French Prime Minister: France Foiling Terror Plots ‘Daily’September 14, 2016 in France
The French Prime Minister has disclosed that the country’s security services are foiling terror plots and dismantling militant networks “every day.”
Speaking to French media, Prime Minister Manuel Valls stated, “today the threat is at a maximum, and we are a target,” adding, “every day intelligence services, police, foil attacks, dismantle networks, track terrorists. There are about 15,000 people in France who are monitored, because these people are in the process of radicalization.” The Prime Minister warned that there will be further attacks. Authorities had previously indicated that about 10,000 were identified as high-risk.
The report comes in the wake of two high-profile arrests. On 10 September, a boy of 15 as arrested at his home in Paris on suspicion of planning an attack over the weekend. Investigators have reported that he had been under surveillance since April and had been in touch with a French member of the so-called Islamic State (IS) group, Rachid Kassim. Meanwhile on 4 September, a car loaded with gas cylinders was found near Notre Dame cathedral and jerry cans of diesel, leading to the discovery of a plot to attack a Paris railway station under the direction of IS. Seven people, including four women, have since been arrested. Prosecutors have since charged one of the women, Ornella G (29), with alleged involvement in a terrorist attack and attempted murder. On Friday, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins disclosed that Ornella G’s fingerprints had been found inside the car. She was known to intelligence agents as someone who was considering going to Syria. She was arrested on Tuesday in southern France along with her boyfriend, who has since been released. The three other women were questioned by police and are alleged to have been planning other “imminent and violent” attacks. One of the women stabbed a police officer during her arrest. It has been reported that French Islamist militant Kassim also guided one of the women. French newspaper Le Monde has reported that Kassim is currently in Syria and has used Telegram, the messaging service, to call for more attacks in France. Sources have disclosed that Kassim, 29, inspired two men who carried out an attack in July in a French church during which they slit the throat of the elderly priest.
While France has been under a state of emergency since IS attacks on Paris in November 2015, which killed 130 people, a recent commission of inquiry found that the state of emergency was only having a “limited impact” on improving security. The commission has also questioned the deployment of between 6,000 and 7,000 soldiers to protect schools, synagogues, department stores and other sensitive sites.
Security is becoming a central issue in the run-up to next year’s presidential election. Mr Valls however has stated that proposals by former French President Nicholas Sarkozy, to set up special courts and detention centres are not the answer. In August, Mr Sarkozy announced that he would run again for the presidency, stating, “every Frenchman suspected of being linked to terrorism, because he regularly consults a jihadist website, or his behaviour shows signs of radicalisations or because is in close contact with radicalized people, must be preventively placed in a detention centre.”