Frenchman ‘planned attacks during euro 2016’

Source: http://www.liberation.fr/france/2016/06/06/un-francais-interpelle-avec-un-arsenal-en-ukraine_1457616

June 6, 2016

 

A Frenchman detained last month with a large cache of arms was planning mass attacks during the Euro 2016 football tournament, which starts on Friday, Ukrainian officials say.

 

The man, identified by French media as Gregoire Moutaux, 25, was arrested on the Ukrainian border with Poland.

Intelligence chief Vasyl Hrytsak said the man had planned 15 attacks and was driven by ultra-nationalist views.

 

He had amassed guns, detonators and 125kg of TNT, Hrytsak said.

 

Hrytsak listed bridges, motorways, a mosque and a synagogue among the suspect’s potential targets. He was being prosecuted for arms smuggling and terrorism, he said.

It was not clear if the tournament itself was being targeted and Paris police prefect Michel Cadot told reporters there was “no specific threat against any [Euro 2016] site.”

 

News of the man’s arrest on 21 May first emerged in a recent report. The suspect was described as a worker at a farming co-operative from the Lorraine area of eastern France. He had no previous criminal record, reports said. French authorities have been on high security alert ahead of the European championships, amid fears that the tournament could be targeted by Islamist militants.

 

President Francois Hollande said on Sunday that “the threat exists” but that France should not be daunted. Ukraine’s SBU security service said it had been watching the suspect since December last year and that he had picked up five Kalashnikovs, two anti-tank grenade launchers, some 5,000 rounds of ammunition and 100 detonators, as well as a large quantity of explosives.

 

An SBU video was shown of the dramatic moment of the suspect’s arrest along with the weapons that intelligence officials said they had found. The arrest was said to have taken place at a border crossing close to the Ukrainian town of Yahodyn.

 

The footage also revealed a second person being wrestled to the ground on the passenger side of the car.

 

The SBU chief said the French suspect had been in touch “with military units fighting in Donbass”, a reference to the eastern areas of Luhansk and Donetsk, where pro-Russian rebels have seized large areas of Ukrainian territory.

 

“The Frenchman spoke negatively of the activities of his government on mass migration of foreigners to France, the spread of Islam and globalization. He also said he wished to stage a number of terrorist attacks in protest,” Hrytsak said.

 

A search was carried out at the suspect’s home in the tiny village of Nant-le-Petit and police sources told French media that explosive material and balaclavas were recovered.

An inquiry has been launched by France’s organized crime agency, OCLCO, and by regional authorities in Nancy.

 

However, French police sources told AFP news agency that Ukrainian officials had yet to send them any details. There was some skepticism that the suspect could have been anything more than an arms trafficker.

Dutch Couple Return from Yemen Kidnapping

December 11, 2013

 

A Dutch couple kidnapped in Yemen in June have been released, according to the foreign affairs ministry. Journalist Judith Spiegel and Boudewijn Berendsen were taken from their house in Sana’a.  The couple returned to the Netherlands on Wednesday.

Spiegel denied speculation that the captors were affiliated with Al Qaeda, saying “…I know there were many rumours that we were in the hands of Al-Qaeda, but I’m not so sure about that.” No information is known regarding their abductors, nor if a ransom was paid to the kidnappers.

AFP reports that hundreds of people have been kidnapped in Yemen over the past 15 years, mostly by tribesman and nearly all of them later freed unharmed. Yemen’s powerful tribes often kidnap foreigners to use them as bargaining chips in disputes with the central government. Al-Qaeda militants have also seized foreigners in the country.

 

Dutch News:

A Tunisian Imam Expelled

Wednesday October 31, French police expelled 77 year-old Tunisian imam suspected of preaching the jihad. Mohamed Hammami, the imam of the Mosque of Omar in central Paris, was charged with making comments openly hostile to the values of the Republic. In a statement to the AFP, Minister of the Interior, Manuel Valls accused Hammami of preaching violent jihad, anti-Semitism and the use of violence and corporal punishment against women including whipping-to-death of women accused of adultery.

French intelligence curtailed tracking of Toulouse gunman

French intelligence services curtailed supervision of Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah a few months before his shooting spree in Toulouse despite his known links to extremists, according to leaked documents. The reports from France’s DCRI domestic intelligence service, seen by AFP, show that Merah was under intense surveillance throughout 2011 but that agents decided to reduce monitoring.

They show that Merah, who had been under surveillance since 2006, was identified as a “privileged target” at the beginning of last year after returning from a trip to Afghanistan, where he was detained in November 2010. Surveillance from March to July indicated he was in regular contact with “the radical Islamist movement in Toulouse”, said he was showing “paranoid behaviour” and that he was receiving funds from extremists.

French intelligence services have been repeatedly criticised for failing to prevent Merah’s attacks. Merah, a self-described Al-Qaeda sympathiser, shot a rabbi, three Jewish schoolchildren and three French paratroopers in attacks in and around the southern city of Toulouse in March, before being shot dead in a police siege.

