France expels five radical imams

France last week banned four Muslim preachers from entering the country for a conference of the Union of Islamic Organisations.

PARIS: France has expelled two Islamic radicals and plans to deport three more as part of its crackdown following last month’s attacks by an Islamist who shot dead seven people, officials said Monday.

An Algerian radical and a Malian imam were sent back to their home countries on Monday, the interior ministry said in a statement.

A Saudi imam would not be let back into the country, a Turkish imam and a Tunisian radical would also shortly be expelled, and others would follow, the statement added.

At an election rally in the eastern city of Nancy on Monday, President Nicolas Sarkozy said he was sending a very clear message.

“All those who make remarks contrary to the values of the Republic will be instantly put outside the territory of the French Republic, there will no exception, there will be no leniency,” he said.

French police arrested 19 people in a crackdown on suspected Islamist networks in dawn raids on Friday as Sarkozy made the battle against extremism a keynote of his re-election campaign.

Of those, 16 were still in custody on Monday, sources close to the investigation said.

Some of the arrests were made in the southwest city of Toulouse, where gunman Mohamed Merah was shot dead by police last month after a 32-hour siege at a flat there.

Of the two deported Monday, Algerian activist Ali Belhadad had served 18 months in France for his part in a 1994 attack on a Marrakesh hotel in which gunmen killed two people and wounded two others, said the ministry.

Belhadad, who had in recent weeks re-established links with the radical Islamist movement, had been deported to Algeria, the ministry said. Continue reading

Fighting Terrorism, French-Style

News Analysis

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Ian Langsdon/European Pressphoto Agency

French soldiers on patrol near the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

By STEVEN ERLANGER
Published: March 30, 2012

FRANCE and the United States have different notions of liberty, equality and fraternity, though the words look roughly the same in both languages. Methods of combating homegrown terrorism — another French word dating from 1789 — are also quite different, stemming from different histories, legal systems and conceptions of the state.

The horrors in Toulouse — the murders of seven people in a bit more than a week by Mohammed Merah, a 23-year-old French citizen of Algerian-born parents who claimed membership in Al Qaeda — created a fierce debate in France about whether the police and security services failed to identify him in time. The police also failed to take him alive, making it harder to discover the true breadth of his contacts and of his path to terrorism.

Mr. Merah clearly slipped through the French net, which relies heavily on human intelligence and judgment. The French are asking why, and whether he might have been more easily identified by the more automated — and expensive — American-style reliance on computerized monitoring of phone calls and the Internet. That question is unanswerable, of course. But the differences between the two countries and their methods are considerable.

“In the United States, it is the system that counts; in France, it is the men,” says Marc Trévidic, a senior investigating magistrate for terrorism in France.

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Iran suspends oil exports to France, UK

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Iran exports 2.2 million barrels of oil a day, 18% of which is bound for European markets, according to the EIA.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Other customers will “replace French and British companies,” an Iranian oil ministry spokesman says
  • The EU sanctions are meant to force Iran to provide more information on its nuclear program
  • Iran exports 2.2. million barrels of oil daily, 18% of which is bound for European markets

Tehran (CNN) — Iran’s oil ministry announced Sunday that it had stopped crude exports to British and French companies.

The order came several days after Iran threatened to cut oil exports to some European Union countries in retaliation for sanctions put in place by the EU and the United States in January, a ministry spokesman said in a statement.

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Libyan rebel commander: French military contractor killed in accidental shooting in Benghazi

BENGHAZI, Libya — The head and founder of a French military contracting company was killed in an accidental discharge of a weapon in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi as he was arguing about his team getting arrested, a rebel commander said Friday.

In Paris, the private military company SECOPEX Conseil said Pierre Marziali died Thursday at a Benghazi hospital after being wounded at a checkpoint as he and colleagues were leaving a restaurant overnight.

Marziali, 48, died hours before a planned meeting with the transitional government of rebels fighting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi‘s forces. He was in Libya to set up a security guard service and a “secure corridor” on the road to Cairo, the company said. Continue reading