The arrested group, aged between 18 and 65, used encrypted messaging app Telegram to plan the alleged attack, an unnamed French judicial source said.
The 27-year-old imam, who was among the nine people arrested in France, is a Swiss national who converted to Islam three years ago, Swiss prosecutors said.
He had given himself the title of “emir,” and is believed to have “indoctrinated” the younger members of the Telegram chat group, of which he was the administrator.
Europe 1 journalists who were able to read some of the Telegram messages sent by the imam, who went by the alias ‘Al-Bosni’, added he had told the members of the chat group that it was “OK to eat non-believers” if “absolutely necessary”.
Most of the suspects – including the imam – were known to police and had been flagged over their alleged radicalisation and links to radical extremist groups.
The man was not recognised as an imam in the Muslim faith
The coordinated swoop took place just one week after France ended the two-year state of emergency imposed after the November 2015 coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris, during which 130 people were killed and scores more were wounded.
The emergency rule was swiftly replaced by a controversial new counter-terrorism bill which sees many emergency powers enshrined in law, with limited oversight from the judiciary.
Mr Collomb told reporters during a visit to Berlin earlier this week: “It’s part of operations which, sadly, are conducted relatively regularly, where we arrest a number of people we consider dangerous.”
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