Five suspects, who were arrested last weekend in France on suspicion of planning attacks in the country, were being directed remotely by the Islamic State group, a Paris prosecutor said Friday. The suspects had reportedly planned to carry out terror attacks in and around Paris.
"A Strasbourg commando team, and also a man arrested in Marseille, were given instructions to acquire arms. The instructions were given by a commander from the Iraqi-Syrian region via encrypted apps," Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins told a news conference, according to Reuters.
The French prosecutor also reportedly said that authorities investigating the case found documents claiming allegiance to ISIS.
Last weekend, French authorities said they prevented a major terrorist attack when they arrested seven people who were suspected of planning an "enormous" act of terror. The men - aged 29 to 37 - were arrested in Strasbourg and Marseille while antiterrorism raids were being conducted by officers from the General Directorate for Internal Security and the Research, Assistance, Intervention and Deterrence unit, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Sunday.
France has been combating ISIS since the militant group carried out the tragic Paris attacks on Nov. 13, 2015, that left 130 people dead and injured hundreds more. Since the Paris attacks, France has witnessed four more ISIS terror strikes. The deadliest was the Bastille Day attack in the town of Nice on July 4 when Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel drove his truck through a group of people, who were watching fireworks for Bastille Day celebrations, killing 86 and injuring 303 others. The 31-year-old Tunisian man was ultimately shot dead by police. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack through news agency Amaq.
“He did the attack in response to calls to target the citizens of the coalition that is fighting the Islamic State," Amaq wrote at the time.
Earlier this month, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said he was seeking another extension to the state of emergency put in place after the deadly Paris attacks last year.
Valls told lawmakers that France's 2017 elections and involvement in the United States-led coalition fighting ISIS has made the country a target for terrorist attacks. He said he would ask the parliament for an extension of the state of emergency due to the ongoing security concerns.