PARIS, FRANCE —
The Paris prosecutor says France has avoided an imminent terrorist attack, and five recently arrested suspects received their orders from the so-called Islamic State group. The men allegedly had been planning to strike targets near the capital next week.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters that the men had been receiving instructions via an encrypted App from an IS commander in the Iraq-Syria region.
He said the men were planning to strike the Paris area next Thursday, although the exact target was not clear. He said authorities had found screenshots of Google maps highlighting several places. Reports say the targets under consideration were police offices and the domestic intelligence headquarters in Paris, along with Disneyland theme park outside the capital.
Molins identified the suspects as four French citizens arrested in the eastern city of Strasbourg last weekend, and one Moroccan arrested in Marseille. Some had no previous police records. French authorities also discovered documents pledging allegiance to IS and glorifying a martyrs death.
Molins said two of the men had travelled to the Turkey-Syrian border in March 2015, via Cyprus. He said the Moroccan suspect had been turned away by authorities when he tried to enter Turkey.
Molins said authorities had also seized hand guns and other material, along with instructions on how to procure more arms. The men were to appear in court later Friday.
Molins said France faces a major threat from terrorists trained abroad and sent back to strike - or guided remotely from Syria. France is a top exporter of jihadists to the Middle East and some have begun to come back.
More than 230 people have been killed in a series of terrorist attacks since early 2015. The country recently marked the one year anniversary of attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.