Anti-terror investigators swooped on two towns on the outskirts of Lyon and rounded up the suspects, who they believe have been recruiting jihadis to join the fight against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.
They were “suspected of playing a very active role in the recruitment and departure to Syria of several young women in recent months”, a statement by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Wednesday.
Two minors, one of them a girl, who appeared to be about to leave for Syria, are among those detained, police sources told the AFP news agency.
Others included two brothers in their 20s who had been detained in 2012 when the Islamist group Forsane Alizza was banned and a brother and sister in the 30s who are accused of recruiting young women for jihad.
On Tuesday the French parliament gave the authorities the right to slap a travel ban on anyone suspected of wishing to leave the country to take part in “terrorist activities”.
Suspects would have their passport and identity card confiscated for six months, renewable over two years, if there were “serious reasons too believe that they are planning to travel abroad in order to take part in terrorist activities, war crimes or crimes against humanity or in a zone where terrorist groups operate in conditions that could lead to a threat to national security when they return to French territory”.
They would be given substitute papers for identity checks and their details would be passed to the Schengen information system, which monitors the movement of people within the zone.
The measure was the most important proposal in an anti-jihadi package being debated in parliament this week.