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France deports 2 Islamic radicals, will expel 3 more

Mohammed Merah killed seven people in France and was shot dead after a long siege in Toulouse.

Story highlights

  • An Islamic militant and imam are sent back to their home countries
  • Deportation proceedings have started or will be launched against three others
  • President Sarkozy said last week a crackdown on Islamic militants had started
  • The crackdown follows the killing of seven people by a suspected Islamic militant

The French Interior Ministry announced Monday it has deported two Muslims and plans to expel three more in a crackdown after the killing of seven people by a suspected Islamic extremist.

A statement by Interior Minister Claude Gueant said the moves were part of "an acceleration of the deportation procedures of foreign Islamic radicals."

An Islamic militant from Algeria who was involved in 1994 attacks in Marrakech, Morocco, was sent to his home country Monday, the statement said. In addition, a Malian imam was returned to his home country for sermons that promoted anti-Semitism and rejection of the West, it said.

Deportation proceedings also have started or are planned against three others: an imam of Saudi nationality, a militant Islamist from Tunisia and an imam from Turkey, the statement said.

It cited provisions in the law governing aliens and political asylum, saying the statutes "allow this type of decision with regards the 'urgent need for state security or public safety' or 'conduct likely to harm the fundamental interests of the state.' "

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According to the statement, other expulsions will occur soon.

    Last week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told French radio that 19 people had been arrested in a series of police raids on suspected Islamists.

    The raids came a week after gunman Mohammed Merah, who killed seven people, was shot dead after a long siege in the southwestern city of Toulouse.

    Sarkozy, who is running for re-election, said the raids were intended to "deny the entry of certain people to France" who did not share the country's values.

    "It's not just linked to Toulouse. It's all over the country. It's in connection with a form of radical Islam, and it's in agreement with the law," he said.

    Sarkozy suggested then that more raids would follow, saying, "There will be other operations that will continue and that will allow us to expel from our national territory a certain number of people who have no reason to be here."

    Merah was blamed for the killings of three French paratroopers, a rabbi and three Jewish children ages 4, 5 and 7. Two other people were seriously wounded in the shootings.

    Merah told police he had attended an al Qaeda training camp while visiting Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to Paris prosecutor Francois Molins.

    But his uncle, Jamal Azizi, denied statements by French authorities that Merah was an al Qaeda sympathizer and that he had traveled to Afghanistan or Pakistan to train to use arms.