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France deports Moroccan it says has radical Islam ties

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 31 Jan 2013 20:18 GMT
Author: Reuters
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PARIS, Jan 31 (Reuters) - France deported a Moroccan man on Thursday suspected of links to the radical Islamist group Forsane Alizza, the Interior Ministry said, after the threat of domestic attack escalated following its intervention in Mali.

Ali Benhammou, who was sent back to Morocco, had been involved in two cells linked to the French group Forsane Alizza (Knights of Pride) which "had made France a priority target," the ministry said in a statement.

Benhammou been trying to travel to Iran, with the ultimate objective of reaching Afghanistan, the ministry said.

French authorities have increased security measures in the wake of the Mali intervention earlier this month, which prompted Islamist rebels to call on followers to carry out reprisal attacks on Mali's former colonial ruler.

Islamist militants said an attack that killed 38 hostages earlier this month on a gas plant in Mali's neighbour Algeria, another former French colony, was a response to France's intervention in Mali.

On Tuesday, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls warned that several preachers and imams who espoused radical Islam would be deported from France in the coming days.

Four imams considered radical by authorities have been expelled over the past year, most recently in October.

Valls, who has taken a hard line on law and order, has warned that France is faced with an "enemy from within" as it tries to weed out militants.

Forsane Alizza is an outlawed group in France that came to prominence in 2010 after members invaded a McDonald's outlet shouting anti-Semitic slogans, and publicly burnt a copy of the French penal code the following year. (Reporting By Alexandria Sage; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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