Paris Attacks: France’s Year of Terror

Sam Jones, Financial Times, November 15, 2015

France is on the front line of the terror threat posed by Isis in Europe.

More of its citizens have travelled to fight in the Middle East under the jihadi group’s black banners than from any other European nation. Schisms between disenfranchised Muslim communities and the rest of French society run deep.

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This year had been one of terror in France, even before Friday’s carnage. Some of the attacks were foiled.

Charlie Hebdo and Ile-de-France attacks, January 2015. 20 dead

Saïd and Cherif Kouachi, two brothers, murdered 11 and wounded 11 more in an assault on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. {snip}

Nice Jewish community centre attack, February

Moussa Coulibaly, 30, stabbed and wounded three soldiers guarding a Jewish community centre in Nice. Mr Coulibaly had been arrested the previous week in Istanbul because police there thought he was travelling to join Isis. He was deported back to France.

Villejuif church attack, April. 1 dead

Sid Ahmed Ghlam, 24, an Algerian national studying computer sciences in Paris, had planned to murder the congregations of two churches in a Parisian suburb. He killed a 33-year-old woman, Aurélie Châtelain, in her car but then accidentally shot himself in the leg. Police arrested him at the scene. His car was filled with automatic weapons. Accomplices were later arrested. Police say he had received instructions from Syria.

Air Products factory attack, June. 1 dead

Yassine Salhi, a French Muslim of north African descent, decapitated his former employer and tried to cause an explosion by driving his car into gas storage cylinders at an Air Products chemical factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, near Lyon. He placed Hervé Cornara’s head on railings outside the factory between two black banners. French authorities said Salhi had links to Isis. {snip}

Rhône military base attack, July

Four terror suspects, aged between 16 and 23, were arrested by police two days before they planned to attack the Fort Bear commando training base at Port-Vendres in the eastern Pyrenees. The youngest was released. French prosecutors say the other three had planned a rampage at the base, killing as many soldiers as they could before filming the beheading of the base’s commander. The ringleader, Djebril A, had served at the base as a naval signalman. At least one of the plotters had been in contact with Isis in Syria.

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Thalys train attack, August

Ayoub el-Khazzani, a 26-year-old Moroccan-born Spaniard, was tackled to the ground aboard a high-speed Amsterdam-Paris train by three Americans–two of whom were off-duty military personal–and a Briton. He had been carrying a Kalashnikov assault rifle, a knife, a pistol, 270 rounds of spare ammunition and a bottle of petrol. He was heard loading the weapon in a toilet cubicle and confronted when he emerged. Two people were injured but there were no fatalities.

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