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Last Updated: Monday, 19 September 2005, 17:28 GMT 18:28 UK
Iraq 'recruiters' held in France
By Hugh Schofield

US troops in Iraq
US and British troops come under regular attack from insurgents
French police have detained six men in a Paris suburb suspected of recruiting volunteers to fight against US and British forces in Iraq.

The men, who are believed to be all in their twenties, were picked up in the Seine-St Denis area of the city.

Intelligence services believe there has been a steady but limited movement of Islamic militants from France to Iraq over the last year and a half.

The men, who have not been named, are being held by anti-terrorist police.

Officials believe that they may be linked to another group based in the capital which was broken up at the start of the year.

Suicide attacks

It seems that the six were being kept under surveillance and were only taken into custody when they were about to pass from the planning stage to actually sending volunteers to Iraq.

The French intelligence services are keeping a close eye out for recruiting networks among Islamic militants, though they say that the phenomenon remains relatively small scale.

So far, they have identified 20 or 30 individuals who have gone out via Syria or Saudi Arabia.

Three of them died in suicide bomb attacks and four others in clashes with US and Iraqi forces.

Most of the recruits they describe as isolated and vulnerable young men falling under the influence of a handful of charismatic leaders.

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