Illustration photo: RAID police unit officers/AFP
Five members of the group, who were “close in ideology to the neo-Nazi movement” were charged between September and May over the alleged plot, which was still “ill-defined”, a source close to the investigation said.
“The investigation suggested they were developing an ill-defined plot to carry out an attack, likely to target a place of worship,” the judicial source said.
The investigation had been ongoing for several months, leading to the arrest of five people who were planning attacks against several targets, including the annual dinner of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) and Muslim places of worship, according to reports.
Among the suspects are an assistant volunteer constable and a 15-year-old, according to reports in the French press. The arrests are believed to have taken place between September 2018 and the end of May 2019.
Macron addressing Jewish community leaders at the annual dinner of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF). Photo: AFP
The five suspects had named their group 'L'Oiseau Noir' ('Black Bird) and they communicated via a forum where they discussed the possibilities of an attack, it was reported.
The investigation was opened after the September 2018 arrest of a volunteer constable whose contract was expiring in Grenoble, with investigators finding Kalashnikovs, explosives, a Glock pistol and a rifle at their home.
The investigation led them to the four other suspects, two of them minors.
Anti-terrorism investigators took over the investigation in January and charged the suspects with terror offences, including making and transporting explosive devices and being part of a terrorist conspiracy.
In June 2018, 13 people with links to the radical far-right were arrested by anti-terrorist police in France over an alleged plot to attack Muslims, judical sources said at the time.
The arrests were made late Saturday in operations across France, including the Mediterranean island of Corsica.
The suspects had an “ill-defined plan to commit a violent act targeting people of the Muslim faith,” one source close to the probe had said.
Another source said the gang was looking to hit “targets linked to radical Islam”.
While France has repeatedly been targeted by jihadists since 2015, a handful of alleged plots involving far-right extremists have made headlines in recent months.
In November, six people were arrested over an alleged plot to attack President Emmanuel Macron.
In July 2017, a 23-year-old was charged with plotting to assassinate the president at France's Bastille Day military parade.
The man told investigators he wanted to kill Macron along with “Muslims, Jews, blacks and homosexuals,” and three kitchen knives were found in his car.