June 29, 2017
France Shuts Third Mosque Amid Terror Investigation

Authorities in France shut down a total of three mosques amid an ongoing investigation into suspected terrorist activities. According to reports, members of all three mosques were linked to "Islamist radicalization" and are suspected of supporting terrorism.

As reported by LawFare, the mosques were raided and closed under an official state of emergency -- which was originally declared by French President François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Carlos Valls Galfetti on November 13 -- and extended by the French Parliament on November 20.

Although the original state of emergency had limited reach, Parliament approved an extensive revision along with the extension.

The revision increased Parliamentary oversight and regulations on warrantless physical searches. However, it also lowered the standards for electronic searches and house arrests.

The revision also gave the French government power to disband associations and groups suspected of assisting in or "committing acts that present serious harm to the public..."

As a direct result of these provisions, French authorities and government officials conducted 2,235 searches -- which resulted in 263 arrests and 330 house arrests. In a December 2 statement, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve confirmed a majority of the arrests were "primarily for activities related to the radical Islamist movement."

Cazeneuve also confirmed more than 334 weapons, including "145 long arms and 34 weapons of war" were seized amid the searches.

In his official statement, the Interior Minister also announced France shut down three mosques and "several clandestine prayer rooms" -- whose members are suspected of promoting or participating in terrorist activities.Cazeneuve confirmed the mosques were located in Gennevilliers, Lagny, and Lyons.

France's state of emergency was declared amid a series of devastating bombings, which occurred last month.

On the evening of November 13 and early morning hours of November 14, terrorists detonated bombs and opened fire at six locations throughout Paris and Saint-Denis, France, including a stadium, a theater, and several restaurants.

At total of 130 civilians were killed, and more than 360 were injured in the massacre.

The following day, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, otherwise known as ISIL or ISIS, claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

As reported by BBC, the attackers were later identified as Abdelhamid Abaaoud, Brahim Abdeslam, Sammy Amimour, Bilal Hadfi, M al Mahmod, Ahmad al-Mohammed, and Omar Ismail Mostrfai -- who are all dead. Authorities also recovered the bodies of two unidentified attackers.

Salah Abdeslam and Mohamed Abrini are suspected of involvement in the Paris bombings. However, they are on the run and their whereabouts are unknown.

Following the bombings, the French government has taken a proactive stance in preventing similar attacks in the future.

In addition to declaring a state of emergency, the French Air Force was authorized to bomb several ISIL targets in Al-Raqqah, Syria.

Within France, authorities are conducting ongoing raids of businesses, homes, and places of worship -- which are in some way linked to terrorist activity.

Although France shut down three mosques in fewer than two weeks, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the raids and closures are not meant to infringe on anyone's religious freedom.

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump suggested he would support similar measures in the United States if he wins the election in 2016.

As reported by CNN, Trump said he would "strongly consider" the option as "some of the hatred coming from these areas... is greater than anybody understands."

During the same interview, Trump criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio for failing to monitor mosques and Muslim community centers throughout New York City.

"You're going to have to watch and study the mosques... because a lot of talk is going on at the mosques."
Donald Trump's comments were in response to an earlier interview with Bernard Cazeneuve -- who announced his plans to investigate several mosques in and around Paris. Less than one month later, France shut down three mosques.

[Image via Shutterstock/Jasminko Ibrakovic]