So far 7 have been arrested. “Five of the suspects are French, one is Moroccan and the other Afghan, and they are between 29 and 37 years old. Six of them hadn’t been known to intelligence services,” stated French Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
One was a well-liked elementary school assistant. Another was a hard-working cargo handler. The third was a friendly grocer. They were longtime friends in their quiet suburban neighborhood, and they joked with teenagers and greeted children with a smile.
Yet in the early hours of Nov. 20 agents from France’s internal security agency swooped down, plucking the three and one other from their apartments, charging them with plotting a terrorist attack, and locking them up in a prison outside Paris.
Here was a new type of terrorism arrest: decently paid men in their 30s giving no warning signs of radicalization – no beards, no robes, no proselytizing[.] … There were certainly more obvious candidates for jihad. The four arrested gave no outward hint of radicalization.
And unlike many troubled youths in Paris and Brussels who have latched onto the Islamic State, they did not live on the margins. They had stable jobs and no previous brushes with drugs or crime.
“Nobody saw anything,” said Olivier Bitz, Strasbourg’s deputy mayor in charge of counter-radicalization. “And that is profoundly disconcerting. It is profoundly destabilizing for society. Now, the threat can come from anywhere.”..
This weekend another man connected to the Strasbourg cell was arrested, authorities said, bringing the total to seven, including one in Marseille and one in Morocco. Potential targets, according to the authorities: police headquarters in the heart of Paris, the Christmas market on the ChampsÉlysées, and cafes in the city’s 20th Arrondissement. NY Times