(France 24) The 26-year-old webmaster of an Al Qaeda-linked website has been arrested by French security forces in Normandy, northern France, on charges of “provoking” terrorism.
France has arrested the webmaster of a jihadist site on charges of “provoking” terrorism, prosecutors said Thursday, just as the government warned that hundreds of homegrown Islamist militants were signing up to fight in Syria.
The 26-year-old, identified as “Romain”, was detained Tuesday for his role as administrator of the Ansar al Haqq website, a “reference” for the radical Islamist movement, and as a translator of magazines put out by militant group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Paris prosecutors said.
The announcement comes as French Interior Minister Manuel Valls warned that more than 300 French nationals or residents were either fighting in Syria’s devastating civil war, planning to go or had recently returned from there.
Most of them were young men, often with a delinquent past, who had become radicalised, he said.
“This is a phenomenon that worries me because they represent a potential danger when they return to our soil,” Valls said. “We have to be extremely attentive.”
Detained by intelligence officers in his native Calvados, a region in northern France, Romain said he converted to Islam when he was 20, prosecutors said.
The Ansar al Haqq website that he manages “has more than 4,000 members including 685 that are active” and Romain published statements from Al Qaeda’s north African branch AQIM on it, they added.
They said an investigation also found that the suspect had “an active role in the translation into French and the distribution of the 10th and 11th editions of the magazine Inspire.”
Inspire is an English-language propaganda magazine published by AQAP that offers theological support and praise for jihadists.
Romain’s wife told France Inter radio on Friday that she could not understand why her husband had been arrested.
“He was simply giving people the other side of the story, which the mainstream media don’t provide,” said the woman, who was not named in the broadcast.
“He’s not a radical Islamist, and in any case there is no difference between moderate Islam and radical Islam. There is only Islam,” she added.