Two teenage girls from Nice, France, are being held on suspicion of planning a terror attack directed by a notorious French DAESH member, a source close to the investigation said on Sunday.
The girls, aged 17 and 19, live in the same area of Nice as Mohamed Lahouari Bouhlel, the Tunisian man who killed 86 people by driving a truck into a crowd in the city on July 14.
The suspects have told investigators that they were in contact with Rashid Kassim, a French DAESH member based in the areas of Syria and Iraq controlled by the terrorist group.
"They admitted they had been planning a violent attack under the influence of Rashid Kassim before abandoning their plans," the source told AFP.
The 17-year-old was not on the intelligence services’ radar before. She was charged with associating with terror suspects in September.
The 19-year-old had been in contact with another French DAESH member, Omar Diaby. Two years ago she planned to travel to Syria.
Kassim has emerged as a major focus of concern for French anti-terror investigators. He was found to be in contact with numerous people who either conducted attacks in France or have been arrested on suspicion of plotting terror strikes over the messaging app Telegram.
He is believed to have inspired an attack in June in which a senior French police officer and his partner were stabbed to death.
The French General Directorate for Internal Security arrested at least four teenagers suspected of planning another terror attack within a period of 10 days in early September.
All of them were in contact with Kassim over Telegram.
More than 200 people have been killed in terror assaults in France since 2015, including 130 who died in November's Paris attacks.