Ex-Portsmouth footballer among 11 held in France on terror charges
Tuesday 09 October 2012
A former youth team footballer for Portsmouth FC was among 11 men arrested in France over the weekend on suspicion of being members of an Islamist terror cell, with some reported to have travelled to Syria to fight with extremist militia.
Yann Nsaku, 19, whose football career ended last year after a knee injury, is alleged to be part of a network of French converts to radical Islam who planned to attack Jewish targets as part of a "war on France". Mr Nsaku, of Congolese origin, was arrested at his home in Cannes on Saturday during a series of police raids in which the suspected leader of the network, Jérémie-Louis Sidney, 33, was shot dead. French authorities said yesterday that further arrests may follow.
Several members of the network – which included young men of white French, North African and West Indian origin – are believed to have returned recently from Syria after trying to make contact with jihadist groups taking part in the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad. All are believed to have been recent converts to Islam. Most already had convictions for offences such as theft or drug-dealing.
Mr Sidney was shot dead when he fired at a police unit which raided one of his homes in Strasbourg on Saturday. Traces of his DNA had been found on the handle of a home-made grenade which was thrown at a Jewish food shop in Sarcelles, near Paris, on 19 September. Prosecutors said the other raids in Cannes and in the greater Paris area had uncovered evidence of plans for further attacks on Jewish targets, including a list of all Jewish associations and institutions in the French capital.
Most members of the alleged network – with the exception of Mr Nsaku – were former delinquents from poor, multi-racial districts. Their profile resembles that of Mohamed Merah, the "scooter killer" who killed seven people in a series of attacks in Toulouse and Montauban in March. The network had no known links with Merah but is said to have idolised him, describing his murders as the "battle of Toulouse".
Other police sources said that the group, while dangerous, had displayed a "certain amateurishness". They had posted their radical views on Facebook and discussed their plans on the telephone.
Mr Nsaku, a midfielder, was transferred to Portsmouth from his home-town-team, Cannes, when he was 16. His father, Philippe, told the local newspaper, Nice-Matin, he had converted to Islam after his career was ended by a knee injury.
Several of the group are believed to have tried to make contact with jihadist groups in Syria
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...
£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...