Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE INTERVIEW

‘Mexico will not finance US wall,’ foreign minister says

Read more

ACROSS AFRICA

African nations need to prepare for potential return of thousands of jihadists

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

DR Congo former child soldiers awarded $10 mn in damages in landmark ruling

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Website roots out "Rotten Apples"

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Putin's press conference, Alabama election, One Planet Summit, Brexit Phase II, Disney & Fox

Read more

#TECH 24

WorldRemit: Helping migrant workers send money back home

Read more

FOCUS

The challenges awaiting the new leader of South Africa's ANC

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Bangladeshi PM calls violence in Myanmar 'unacceptable'

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

Was 2017 the worst year for the environment?

Read more

France

Three women charged over foiled Paris terror plot

© Miguel Medina / AFP | Soldiers on patrol in Paris on September 10, 2016.

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2016-09-13

Three women arrested after a foiled plot to blow up a car packed with gas canisters near the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris were charged with terror offences on Monday and remanded in custody, the prosecutor's office said.

The women were detained last week after the discovery of the vehicle near Notre Dame on September 4. Police believe they were planning other attacks including striking a train station in the Paris area or targeting police.

The suspects -- named as 19-year-old Ines M., 23-year-old Sarah H. and 39-year-old Amel S. -- were brought before anti-terrorism judges on Monday and charged with involvement in a terrorist conspiracy.

The two youngest were also charged with plotting to kill public officials, while H.'s boyfriend was charged with failing to report a terrorist offence, a statement said.

The women are believed by police to have been spurred by repeated calls by the Islamic State group for attacks in France, with a known French IS recruiter believed to be linked to the case.

France is on heightened alert after two grisly attacks in July -- one in the southern resort of Nice, where a truck driver crushed 86 people to death and another in Normandy, where two men slit the throat of an elderly priest.

The country has been repeated targeted by Islamic extremists in the last two years, with an assault on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in January 2015 followed by a rampage by gunmen in Paris in November.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Sunday said the terror threat was at a "maximum" and that the authorities were foiling attacks and smashing jihadist networks "every day".

As many as 15,000 people were considered by French authorities as radicals who posed a potential threat, he added.

Sources close to the investigation said the women had discussed obtaining suicide belts or ramming cars filled with explosives into buildings.

One of them was found in possession of a letter professing her allegiance to IS, which ordered the carnage in Paris in November that left 130 people dead.

A 15-year-old boy arrested in eastern Paris at the weekend was also brought before investigating magistrates on Monday to be charged with conspiring to commit attacks.

The youth had written to contacts on Telegram -- an encrypted messaging app widely used by jihadists to communicate -- of his plans to carry out a knife attack, sources said.

Links to Notre Dame plot

The women were arrested after police were alerted to a Peugeot 607 car parked near the Notre Dame cathedral in the middle of one of Paris's busiest tourist spots on September 4.

It was found to contain five gas cylinders, three bottles of diesel and a half-smoked cigarette inside.

A fourth woman, Ornella G., who has been charged with terrorism over the find, told police she and M. had tried to set the vehicle alight but fled when they saw a man they believed to be a police officer approach.

Investigators moved quickly to arrest her suspected accomplices, believing them to be on the cusp of staging an attack.

During their arrest in the southern Paris suburb of Essonne, H. stabbed a policeman, injuring him in the shoulder.

M. was shot in the leg after she also charged at an officer with a knife.

Both were known to police for their links to Islamist radicals.

A police search of one of the women's homes found seven empty glass bottles and pieces of paper that "could look like paper fuses" but no explosives.

Encrypted messages

The case has highlighted the possible role of 29-year-old IS member Rachid Kassim, a Frenchman thought to have links to a string of attacks and plotters. Police believe he is directing jihadists over Telegram.

Kassim has regularly appeared in IS propaganda videos shot in Syria or Iraq. He is said to have been in contact with M. and the 15-year-old boy arrested in eastern Paris at the weekend.

He also exchanged messages with the murderers of priest Jacques Hamel.

H. had been in a relationship with Adel Kermiche, one of Hamel's killers.

Before that she had been seeing Larossi Abballa who stabbed a police couple to death at their home near Paris in June.

Both men were shot dead by police.

(AFP)

Date created : 2016-09-13

  • FRANCE

    Woman charged over failed attack on Paris's Notre Dame

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Paris police identify French IS group suspect ‘with key links to terror plots’

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    French police arrest 15-year-old suspected of planning terror attack

    Read more

COMMENT(S)