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TERRORISM

‘Jihadist’ shopkeeper to be expelled from France

A shopkeeper suspected of promoting armed jihad against France is to be deported back to his native Algeria, his lawyer confirmed on Friday.

'Jihadist' shopkeeper to be expelled from France
File photo of French police arresting Forsane Alizza Islamic radical group's leader Mohamed Achamlane in March 30, 2012. Photo Jean Sebastian Evrard/AFP

Abdelghani Hadef, who works in a store in Mantes-la-Jolie (Yvelines) was in the process of being deported to his native Algeria on Friday after being arrested on suspicion of leading a jihadist network in France, French daily Le Parisien reported. His lawyer vehemently denies the accusations.

Hadef was arrested by police on Thursday after being tracked for months by France's intelligence services.

On February 10 the Ministry for Economics and Finance ordered Hadef's assets to be frozen on the grounds he was suspected of "promoting armed jihad against France" and of "encouraging violent acts".

He had been held at a detention centre in Vincennes, Val-de-Marne over night on Thursday.

But on Friday Hadef's lawyer Nawel Gafsia discovered that his client had been taken to Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Paris to be deported.

"He was never warned that he would get a notice of deportation. No one told me what was going on. I never saw it," said Gafsia.

"He is being treated like a notorious terrorist even though he has never preached jihad or praised terrorism," his lawyer added.

The move comes just weeks after French authorities expelled another suspected Islamic extremist to his native Morocco.

The interior ministry said Ali Benhamou was expelled to Morocco under an expulsion order following "serious charges" against him.

READ: The rise of Islamophobia in France

It linked him with a group known as Forsane Alizza, which was banned in France last year and saw 13 of its members arrested and charged under anti-terrorism laws.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls has also vowed to crackdown on radical Muslim preachers announcing in January that Paris was set to deport a string of extremist imams as part of a fight against "global jihadism".

"Several radical foreign preachers will be expelled in the coming days," Valls told a Brussels conference called to tackle extremism in Europe, without identifying any of the individuals concerned.

"I don't confuse this radical Islam with the Islam of France but there is a religious environment, there are Salafist groupings, who are involved in a political process, whose aim is to monopolize cultural associations and schools," he added.

TERRORISM

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks

US Vice President Kamala Harris and French Prime Minister Jean Castex laid wreaths at a Paris cafe and France's national football stadium Saturday six years since deadly terror attacks that left 130 people dead.

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks
US Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff lay flowers after ceremonies at Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, at which 130 people were killed during the 2015 Paris terror attacks. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/POOL/AFP

The attacks by three separate teams of Islamic State group jihadists on the night of November 13, 2015 were the worst in France since World War II.

Gunmen mowed down 129 people in front of cafes and at a concert hall in the capital, while a bus driver was killed after suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates of the stadium in its suburbs.

Harris, wrapping up a four-day trip to France, placed a bouquet of white flowers in front of a plaque honouring the victims outside a Paris cafe.

Castex attended a minute of silence at the Stade de France football stadium, along with Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, before laying wreaths at the sites of the other attacks inside Paris.

In front of the Bataclan concert hall, survivors and relatives of the victims listened to someone read out the names of each of the 90 people killed during a concert there six years ago.

Public commemorations of the tragedy were called off last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last year we weren’t allowed to come and we all found it really tough,” said Bruno Poncet, who made it out alive of the Bataclan.

But he said the start of a trial over the attacks in September meant that those attending the commemoration this year felt more united.

‘Overcome it all’

“We’ve really bonded thanks to the trial,” he said. “During previous commemorations, we’d spot each other from afar without really daring to speak to each other. We were really shy. But standing up in court has really changed everything.”

The marathon trial, the biggest in France’s modern legal history, is expected to last until May 2022.

Twenty defendants are facing sentences of up to life in prison, including the sole attacker who was not gunned down by police, Salah Abdeslam, a French-Moroccan national who was captured in Brussels. Six of the defendants are being tried in absentia.

Poncet said he felt it was crucial that he attend the hearings. “I can’t possibly not. It’s our lives that are being discussed in that room, and it’s important to come to support the others and to try to overcome it all.”

Survivors have taken to the witness stand to recount the horror of the attacks, but also to describe life afterwards.

Several said they had been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, grappling with survivor’s guilt, or even feeling alienated from the rest of society.

Saturday’s commemorations are to wrap up with a minute of silence at the Stade de France in the evening before the kick-off for a game between France and Kazakhstan.

It was during a football match between France and Germany that three suicide bombers blew themselves up in 2015.

Then-French president Francois Hollande was one of the 80,000 people in the crowd, before he was discreetly whisked away to avoid triggering mass panic.

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