French counterterrorism police arrested 11 suspects as part of efforts aimed at dismantling an alleged al-Qaida-linked recruiting network to send radical Islamic fighters to Iraq, police officials said Wednesday.
Nine suspects were detained in and near the southern city of Toulouse before dawn Wednesday, following the arrest of two others at Orly airport in Paris who had just been sent home by Syrian authorities, police said.
Two of the suspects, mostly aged in their 20s, had sought to enter Iraq through neighboring Syria, but were detained by police there and remanded into French custody, police said. An investigation was continuing.
As part of the probe, investigators turned up letters sent to supermarkets in the region near Toulouse that threatened bomb attacks, a police official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The ministry said the nine arrested in southwestern France all were from the region and were “suspected of having links with the terrorist organization al-Qaida.”
Police investigators had monitored the suspects for months, according to the Interior Ministry, which first announced the arrests in a statement.
The arrests were not officially part of a French judicial probe into recruiting networks for Iraq that was opened in 2005, judicial officials said.