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Lyon bomb suspect ‘had pledged allegiance to Islamic State’

An Algerian suspected of setting off a package bomb in southeast France last week has told investigators that he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State jihadist group, a judicial source said on Thursday.

Lyon bomb suspect 'had pledged allegiance to Islamic State'
Emergency services personal treat an injured woman after the bomb exploded in Lyon on Monday. Photo: Phillippe Desmazes/AFP
The 24-year-old man, identified as Mohamed Hichem M., was arrested on Monday after an extensive manhunt since Friday, when 13 people were wounded by the explosion on a busy pedestrian street in Lyon.
 
Sources close to the case said that after initially refusing to talk, the suspect admitted Wednesday to planting the bomb, packed with screws and ball bearings and a relatively small amount of acetone peroxide, or APEX.
   
It was the same volatile compound used in the deadly Paris terror attacks of November 13, 2015 and other incidents since which have claimed the lives of more than 250 people.
   
The Islamic State group has been behind several of the attacks, although police had said earlier that no one had claimed the Lyon blast.
   
The suspect's brother, who was also arrested and questioned by anti-terror investigators in Paris, and his parents were released from custody on Thursday “in the absence, at this stage, of anything incriminating them,” the Paris prosecutors' office said.
   
A search of the man's home had already turned up “elements likely to be used for making APEX,” one source told AFP, and searches of his computers pointed to internet searches related to jihadism and bomb-building.
   
Thirteen people were wounded in the blast — eight women, four men and a 10-year-old girl.
 
The package was placed in front of a bakery near the corner of two crowded pedestrian streets in the historic heart of Lyon at around 17:30 pm last Friday.
   
Video surveillance cameras led police to identify the man after he fled the scene on a bicycle.
   
He was arrested while getting off a bus in a suburb just south of the city.
 
Lyon Mayor Gerard Collomb said this week that the suspect had not been known to the police.
 
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IS

France charges jihadi with murder in IS territory

France on Friday charged a man with murder days after his expulsion from Turkey, holding him in custody over crimes alleged to have taken place in jihadist-controlled areas of Iraq and Syria.

France charges jihadi with murder in IS territory
People walk under a billboard erected by the Islamic State (IS) group as part of a campaign in the IS controlled Syrian city of Raqqa in 2014. Photo: Raqa Media Center / AFP
Using the pseudonym “Abou Salman al Faransi”, 26-year-old Othman Garrido is believed to have arrived in the region in 2012, where anti-terror prosecutors (PNAT) say he committed “murder in connection with a terrorist undertaking” and joined a “terrorist conspiracy”.
   
He is believed to have played an important role in and have information on the French jihadist scene.
   
A judge on Friday ordered him jailed provisionally after he spent the week in police custody.
   
“Based on photographs of abuses where he is visible”, Garrido “was likely involved in other murders in Iraq and Syria” being probed in a separate investigation, PNAT said.
 
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Prosecutors suspect him of three murders in total, although they have not been able to precisely date the crimes.
   
France has had an arrest warrant out since 2016 for Garrido, a native of southern city Montpellier.
   
Turkish forces captured him near the Syrian border in July, and handed him over under a Paris-Ankara deal covering the return of French jihadists.
   
A youth court sentenced Garrido in 2017 to 15 years in jail for joining the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria, where he trained and fought as well as attempting to incite violence by French Muslims.
 
   
After burning his French passport, Garrido urged Muslims to kill “infidels” in a seven-minute video distributed by IS' communications arm in 2014.
   
He was flanked in that recording by two other French jihadists using the pseudonyms Abou Ousama al Faransi and Abou Maryam al Faransi.   
 
Garrido's parents and two of his brothers have also received jailed sentences of 10 and 15 years. It is unclear whether his brothers, who also travelled to Syria, remain alive.
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