Two Frenchmen charged with plotting terror attack from their prison cells

Prosecutors have filed terror charges against two suspected jihadists believed to have been planning to carry out an attack after their upcoming release from prison, sources close to the case said Monday.
The men discussed the would-be plot, which included possibly taking hostages or machine-gunning victims, while they were serving time in Fresnes prison south of Paris.
“These two radical Islamists wanted to set up a group of fighters with the aim of… various actions outside prison,” said one of the probe sources.
One of the suspects is a 28-year-old Cameroonian described by authorities as an Islamic State group sympathizer, while the other is a 22-year-old Frenchman.
Both were behind bars for non-terror offenses and were suspected of being radicalized while serving their sentences. They were charged Friday with being part of a terrorist conspiracy. The Cameroonian man was also believed to have been in contact with a person in Iraq or Syria, where Islamic State is under pressure from a US-led coalition.

2 men arrested near Paris planned terror attack, wanted to join ISIS

Two men who were arrested following the discovery of explosive materials and components at an apartment in a Paris suburb of Villejuif wanted to make a bomb to commit a terrorist attack, Paris’ prosecutor has said.

 

“They had agreed to commit an attack on the [French] territory to take revenge on the coalition but they had not worked out any specific plan to date,” Francois Mollins said at a news conference Sunday.

The prosecutor added that one of the suspects admitted the two considered attacking soldiers who were deployed to locations deemed vulnerable for the terrorist attacks. The plot was uncovered as part of Operation Sentinel that was launched following the November 2015 Paris attacks and is part of the ongoing state of emergency.

Both suspects admitted that they wanted to join Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) and leave for Syria or Iraq as early as in 2015 but they could not because of a “lack contacts and financial means.” The pair added they were planning to carry out an attack in the name of the terrorist group.

One of the suspects identified as Frederique L, 37, was “in direct contact” with Rachid Kassim, a French jihadist, who joined IS and left France to fight in Syria and Iraq.

Kassim, who was killed in a US airstrike in February, is suspected of being the instigator of several terrorist attacks on French soil, including the double murder of police officers in Magnaville in June 2016 and the attack on the Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray church in northern France.

On Wednesday, 105 grams of TATP were accidentally discovered in an apartment located in Villejuif along with a liter of sulfuric acid, a liter of hydrochloric acid as well as 8 liters of acetone and a bottle of hydrogen peroxide.

Mollins said “the substances discovered at the scene could be used to produce between three and four kilos of TATP.” Investigators also found components needed to make a detonator, including wires, electric batteries, match heads and bulbs from Christmas wreaths.

A USB device containing videos showing a series of explosives tests on the terrace of the Villejuif apartment raided by the police was also found at the scene. Islamic State propaganda videos on a computer belonging to one of the suspects and leaflets with inscriptions in Arabic were also found in the apartment.

30 Frenchmen injured in terror attacks

According to recent figures, the number of Frenchmen injured in the August 17 terror attacks has risen to 30. “We visited several hospitals in the city, notably those that are treating French victims. I spoke for several minutes with a father who had just arrived in Barcelona when the attacks occurred,” said journalist Véronique Gaglione.

According to the father, he had gathered with his family: his cousin, his brother and his brother’s wife, and their two daughters, who were uninjured. “But his son was in critical condition. He is hospitalized in a separate building and has not been able to see him since the accident. There are 30 injured Frenchmen, 14 of whom remain hospitalized. Among those injured are 6 children, 5 of whom have life threatening injuries. There are no immediate plans to evacuate them to France,” the journalist concluded.

UK Communities Secretary says Muslims need to do more to stop radicalisation

In response to the recent terror attacks in London and Manchester, UK Conservative Party politician, Sajid Javid argued that Muslims have an added responsibility to limit extremism than that of other British residents. Javid is a Muslim himself and services as the Communities Secretary.

He argues against the “well-meaning” idea that the attacks have nothing to do with Islam, saying that the Muslim community needs to do more “soul searching” to find the links between Islam and terrorism.

He believes the only people who can stop terrorism are young Muslims speaking out and showing that “this is not their fight and they want no part of it.”

 

Tariq Ramadan: Stigmatising Muslims is a counterproductive response to terror attacks

Tariq Ramadan, a prominent Muslim thinker and a professor at the University of Oxford, first argues that “it is important for us to be consistent in our condemnation of these criminal acts, and to maintain our support for all the victims, whoever they are, wherever they live.”

He argues for bringing all people together against senseless violence in the UK and globally. He warns that “to portray criminal acts as part of an ideological battle between extremist, anti-western Muslims and western people and values” alienates Muslims and ignores Muslim victims.

In his opinion, the demonisation of Islam contributes to radicalisation. More security is not the answer to the problem of terrorism. Rather, domestic policy needs to be meaningfully pluralistic and foreign policy should be based in economic and social justice. This includes recognising the British role in promoting  oppression abroad, including the effects of the Balfour Declaration on Palestinians and the effects of the invasion of Iraq on both Iraqis and Syrians.

