France under Terrorist Threat
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For the past couple weeks, the threat alert in France has been high as intelligence agencies from the US and EU have picked up on widespread and credible hints at a terrorist plot of coordinated attacks on targets in Europe, particularly in France. This in the wake of French nationals being kidnapped in Niger by Al-Qaeda affiliates and bomb alerts against the Eiffel Tower, and French transport systems.
French weekly Le Point talks about how the French government is communicating on this issue, with predictable criticism coming from left and right about how they are creating panic. But according to French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux, there is a “real threat of an imminent attack.” And Police Director Frédéric Péchenard adds that “we have serious indications from reliable intelligence sources that there is a risk of a big attack.”
Meanwhile, the CIA is upping drone attacks of militants in Pakistan in an effort to hamper terrorist threats against European targets.
As the Wall Street Journal stated, “authorities said that they had uncovered a suicide bombing plot to attack the Paris subway linked to Al-Qaeda’s North African affiliate….the threat might be connected to France’s recent vote to ban the wearing of burqas.”
The US Embassy in Paris has issued this warning against attacks.
Authorities are trying to prevent a repeat of the 1995 Paris metro bombings and related scares or something even worse.
Louis Caprioli, former anti-terrorist intelligence chief at DST (Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire) (former French intelligence services agency, now part of the larger DCRI), was interviewed by Le Figaro here talking about how there is a real threat notably from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb including Algerian networks that use women suicide bombers.
Stay alert, stay safe, but don’t let this interrupt your daily life, of course. Il faut vivre.
Very active within the American community of France, Michael Barrett is a communications consultant, freelance translator and English teacher. He writes a must-read blog for expats called American Expat In France. Michael can be reached by email here.
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