PARIS – Five men arrested this week in two French cities were planning a terror attack in France as early as next week and were receiving their orders from an Islamic State group member based in Iraq or Syria, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Friday.
The five were arrested on Sunday, four of them in the eastern city of Strasbourg, and one in the southern city of Marseille.
Molins said Friday the Strasbourg "commando" of four was plotting a terror act on Dec. 1 but that investigators haven't yet determine which was "the specific chosen target among all those considered by the group."
He said the five men were "given guidance remotely" from an IS member based in Iraq or Syria and that they had a "clear will to find and to identify targets to commit an act in the very short term". Investigators found on one suspect's USB stick communications of GPS coordinates.
The five men, he said, "had common instructions to obtain weapons, instructions given by a ordering person from the Iraqi-Syrian zone through encrypted applications popular among terrorists."
Molins was speaking to reporters the day after anti-terrorism authorities took the unusual step of holding the men in custody without charge beyond the normal maximum period, relying on a recent anti-terrorism measure.
France remains under a state of emergency imposed after Islamic State attacks in Paris in November 2015 that killed 130 people.