PARIS (AFP) - A French teenager linked to an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremist suspected of instigating several attacks in France was arrested on Wednesday (Sept 14) for allegedly offering to carry out a strike.
The youth was in touch with French militant Rachid Kassim, who is suspected of ordering or inciting the killing of a police couple in their home in June and the murder of an elderly priest in a Normandy church in July, police sources said.
Investigators were on Wednesday searching the teenager's home in north-east Paris to try to ascertain whether he had been planning an imminent attack. His age was not given.
His arrest comes two days after a 15-year-old from eastern Paris was charged with conspiring to commit terrorist acts after writing on Telegram - the encrypted messaging app popular among French radicals - of his plans to commit a stabbing, sources said.
He too had been in contact with Kassim, a 29-year-old social worker from the Loire valley, who has appeared in several Telegram videos made in Syria and Iraq urging attacks in France.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Wednesday that the intelligence services were "working harder than ever" to prevent assaults incited by "a number of characters in Syria who used encrypted methods to call on young people to carry out attacks".
Kassim, 29, was also in contact with an all-female gang of radicals who have been charged with planning another attack after an apparent failed attempt to blow up a car packed with gas cylinders near Paris' Notre Dame cathedral.
The three women were also believed to be planning an attack on a train station or on the police.
France has been repeatedly targeted by Islamic extremists in the last two years.
An assault on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 was followed by a rampage by ISIS gunmen and suicide bombers in Paris in November that killed 130 people.
More recently, a grisly truck attack on a crowd in Nice in July left 86 dead.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Sunday said the terror threat was at a "maximum" and that the authorities were foiling attacks and smashing militant networks "every day".
Mr Valls said that around 15,000 people were known to the police in France as having been radicalised, up from a previous estimate of 10,000.