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French Police Arrest Syrian Refugee in Connection to Church Attack

ISIS fighters
A propaganda photo depicting ISIS fighters near Nineveh, Iraq / AP
• July 29, 2016 11:12 am

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French authorities arrested a Syrian refugee Friday who has suspected links to the ISIS Normandy church attack that took place earlier this week, Reuters reported.

The Syrian man was detained near a refugee center in the rural Allier region of central France, according to police.

The arrest occurred three days after two 19-year-old men, Adel Kermiche and Abdel-Malik Nabir Petitjean, filmed themselves slitting the throat of an 85-year-old priest Tuesday. ISIS immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Police said they discovered a copy of the Syrian’s passport at Kermiche’s family home.

The French government has come under escalated scrutiny during the past month over alleged security failings that may have contributed to the July 14 truck massacre in Nice that killed 84.

Kermiche was under house arrest on terrorist charges when he murdered the Catholic priest earlier this month. French authorities placed Petitjean on a terrorist watch list in June after he attempted to travel from Turkey to Syria.

The two men, who pledge allegiance to ISIS in a video recorded before the attack, stormed a church service, forced the Catholic priest to his knees, slit his throat, and then filmed themselves preaching in Arabic at the altar.

French President Francois Hollande aimed to ease tensions between the nation’s religious communities the day after the attack, which he called a "cowardly assassination." He joined top religious leaders at his Elysee Palace offices Wednesday to discuss cohesion efforts.

Published under: France, ISIS, Islamic State