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article imageFrance charges two with suspected jihadist links

By AFP     Sep 21, 2016 in World

Two men allegedly linked to French extremist Rachid Kassim have been charged with "associating with terrorists", Paris prosecutors said Wednesday.

The men, aged 30 and 39, were arrested last Friday in the eastern towns of Dole and Roanne -- the hometown of Kassim, seen as one of the most dangerous French-speaking propagandists for the Islamic State group.

They allegedly associated with Kassim before he left for Iraq or Syria in May 2015.

Kassim, 29, is suspected of using the encrypted Telegram app to direct attacks on France from IS-controlled territory in Iraq or Syria.

A source close to the probe said the 30-year-old who was charged is suspected of having been in touch with Kassim recently via Telegram.

Investigators are trying to determine whether the older suspect "played a role in the radicalisation of Kassim," the source said.

Rachid Kassim
Rachid Kassim

Kassim, who has appeared in several IS propaganda videos, is suspected of ordering or inciting the killing of a police couple in their home west of Paris in June as well as the murder of an elderly priest in a Normandy church in July.

He is believed to have been a key influence on three teenagers arrested around Paris earlier this month.

Kassim was also in contact with an all-female gang of radicals, arrested on September 8, who have been charged with planning another attack after an apparent failed attempt to blow up a car packed with gas cylinders near Paris's Notre Dame cathedral.

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