which ISIS claimed responsibility for.