Dutch Ship Offering Abortions Causes Controversy in Morocco

5 October 2012

 

The Dutch non-profit organization Women on Waves, which provides safe abortions to women aboard a boat in international waters, conducted its first visit to a Muslim country this week. The controversial “abortion ship” docked on Thursday in the harbor of Smir, near the city of Tangier, about 20 yards from shore. While authorities are restricting access to the harbor, the boat arrived ahead of announced arrival and avoided the blockade. At midday, up to 300 people had gathered at Smir to protest against the visit.

The Dutch group says the purpose of the visit is to provide women with “safe legal medical abortions”. AFP quotes local response from Chafik Chraibi, head of a Moroccan NGO seeking to provide abortions legally, saying, “It’s true that the initiative is symbolic, to defend the rights of women to have abortions… But to practice at sea, in international waters, is for me a way of circumventing the law and is something clandestine.” Lawyer Abdelmalik Zaza, in the newspaper of ruling Islamist party the PJD, commented “Moroccan law forbids abortion. Moroccan religious identity says it is forbidden and so does Islam. So the government cannot allow this ship to come to Morocco.”

French Mosques accused of backing Hollande

News Agencies – April 26, 2012

 

The rightwing UMP party has accused Socialists of courting the Muslim vote and alleges that mosques are calling for the faithful to vote for leftwing candidate Francois Hollande. Muslim religious authorities in France however deny they have called on voters to support Hollande. In an interview with the newswire AFP, Abdallah Zekri, a leader of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, says imams have called on followers to vote but have not given them instructions as to who they should vote for.

According to the weekly Marianne, only one mosque in France, located in Puteaux, west of Paris, has called on believers to vote for Hollande.

 

Relations between President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Muslim community are tense as Sarkozy, who is running for re-election, is taking a hard line on immigration. He also shocked French Muslims when he called on authorities to label halal meat in France.

Sarkozy lost to Hollande in the first round of the presidential election last week and needs the vote of the far right party the National Front if he wants to beat his Socialist rival in the second round next week.

French police arrest Tunisian migrants

AFP – April 27, 2011
French police arrested 60 mostly Tunisian immigrants in Paris accusing them of entering the country illegally, as France pushes to tighten the EU’s open-border rules. A Paris police source said the suspects, who included some Egyptians, Libyans and Algerians, were in custody after being arrested in Paris and Pantin, a suburb of the capital, for “breaking the residency laws”.
The turbulence in the Arab world has driven a wave of migrants to seek refuge in Europe, with thousands landing in Italy in recent weeks. Many French-speaking Tunisians hope to reach France which has close ties to its former colony.
France has taken a tough line on the spillover, however, voicing annoyance with Italy for issuing temporary residency permits to migrants that enable them to travel on to France under the EU’s open-borders pact.

Al-Qaeda demands 90 million Euros for French hostages

RFI – March 21, 2011
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim) is demanding at least 90 million euros ransom for the release of four French hostages held since September, a source close to mediators indicated. The French citizens were kidnapped in September 2010 in neighbouring Niger, where France has a large stake in uranium mining, and are still being held hostage in the desert.
The kidnappers want at least 90 million euros and the release of Aqim prisoners held in several countries, including France, an anonymous source told the AFP news agency. An abortive rescue attempt resulted in the deaths of two French hostages in January. Three others, including one French citizen, were freed in February.

Blast at Tunisian consulate in Paris

French police said a “small explosion” occurred at the Tunisian consulate in a Paris suburb, which the country’s ambassador denounced as a “terrorist act”.The blast took place around 5:00 am at Tunisia’s office in Pantin and “caused minor damage to the consulate’s metal shutters,” said police, who have opened an investigation.

Tunisia’s ambassador to France, Raouf Najar, said in a statement sent to AFP: “The disinformation these past few days on what is happening in Tunisia is such that anything is possible, even this terrorist act.”

In Tunisia protests sparked by high youth unemployment and the rising cost of living have erupted across the north African country. At least nine people have died in the unrest, some from gunshot wounds and others committing suicide. The consulate in Pantin opened for business later Sunday morning with a police guard outside.

French Judge Expels Fully-Veiled Woman from Courtroom

News Agencies – October 8, 2010

A French court on Friday expelled a woman from the public gallery for wearing the full Islamic veil, the day after a law banning the garment cleared its final hurdle. “Those people whose faces are visible are allowed to remain in the room wearing their headscarves. However, not that woman in the front row with only the eyes visible,” said the presiding judge. “She is asked to leave the room or take off her veil,” she said during the hearing at Bobigny, northeast of Paris, in the case of two men accused of breaking into the home of a local imam who was in favour of the burqa ban.

“I’m not surprised. I was expecting it, but I still took the risk,” the expelled woman told AFP afterwards, identifying herself only as a 35-year-old from the nearby neighbourhood of Saint Denis.