A neo-Nazi linked to Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik was arrested in southwestern France yesterday after investigators decided he might stage a large "terrorist act", Interior Minister Manuel Valls said.
Varg Vikernes, who is also a convicted murderer from Norway, had in the past received a copy of a manifesto from Breivik, the far-right militant who killed 77 people in 2011.
Vikernes, 40, a well-known black metal musician in Norway, was arrested with his French wife Marie Chachet after she recently bought four rifles, Valls said.
"Having received the manifesto before (Breivik) committed his crimes and having been sentenced in Norway in the past for murder, this individual, who was close to a neo-Nazi movement, was likely to prepare a large terrorist act," Valls said.
Officers were searching his home in Correze for weapons and explosives, a police source said.
Breivik killed 77 people in a bombing in central Oslo and a shooting spree on a nearby island in July 2011. He was imprisoned last year for a maximum term of 21 years.
Breivik sent a copy of his manifesto setting out his ideology to Vikernes, an official at the Paris prosecutor's office said.
Breivik's 1,500-page manifesto outlined his planned crusade against Muslims, who he said were taking over Europe and could only be defeated through a violent civil war.
Cachet, 25, had a legal firearms permit when she bought the four rifles, the official said.
"The investigation will notably establish the conditions in which these (rifles) were acquired and their real objective," Valls said.
On his website, Vikernes discusses Breivik's manifesto, but in a post called "War in Europe: Part V - Breivik Unveiled" he also criticises the murderer for killing more innocent Norwegians than Muslims.
Vikernes describes himself as a "pagan" and accuses Breivik of being a Zionist agent and "Christian loser".
"If you, dear European nationalists, really want to save Europe (as a biological term) you have to realise that the only thing to do is to cast aside all Christian other international nonsense and embrace only the European (i.e. Pagan) values and ideals and if you like the European deities as well," said the posting, dated December 13.
"If you work for Christianity in any way you work for the Jews. Plain and simple."
Vikernes founded a band called Burzum in the early 1990s, which soon became a fixture of Norway's black metal scene, the magazine Guitar World wrote in 2010 after interviewing him.
But he soon lapsed into violent crime. He was convicted in 1994 of stabbing a rival musician to death in Oslo and burning down several churches.
He was released from jail in 2009 and moved to France with his wife and three children.
"The stay in prison probably made me a little more extreme, in every way," he said in the interview.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse