Islamic militancy

Three French women charged with terror offences over Notre Dame gas cylinder plot

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 September, 2016, 12:48pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 September, 2016, 9:05pm

Three women arrested after a foiled plot to blow up a car packed with gas canisters near the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris have been charged with terror offences and remanded in custody, the prosecutor’s office said.

The women were detained last week after the discovery of the vehicle near Notre Dame on September 4. Police believe they were planning other attacks including striking a train station in the Paris area or targeting police.

The suspects - named as 19-year-old Ines Madani, 23-year-old Sarah Hervouet and 39-year-old Amel Sakaou - were brought before anti-terrorism judges on Monday and charged with involvement in a terrorist conspiracy.

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The two youngest were also charged with plotting to kill public officials, while Hervouet’s boyfriend was charged with failing to report a terrorist offence, a statement said.

The women are believed by police to have been spurred by repeated calls by the Islamic State group for attacks in France, with a known French IS recruiter, Rachid Kassim, believed to be linked to the case.

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France is on heightened alert after two grisly attacks in July - one in the southern resort of Nice, where a truck driver crushed 86 people to death and another in Normandy, where two men slit the throat of an elderly priest.

The women were arrested after police were alerted to a Peugeot 607 car parked near the Notre Dame cathedral in the middle of one of Paris’s busiest tourist spots.

It was found to contain five gas cylinders, three bottles of diesel and a half-smoked cigarette inside.

A fourth woman, Ornella Gilligmann, who has been charged with terrorism over the find, told police she and Madani had tried to set the vehicle alight but fled when they saw a man they believed to be a police officer approach.

Investigators moved quickly to arrest her suspected accomplices, believing them to be on the cusp of staging an attack.

During their arrest in the southern Paris suburb of Essonne, Hervouet stabbed a policeman, injuring him in the shoulder.Madani was shot in the leg after she also charged at an officer with a knife.