French authorities have foiled five terrorist attacks this year, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb revealed, with local media reporting that, in at least two cases, radicalized suspects had plotted to target gay and swinger groups.
Two alleged Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) radicals, aged 21 and 22, were arrested in the eastern Paris suburb of Seine-et-Marne, were indicted on Tuesday by an anti-terror judge for “criminal terrorist conspiracy” and remain in custody, pending trial. France’s intelligence service DGSI managed to foil their alleged planned attack by monitoring the online chatter of an alleged jihadist cell, Collomb revealed on Thursday.
“This case began in January, when two individuals exchanged regularly with Daesh [IS],” the Interior Minister explained, speaking at Dinéault gendarmerie school near of Châteaulin. “We listen a lot to what happens on the Internet,” he added, praising the use of electronic surveillance.
ℹ️ @gerardcollomb se félicite des interpellations, le 9 juin en Seine-et-Marne, de deux individus soupçonnés de préparer un attentat terroriste. Les deux hommes ont été mis en examen et écroués à l'issue de leur garde à vue pic.twitter.com/dDjMtxf6kN
— Ministère de l'Intérieur (@Place_Beauvau) June 14, 2018
During the raid on the suspects’ apartment, authorities discovered “combat knives and components that would create explosives,” as well as IS-related material. “It’s the fifth time this year that such a preventive action has permitted security forces to foil what would have been a violent act,” the Interior Ministry said, without offering any details.
While Collomb did not disclose the potential targets of the alleged planned attacks, French news outlets have reported, citing sources close to the investigation, that the pair had plotted against the LGBT community. “Their plan was still ill-defined at this stage, but there were elements to suggest they planned to attack homosexuals,” one source told AFP.
Another terrorist suspect was arrested following a knife attack in the Opera district of Paris on May 12, in which one pedestrian was killed. Amid tightened security measures, authorities managed to track down and detain a 38-year-old “radicalized convert” at Chateauroux, in central France.
“An improvised explosive device was found at his home and the man admitted that he wanted to use it to target a swingers’ club,” a source told AFP, adding that, four days later, the individual was indicted for “associating with terrorist criminals” and “preparing an act of terrorism.”
In addition to the latest successful anti-terror ops, in May the French authorities reportedly also foiled an attack being planned by an Egyptian man, while, in January, a man was arrested in Gard, southern France, over an alleged terrorist plot.
France had witnessed an unprecedented wave of jihadist attacks in early 2015, that left over 200 people dead and hundreds injured. The biggest loss of life took place in November of that year, when 130 people were killed in coordinated attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis, a northern Parisian suburb. The country remains on high alert, even though the countrywide state of emergency was eventually lifted late last year and replaced with a sweeping new anti-terrorism law.
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