(photo credit: Archives)
A terrorist who planned to bomb an IDF fundraising event in Paris was arrested
in Egypt and extradited to France, Bernard Squarcini, the head of the French
counter-espionage and counter-terrorism intelligence agency, said in an
interview released Saturday.
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The event took place in March and was
attended by about 1,500 people. The IDF representative was OC Navy V.-Adm.
Eliezer Marom. Last year, the IDF representative was the military attaché in
Washington, Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni.
Defense officials said that Israel was
not aware at the time of the IDF fund-raiser that a terrorist had been recruited
to bomb the event.
Israel has been updated by French intelligence
services regarding the arrest of the suspected terrorist – who has Tunisian
citizenship, speaks fluent French and is believed to have been affiliated with
“A lot of the Jews in Paris are of Tunisian origin,” a senior
Israeli defense official said. “This is likely the reason a Tunisian was
chosen,” as he could more easily infiltrate the event, the official
Although he did not specify when the arrest had occurred,
Squarcini said that the risk of a terrorist attack is now as high as it was in
1995, before the attacks on the Paris subway by Algerian Islamic extremists that
killed eight and wounded hundreds.
Squarcini told the Journal du Dimanche
newspaper that France’s history as a colonial master in North Africa, its
military presence in Afghanistan and a proposal aimed at banning fully-covering
veils in public all make the country a prime target for certain radical Islamist
“Objectively, there are reasons for worry. The threat has never
been as high” as now, the interview quotes Squarcini as saying. “We foil an
average of two [planned] attacks a year, but one day or another, we’re going to
Squarcini said the threat is threefold, coming from an Algerian
insurgent group that has targeted French interests in the region in the past and
allied itself with al-Qaida several years ago – becoming the international
terrorist network’s North African affiliate – as well as radical French converts
to Islam and French nationals who have trained with extremist groups in
Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.
“All [such] scenarios are possible,”
He added that before the 1995 Paris subway attacks, the
risk came solely from insurgent groups from France’s former colony,
One such group, the Armed Islamic Group, claimed responsibility
for those attacks.
Next week, the Senate, the upper house of the French
parliament, will vote on a bill that would ban the wearing of burqas or niqabs,
fully-covering Islamic veils, in public places in France.
which was overwhelmingly approved in the lower house of the parliament in July,
drew the indignation of al-Qaida’s No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, who said the drive
to ban the veil amounted to discrimination against Muslim women.
terror alert level remains at red, the second-highest rank out of
four.AP contributed to this report.