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Four Terror Suspects in France Charged with Criminal Conspiracy

French police say several recently arrested terrorist suspects were planning attacks against Russian interests in France. Authorities believe the suspects intended to use a chemical device. Four men most recently arrested are charged with being part of a criminal conspiracy.

French police say that the terrorist cell they claim to have put out of business was planning a number of attacks, including one against the Russian embassy in Paris and at least one involving the use of toxic cyanide gas.

According to evidence presented at a hearing for four suspects arrested Tuesday, three of those arrested had spent time in the Pankisi gorge region of Georgia, where they were in contact with both Chechen rebels and al-Qaida specialists in the use of chemical weapons.

Prosecutors say the suspects had returned to France to carry out attacks against Russian interests in revenge for the deaths of Chechen fighters when Russian authorities stormed a Moscow theater where the Chechens had taken several hundred people hostage.

The magistrates hearing evidence against the suspects were told that the group was on the verge of carrying out the attacks in Paris when anti-terrorism police arrested eight men and a woman in a series of raids between December 16-24.

In the raids, police said they found detonators, a shopping list of chemicals for a cyanide gas bomb and vials of chemicals that experts are analyzing.

Police say there are more members of the terrorist cell but that they are outside France -most probably in Spain.