French court charges man over plan to at­tack church

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A French anti-ter­ror­ism court on Fri­day charged a 29-year-old man in con­nec­tion with a thwarted bid to at­tack a church near Paris in 2015, the prose­cu­tor’s of­fice said. The man, charged with as­so­ci­a­tion with a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion, is sus­pected of hav­ing given the Al­ge­rian man who planned to as­sault a church south of Paris the ma­te­rial he needed for the at­tack.

The man’s DNA has been found on a bul­let-proof vest that was kept in the home of the would-be at­tacker, whose name is Sid Ahmed Gh­lam. Af­ter he was charged, the man was re­leased on bail pend­ing fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Three other men, who were also ar­rested ear­lier this week in con­nec­tion to the case, have also been re­leased.

French au­thor­i­ties are cur­rently in­ves­ti­gat­ing four more men in con­nec­tion with the planned Villejuif dis­trict church at­tack. They too are ac­cused of pro­vid­ing Gh­lam with weapons and equip­ment to be used in the planned as­sault.

Gh­lam, an Al­ge­rian IT stu­dent, was ar­rested in April 2015 on sus­pi­cion of killing a young woman who was found shot dead in the pas­sen­ger seat of her car and of plan­ning a church at­tack.

The at­tack failed af­ter he shot him­self in the leg by ac­ci­dent, lead­ing po­lice to un­cover his al­leged plot.

Prose­cu­tors have found doc­u­ments about Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group at his home. They also found four Kalash­nikov as­sault ri­fles, two hand­guns and bul­let-proof vests in his room. In­ves­ti­ga­tors say he planned to carry out the church as­sault three months af­ter ji­hadists at­tacked the Char­lie Hebdo satir­i­cal mag­a­zine and a Jewish su­per­mar­ket in Paris. While 25-year-old Gh­lam has ad­mit­ted to in­ves­ti­ga­tors that he was or­dered by ji­hadists op­er­at­ing on the Turk­ish-Syr­ian border to at­tack a church, he has de­nied any role in the young woman’s death. The woman’s DNA has been found on the coat he was wear­ing, and weapons ex­perts say the bul­let that killed her was likely fired from his gun.

France has faced a string of deadly ji­hadist at­tacks since 2015, in­clud­ing the Novem­ber 13 tragedy that saw Islamic State re­cruits armed with as­sault ri­fles and ex­plo­sives strike a foot­ball match, Paris cafes and a con­cert hall.

Then on July 26 this year, at­tack­ers slit the throat of a priest in a hostage-tak­ing at his church in the Nor­mandy town of Sain­tE­ti­enne-du -Rou­vray. —AFP

VILLEJUIF, France: This file photo taken on March 20, 2016, shows a car trans­ported by a po­lice ve­hi­cle ar­riv­ing for the re­con­sti­tu­tion of the mur­der of Aure­lie Chate­lain, on March 20, 2016. —AFP

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