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Friday, February 16, 2007

A Madrid Redux: potential terror attacks during forthcoming French presidential elections

By Olivier Guitta

Some recent French intelligence reports leaked to Le Monde and Al Hayat are pointing to that possible threat during the April-May 2007 French presidential elections.

Al Hayat specifically mentioned Al Qaeda related websites calling for attacks against France along with pictures of French presidential campaign.
But for the time being, police officers do not have any information on concrete preparations of attack. However, the recent reports dated January 15, testify to the constant attention paid to the GSPC now called Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Two threats are mentioned here.The first, appeared in December 2005, relates to threats of attack related to “Al-Qaida executives in Pakistani-Afghan zone”, without more precision.
The second one is called” threat of autumn": it focuses on “planning, from the Middle East, of a wave of suicide attacks against a European country not identified, anywhere between September 2006 and April 2007”. The threat would not come inevitably from a possible GSPC cell in Europe. But could come from the transformation of a supporting cell into an operational one and also could be the work of isolated individuals influenced by the GSPC propaganda, in particular via Internet. All the services noted an increasingly assiduous use of Islamist forums. Proof of growing success: a French-speaking site has triple the number of registered members in six months. The police officers noticed a frequent diffusion of satellite views, obtained through Google Earth. For instance, the recent Islamist group dismantled in Tunisia, in January, “had views of the British and American embassies in Tunis and of the French one in Rabat, Morocco.”. Another Islamist site named “PACT OF THE EVIL” , known for helping with the manufacturing of explosives, even put on its site information on the sewers of Paris, which could be a potential target or a way of escape.

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