France: Attack in Paris foiled

France: Attack in Paris foiled

On December 16, 2008, French police arrested a Muslim convert together with six other people.  On the same day, police found dynamite in a Paris department store, together with a note threatening more attacks unless France pulled out of Afghanistan.  At the time intelligence experts said that, based on the note, Islamists were not behind the department store threat. Apparently, the Islamists had another target that day.


Le Point offers an exclusive interview with Bernard Squarcini, head of the French counter-terrorism agency (DCRI).  He reveals teh secrets of how he tracks terrorists.  "Our obsession is to anticipate, that is, to neutralize the terrorists before they strike," he says.  Bernard Squarcini confirms that last year an Islamist cell plotted an attack in the Paris region.
The choice of the target was meant to grab people's attention: The DCRI building in the Levallois-Perret suburb of Paris - the seat of French counter-espionage.  A young French convert to Islam, a graduate in electronics - Rany A. was plotting a car bomb attack against the building when the police came to arrest him at his home in Presles-en-Brie (Seine-et-Marne), on Dec. 16th, 2008

He had located the place, planned to steal 200 kg of chemical fertilizer from a neighboring business, and asked an accomplice to steal a truck to prepare a bomb on wheels.  But he did not know he was under surveillance for months.  The attention of the police was drawn to him on March 2007 by messages exchanged by the young Islamist via encrypted mail which a French Jihadist arrested in Iraq, Peter Cherif, a member of a cell from the 19th arrondissement of Paris fighting Americans, who had just escaped from the Abu Ghraib prison.

In Syria, Cherif surrendered at the end of 2007 and he is now in the Santé Prison.  Since then, police examined in details the efforts by Rany to recruit brothers in arms.  They saw his radicalizing behavior scared his family.  He went to Syria in 2007 and twice to Algeria in 2008.  His visits to an internet site linked to al-Qaeda and the offers of service that he made convinced the police to intervene.  The anti-terrorist judge Marc Trévidic indicted him for criminal association to commit terrorist acts.  He's also in prison now.

Source: Le Point (French), h/t Bivouac-ID

See also:
* Paris: Terrorist arrests continue
* France/Italy: Al-Qaeda cell investigation

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