The Latest: : Islamist jailed in France raid

AP News
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Posted: Nov 24, 2015 10:35 PM
The Latest: : Islamist jailed in France raid

PARIS (AP) — The latest on the deadly attacks in Paris and the heightened security in Europe. All times local:

1:40 a.m.

A man said to practice an ultra-orthodox version of Islam has been jailed after a police raid on his home in a village in the Pyrenees region.

A judicial police official said that Olivier Corel was detained for questioning on Tuesday after the raid on his home by 70 police. The raid on his home in Artigat was part of stepped-up measures under a state of emergency declared in the wake of Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed at least 130 people in addition to seven Islamic extremist attackers.

The judicial official said that Corel was jailed for illegal holding of a hunting rifle.

Authorities believe Corel, 69, who is of Syrian origin, lodged Fabien Clain, who is reported to have been the voice on an Islamic State French-language claim of responsibility for the Paris attacks. Clain was convicted in 2009 for involvement in a network sending extremist fighters to Iraq.

Corel is also believed to have figured in the religious life of Frenchman Mohammed Merah, who killed a rabbi, three children at a Jewish school and three paratroopers in southern France in 2012. Referred to in the French press as the "white emir," Corel, who has a full white beard, has been questioned in the past by police. He can be held for up to four days.

—By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny

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8:40 p.m.

The man who housed a suspected ringleader of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks has been charged with terrorism-related offences.

Jawad Bendaoud, 29, is the first person suspected of a direct link to the attackers to be charged in connection with the attacks.

The prosecutor's office said he was charged with criminal association and detention of incendiary or explosive substances linked to a terrorist enterprise.

He is being held, but appealing for his freedom.

Bendaoud acknowledged in a television interview giving shelter to two people from Belgium in his home in Saint-Denis but said he didn't know who they were or what they planned. He told BFM television "I didn't know they were terrorists. I was asked to do a favor. I did a favor, sir."

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8:20 p.m.

Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins says he is seeking terror-related charges for the man who housed a suspected ringleader of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks.

Jawad Bendaoud, 29, has appeared before an investigating magistrate and must be charged by the end of the day on Tuesday. He would be the first known person charged in France for direct links to the attackers.

The prosecutor said he wants him charged with participation in a terrorist enterprise and transport and detention of explosives for having arms in his home in the northern suburb of Saint-Denis, where suspected ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud was killed in a seven-hour police raid on Nov. 18.

Molins said Bendaoud provided the apartment for money and "welcomed the terrorists himself." He said he was in contact before and after the attacks with someone whose line was also used by the Paris attackers. Molins said he surely knew he was renting his lodging to a "terrorist organization," but that his exact role has yet to be determined.

Bendaoud acknowledged in a television interview giving shelter to two people from Belgium but said he didn't know who they were or what they planned. Bendaoud, 29, told BFM television "I didn't know they were terrorists. I was asked to do a favor. I did a favor, sir."

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7:10 p.m.

Prosecutor Francois Molins says the suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks, Abdalhamid Abaaoud, is believed to have been planning a suicide attack on the French capital's La Defense business district on Nov. 18 or 19.

Abaaoud was among three people who died during a police raid on an apartment in a northern Paris suburb in the days after the attacks. One of the three has still not been identified but is believed to have died when a suicide vest exploded.

The attacks killed 130 people and injured hundreds when gunmen and suicide bombers hit a packed concert hall, a cafe, a restaurant and attempted to strike at a soccer match. Molins said that after the attacks, Abaaoud returned to the site of the Bataclan concert hall while police were still there.

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6:30 p.m.

President Barack Obama says Russia's airstrikes against moderate opposition groups in Syria are bolstering the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Obama is calling on Russia to play a more constructive role by shifting the focus of its airstrikes to defeating the Islamic State.

Speaking at a joint news conference with French President Francois Hollande after the two met to discuss the global response to the Islamic State group, Obama said IS cannot be tolerated and must be destroyed.

Calling it a "barbaric terrorist group," he said this is an important moment for the U.S. and France as well as the rest of the world.

Hollande's trip to Washington is part of a diplomatic push to get the international community to bolster the campaign against the Islamic State extremists. But he's likely to leave Washington without firm backing for his call to bring Russia into a new coalition to fight the extremists.

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6:20 p.m.

Belgian authorities have charged a fifth suspect with terror offenses relating to the Paris attacks.

The federal prosecutor's office on Tuesday also issued an international warrant for Mohamed Abrini, who is being tracked by both Belgian and French police.

Authorities are looking for Abrini because he was seen with fugitive Salah Abdeslam at a gasoline station in Ressons on the highway to Paris two days before the attacks. They said that Abrini was driving the Renault Clio that was used in the attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds of others.

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5:50 p.m.

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi has announced new spending plans for security and culture in the wake of the Paris attacks, saying that for every euro spent to protect Italians another euro will be invested in educational and cultural activities.

Renzi proposed in a speech Tuesday security and cultural spending of 2 billion euros, saying he would postpone tax cuts to raise the funds. The premier said that the project is meant to demonstrate that "humanity is stronger than terror."

His plans include spending on cybersecurity, better equipping law enforcement and boosting their pay. Another 1 billion euros would be invested in improving degraded urban outskirts, funding cultural outings for 18-year-olds and other projects promoting Italy's cultural treasures.

Renzi said "we won't change our way of live. We won't renounce our values."

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5:30 p.m.

Thursday's Europa League soccer game between Belgian team FC Brugge and Napoli of Italy will be played behind closed doors because of the security threats in Belgium.

Although the highest threat alert is limited to the capital, Brussels, the rest of Belgium is facing the second highest alert notification considering an attack "possible and likely."

