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France Moves to Limit Jihadi Threat

FILE - French passport.

French authorities moved at home and abroad Monday to counter the threat of Islamic terrorism, seizing the passports of six jihadi suspects in France and deploying an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf to bolster the fight against the Islamic State group.

France's Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the passport seizures of suspected Islamists were only the beginning.

Cazeneuve said besides confiscating the passports of six would-be jihadists, the state is preparing another 40 administrative bans on leaving the country. The aim: to reduce the risks of people wanting to join terrorist movements in Iraq and Syria.

Cazeneuve described the average profile of those targeted as young, with 20 percent of them converts to Islam. He said the passport seizures would protect these would-be jihadists - but also France because they may eventually return after fighting abroad, posing an even greater danger.

France has been on high alert since the January attacks in Paris that killed 17 people. More than 10,000 soldiers have been deployed across the country to protect sensitive sites. Authorities estimate hundreds of French have also left the country in recent months to join terrorist groups in the Middle East.

Speaking to anglophone reporters in Paris, leading criminologist Alain Bauer sketched the average profile of the few dozen French nationals he said were truly dangerous.

"Very criminal, radicalized in jail, are in the intelligence system of the Ministry of Justice," said Bauer. "Have been known to change their way of behaving, life, look ..."

France has also deployed its Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier in the Gulf to help strengthen the U.S.-led military coalition against Islamic State. The first Rafale fighter jet took off from the ship on Monday.

Speaking aboard the Charles de Gaulle, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said French air support for allied operations in Iraq had helped thwart the advance of Islamic State and stabilize the front lines.

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