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article imageFrench police foil terrorist plot to blow up the Eiffel Tower

By James Green     Jul 10, 2014 in World
A 29-year-old Algerian man living in Vaucluse, a south eastern region of France, has been arrested for allegedly plotting to blow up the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and a nuclear power plant, among other targets.
The daily French newspaper Le Parisien is reporting police have foiled a terrorist plot targeting historical French landmarks, cultural festivals, night clubs, and "aircraft during takeoff." An Algerian butcher, known only as Ali M, has been taken into custody.
In an interesting twist, according to The Telegraph, Ali M's lawyer Daphné Pugliesi said he had been brainwashed, and "the arrest was a relief for him."
Ali M allegedly used encryption software to exchange messages with a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). To conceal their identifies the two individuals used fake online personae, Ali M used the alias Abu Naji, and the al-Qaeda member used Redouane18.
In April 2013, Redouane18 asked Abu Naji to make "suggestions concerning how to conduct jihad in the place you are currently.” Abu Naji's response included targets such as nuclear power plants, "aircraft during takeoff," tourist attractions such as "the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre," bars and nightclubs, and "cultural events taking place in cities in the south of France during which thousands of Christians gather for a month," which is believed to be a reference to the Avignon Festival.
In a disturbing excerpt from his messages with AQIM, Ali M speculates about the devastating potential of an attack on the Avignon festival, "The roads become thick with people and just a single grenade would be enough to hurt dozens of people," he continued, "Imagine the effect of an improvised explosive device (IED)."
Ali M was invited to meet leaders of AQIM in the Saharan desert, south of Alegeria. In May 2013, Ali M told his AQIM handler he had booked a flight in July to travel to Algeria, via Tunisia. Members of the French DGSI intelligence department arrested him a week before his departure, he has remained in custody for the past year awaiting trial.
French judge Marc Trévidic told Le Parisien he does not think Ali M is an isolated case, "There are doubtless others on our soil programmed to harm French interests."
More about France, Eiffel tower, Terrorism, Nuclear power plant, Louvre
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