French­man ac­cused of amass­ing ar­se­nal for Euro 2016 at­tacks

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

MOSCOW—A French­man who amassed an ar­se­nal of weapons, ex­plo­sives and tac­ti­cal gear was plot­ting to at­tack the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship soc­cer tour­na­ment and was ar­rested try­ing to cross into the Euro­pean Union from Ukraine, of­fi­cials said Mon­day.

Ukrainian agents had been fol­low­ing the man since De­cem­ber, and al­lowed him to buy five ma­chine guns, two rock­et­pro­pelled grenade launch­ers, 125 kilo­grams (275 pounds) of TNT, 100 det­o­na­tors and other arms. He also bought 20 bal­a­clavas be­fore he was ar­rested at the Ya­ho­dyn bor­der cross­ing be­tween Ukraine and Poland last month, the Ukrainian Se­cu­rity Ser­vice said.

The in­tel­li­gence agency, known as the SBU, “has man­aged to foil a se­ries of 15 ter­ror­ist at­tacks which were planned to tar­get France be­fore and dur­ing” Euro 2016, said its chief, Va­syl Hryt­sak.

Ukraine didn’t iden­tify the man but said the sus­pect wanted to protest his govern­ment’s mi­gra­tion poli­cies and the spread of Is­lam. It said he planned at­tacks on bridges, rail­ways and other in­fra­struc­ture for the Euro 2016.

The Paris pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice, which han­dles ter­ror­ism cases at a na­tional level, said no in­ves­ti­ga­tion had been opened yet. France’s for­eign min­istry con­firmed the ar­rest in Ukraine, but of­fered no details.

Ex­trem­ist at­tacks are a ma­jor con­cern for French au­thor­i­ties as they pre­pare to host the month­long tour­na­ment at sta­di­ums in the Paris area and eight other cities from Fri­day through July 10. Is­lamic State ex­trem­ists have threat­ened France dur­ing the tour­na­ment, but au­thor­i­ties haven’t con­firmed spe­cific dan­gers.

France is de­ploy­ing a 90,000-strong se­cu­rity force for the tour­na­ment, and Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande said Sun­day night that the threat of at­tacks won’t stop it from be­ing suc­cess­ful.

The Paris po­lice pre­fect, Michel Cadot, de­clined to com­ment Mon­day on the in­for­ma­tion from Ukraine, say­ing only that “there is no spe­cific threat against any (Euro 2016) site.”

Ukraine’s in­tel­li­gence agency went pub­lic about the ar­rest af­ter re­ports in international me­dia, Hryt­sak told na­tional tele­vi­sion.

French re­gional news­pa­per L’Est Repub­li­cain iden­ti­fied the man as Gre­goire Moutaux and said in­ves­ti­ga­tors raided his home in Nant-le-Petit near the eastern city of Nancy in late May. The source for the man’s iden­tity wasn’t cited. French tele­vi­sion net­work M6 re­ported that in­ves­ti­ga­tors found Tshirts pro­mot­ing an ex­treme right group.

Ukrainian au­thor­i­ties re­leased pho­tos of a fair-haired man, with his face blurred, hold­ing var­i­ous weapons, as well as a video of the ar­rest which showed spe­cial forces of­fi­cers drag­ging the man out of a white mini­van and putting him face down on the ground of what looked like a park­ing lot.

The French­man ar­rived in eastern Ukraine last year and was “try­ing to es­tab­lish ties with Ukrainian troops un­der the guise of vol­un­teer­ing,” the Ukrainian agency said.

Ukrainian troops and Rus­sia-backed sep­a­ratists have fought in the east since April 2014, killing nearly 9,400 peo­ple. It wasn’t im­me­di­ately clear which side of the con­flict the French­man had stayed with.

“The French­man spoke neg­a­tively about his govern­ment’s mi­gra­tion poli­cies, the spread of Is­lam and glob­al­iza­tion,” the SBU said. “He also said that he wanted to per­pe­trate acts of ter­ror in protest.”

Cadot, the po­lice pre­fect, said se­cu­rity mea­sures tested since the Nov. 13 at­tacks in Paris that killed 130 vic­tims have been adapted to fit Euro 2016. In those at­tacks, three sui­cide bombers det­o­nated their ex­plo­sives at the na­tional sta­dium, while two other squads of at­tack­ers un­leashed gun­fire in cen­tral Paris.

Cadot promised “a close se­cu­rity perime­ter and an outer se­cu­rity cor­don that will cre­ate a bub­ble even be­fore the check­points.” He said vis­ual con­trols, bag and ticket checks and some pat-downs aim to stop some­one from car­ry­ing in ex­plo­sives.—AP

Ukrainian In­tel­li­gence Agency (SBU) agents de­tain a sus­pect at the Ya­ho­dyn bor­der cross­ing on the Ukrainian-Pol­ish bor­der, Ukraine.

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