Former French soldier arrested in Morocco with knives, machete in airline luggage

Low-cost airline company, Ryanair.
Low-cost airline company, Ryanair. Wikipedia

A Frenchman described as "radicalised" was arrested in Morocco after arriving on a flight with a machete, knives and a gas bottle in his luggage. Manuel Broustail, 31, who had previously been under house arrest in France, was held upon arrival in Fez on Sunday after authorities signalled his presence.


Local authorities from the Loire-Atlantique region said Broustail's hand luggage on the low-cost Ryanair flight from Nantes had contained nothing out of the ordinary and his checked baggage had not raised alarm bells when passing through electronic detectors as it did not contain explosives.

According to photos published in Moroccan media, Broustail's luggage also appeared to contain a truncheon and a balaclava.

Local government officials identified him as a former soldier who was thrown out of the army in 2014 following a report that he had been radicalised during a mission in Djibouti.

According to French intelligence, after converting to Islam, he had been the leader of a group of radicalised Muslims in the city of Angers, also in western France.

He reportedly organised "paramilitary-style training exercises", including one that took place just days before the November attacks in Paris which killed 130 people.

He was arrested after the attacks and placed under house arrest until mid-February.

But the local council of the Loire-Atlantique region said Broustail was no longer under house arrest when he checked in for the flight and there was no reason to stop him leaving France.

Sources close to the inquiry said that Broustail moved to Morocco last year with his wife. He had come back to France to sell his appartment.

Moroccan authorities have been working closely with European intelligence units and in January arrested a Belgian national of Moroccan origin directly linked to the attackers who carried out the Paris shootings and bombings.

Belgian prosecutors named him as Gelel Attar and the interior ministry said he fought in Syria with the al-Nusra Front before joining the Islamic State armed group.

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