French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, said police on Tuesday arrested five persons in Paris, suspected of links to jihadists who recruit youths to fight with the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
He said the suspects, aged 26 to 44, were arrested in the southern town of Lunel, some 150 kilometres west of Marseille.
Cazeneuve said more than 10 persons from Lunel left for Syria last year.
He said investigation by the government has revealed that 3,000 French citizens are linked to extremist networks, and 73 French citizens have died fighting in Iraq and Syria.
Cazeneuve said there are also court proceedings involving 547 people believed to be connected to jihadist networks.
He said the French security services are on high alert after terrorist attacks in early January left 20 people dead, including three French gunmen who credited the Islamic State and al-Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate.
Cazeneuve said the attacks prompted the government to increase spending on counter-terrorism and defence.
“There are also plans to fight ideological radicalisation, including at schools,’’ he said.
“We are and will remain inflexible about ensuring that those who would threaten our freedoms cannot do harm, rather they will be hunted down, arrested and brought to justice,” he added.
Cazeneuve said he would be travelling to the U.S. in the coming weeks to meet with representatives from Google, Facebook, Twitter and other internet companies to encourage them to contribute to monitoring online radical propaganda.