Bruges mayor Renaat Landuyt said at first the decision was taken to keep only Italian fans out, but when it became clear that could pose practical problems, he decided to keep all stadium doors shut.

4:05 p.m.

Police in northwestern Germany say they're investigating a tip received from a member of the public that a suspect wanted in the Paris attacks may be hiding out in a rural area near Hannover.

Bielefeld police said Tuesday that they had been given a specific address in the nearby Minden-Luebbecke area where Salah Abdeslam was alleged to have been hiding, but so far after "an intensive investigation" have not found any sign that he had been there.

Abdeslam is thought to have crossed into Belgium the morning after the attacks and is the subject of a massive manhunt.

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3:55 p.m.

Italy's interior minister has confirmed that a fugitive from the Paris attacks that killed 130 people came through Italy in August.

Italian news media have reported that Salah Abdeslam, the object of an international manhunt, and another suspected Islamic State militant had traveled through Italy on Aug. 1, catching a ferry from the southern port of Bari to Greece. Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told The Associated Press on the sidelines of an event Tuesday that "when they made the crossing they were free citizens, not sought-after terrorists."

News reports indicate that Abdeslam and Ahmad Dahmani returned to Bari from Greece on Aug. 5, transiting Italy by car before crossing the border to France the next day. Dahmani was detained in a luxury hotel in Turkey over the weekend.

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3:45 p.m.

France's interior minister says that 124 people have been handed preliminary charges since a state of emergency was issued hours after the Paris attacks.

Bernard Cazeneuve told lawmakers on Tuesday that more than 1,230 searches were carried out, and 230 arms recovered. He provided no details about the charges for the 124 people.

It was the first time authorities have announced charges since the Nov. 13 attacks that killed 130 and wounded hundreds of others.

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3:20 p.m.

Media in Kosovo says the government has closed 16 non-governmental organizations suspected of having links to extremist networks.

The daily newspaper Koha Ditore said Tuesday that the decision was taken after intelligence service and police discovered that the 16 NGOs dealing with humanitarian assistance also were involved in recruiting and "spreading propaganda in support of the extremist activities."

Kosovo police are coordinating with neighboring Albania and Macedonia where extremist networks are believed to have spread.

Interior Ministry spokesman Behar Haziraj said that was classified information and he could not comment.

A few hundred Kosovo-born volunteers have joined the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. They often appear on their propaganda videos warning of imminent attacks.

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2:50 p.m.

Seventy French police backed by two security helicopters have raided the home of a radical Muslim preacher in the Pyrenees.

The raid in the town of Artigat on Tuesday targeted Olivier Corel, according to an official with the gendarme service. It is part of stepped-up security measures under a state of emergency declared in the wake of Nov. 13 attacks that killed at least 130 people in addition to seven Islamic extremist attackers.

Authorities believe Corel lodged Fabien Clain, reported to have been the voice on an Islamic State French-language claim of responsibility for the Paris attacks. Clain was convicted in 2009 for involvement in a network sending extremist fighters to Iraq.

Corel is also believed to have figured in the religious life of Frenchman Mohammed Merah, who killed a rabbi, three children at a Jewish school and three paratroopers in southern France in 2012.

—By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny

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12:50 p.m.

With Brussels continuing to operate under the highest alert level, some businesses are starting to feel the pain.

Few question the government's need to protect the public from a Paris-style attack, but some shop owners say the attempts to shut down Brussels are too extreme.

"It's not a very good decision," said Esther Willems, assistant manager at the Galler chocolate shop in the heart of Brussels' city center.

"In the last two days, we have only had about 10-11 clients." Willems said they would normally have about 100. She hoped things would improve on Wednesday, when the subways and schools are scheduled to begin reopening.

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12:40 p.m.

Belgium is seeking greater intelligence-sharing from Morocco amid threats to Brussels following the Paris attacks, and their two monarchs have held talks to pave the way for increased cooperation, according to the Moroccan state agency and a Belgian official.

The MAP news agency reported Tuesday that Morocco's King Mohammed VI and Belgian King Philippe held telephone talks and then the interior ministers of both countries discussed details of closer security cooperation.

A Belgian official said that King Philippe stood ready to help the government with the anti-terror effort, adding that contacts at the highest level certainly help. The official asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the talks.

Belgian authorities have put their capital under the highest terrorism alert and are leading a manhunt for Salah Abdeslam, a Belgian with Moroccan roots, suspected of being directly involved in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks.

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12:30 p.m.

French authorities says they have no intention of scrapping the fan zones planned in host cities at next year's European soccer championships despite the risk of attacks.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Tuesday that security for the continental tournament held in France from June 10-July 10 will be reinforced to ensure "the fan zones will be put in place."

About 7 million supporters visited the fan zones in the host cities during the 2012 Euros in Poland and Ukraine. Following the attacks in Paris Nov. 13, which included suicide bombers at the Stade de France national stadium, there are concerns the designated 2016 Euro areas for the public in each of the 10 host cities could be a target of choice for potential attackers.

The fan zone in Paris is expected to be located on the Champs de Mars, below the Eiffel Tour, and have a capacity of 120,000.

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9 a.m.

The only person in France facing potential terrorism charges linked to the Nov. 13 Paris attacks has been brought before a judge. The man, Jawad Bendaoud, was taken into custody moments after giving a television interview in which he acknowledged he had given shelter to two people from Belgium and said he didn't know who they were or what they planned. Among those killed in the apartment raid Nov. 18 was Amdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind, a female cousin and an unidentified man.

In the interview, Bendaoud, 29, told BFM television "I didn't know they were terrorists. I was asked to do a favor, I did a favor, sir."

Bendaoud was taken to the courthouse Tuesday morning to be formally referred to a judge. He must be either charged or released today.