UK Communities Secretary says Muslims need to do more to stop radicalisation

In response to the recent terror attacks in London and Manchester, Muslim Communities Secretary Sajid Javid argues that Muslims have an added responsibility to limit extremism.

He argues against the ‘well-meaning’ idea that the attacks have nothing to do with Islam, saying that the Muslim community needs to do more ‘soul searching’ to find the links between Islam and terrorism.

He believes the only people who can stop terrorism are young Muslims speaking out.

Terror attack at Orly airport

A “radicalized Muslim” known to security services has been shot dead after attempting to steal a soldier’s gun at Paris Orly Airport.

The 39-year-old French citizen, identified as Ziyed Ben Belgacem, shot at police officers manning a checkpoint in northern Paris with an “air pistol” before launching the airport attack, the French interior minister said.

During a visit to the airport, Bruno Le Roux said one officer was shot during the routine check and was undergoing hospital treatment for injuries to his face.

“We can link the [airport attacker’s] identity with a check carried out at Garges-les-Gonesse by a patrol in Stains this morning,” he added.

 

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told a news conference on Saturday evening that at the airport, Belgacem yelled he wanted to die in the name of Allah and said “whatever happens, there will be deaths”.

Mr Molins said the attacker held an air pistol to a soldier’s head and used her as a shield. He apparently wanted to use her weapon to shoot people in the busy airport.

Contrary to earlier reports by French officials, Mr Molins said the attacker did wrench away her powerful military-grade assault rifle.

The soldier’s colleagues fired three bursts – eight rounds in all – when they killed him.

Belgacem had a lengthy criminal history of violence, robbery and drug offences but was not on the “fiche S” list of terror threats, despite being investigated by the DGSI as a potential jihadi after indications of Islamist radicalisation emerged in 2015.

Mr Molins said three people were being held in police custody, and that Belgacem’s choice of target and evidence that he had been radicalised justified launching a terrorism investigation.

Belgacem is believed to have been radicalized in prison and was put under surveillance after being freed, although it was unclear when monitoring stopped.

Prosecutors said no evidence of extremism was uncovered in a search of his home, which was among scores raided in the immediate aftermath of the Paris attacks.

“The individual’s identity is known to the police and intelligence services.” Belgacem’s father and brother, as well as a cousin, have been detained for questioning.

Post-election spate of hate crimes worse than post-9/11, experts say

What may seem like a dramatic rise in the number of hate harassment and hate incidents happening across the country in the wake of Tuesday’s general election is not in anyone’s imagination, experts say.

There indeed has been a spike in the number of reports of such incidents, say representatives for two organizations that track such occurrences. A representative for one group, in fact, said the rise appears to be even worse that what was took place immediately after the terror attacks in 2001.

“Since the election, we’ve seen a big uptick in incidents of vandalism, threats, intimidation spurred by the rhetoric surrounding Mr. Trump’s election,” Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., told USA TODAY. “The white supremacists out there are celebrating his victory and many are feeling their oats,” Cohen said.

Pope receives French Muslim leaders at the Vatican

 

 

The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) met with Pope Francis on November 3. The meeting was organized by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, which brings together 200 leaders from different religions.

The delegation was accompanied by Michel Dubost, the Bishop of Evry and president of the Council for Interreligious Relations of the Bishops’ Conference of France, and Vincent Feroldi, director of National Services for Islam Relations (SNRM).

It’s not the first time French Muslim leaders have met with the current Pope. A delegation was received by the Vatican in January 2015, which coincided with the the Paris attacks. The most recent meeting follows the terror attack in July, when a priest, Jacque Hamel, was murdered in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.

The meeting came with “highly symbolic significance, to send a message of harmony and fraternity,” said the CFCM president.

 

Hollande: France must ’embrace’ Islam

President Francois Hollande called for the creation of “an Islam of France” and the removal of foreign-trained extremist imams in a key speech Thursday on the challenges radical Islam poses to democracy.

Addressing the debate surrounding Islam following a summer of terror attacks and burkini bans, he stressed that French secularism was not at odds with the religion.
“Nothing in the idea of secularism is opposed to the practice of Islam in France, as long — and that is the vital point — as it complies with the law,” Hollande said in Paris, stressing that secularism was “not a religion of the state that stands against all other religions.”
“What we need to succeed in together is the creation of an Islam of France,” Hollande said.
He said that this could be achieved through the new Foundation for Islam in France, a measure announced in the wake of the terror attacks to improve relations between the state and the country’s large Muslim community, which accounts for between 7% and 9% of the population.
Longtime French politician Jean-Pierre Chevènement was appointed head of the foundation last month. Hollande said France also needed to create “a national association in order to obtain financing for the building of mosques and the training of imams.”
“The republic cannot accept a situation where a majority of imams are trained abroad and sometimes don’t speak our language,” he said. France’s rules of secularism prohibit the use of state funds for places of worship, and there have been concerns about the radical vision of Islam practiced in some foreign-funded mosques. At least 20 Muslim places of worship have been closed due to extremism since December, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in July.
Hollande said that radical Islam had created “a fake state, led by real killers. It skews the Islamic religion to spread its hatred.”