French police find explosives in terror search

Police uncover bomb-making materials in a garage near Paris as part of investigation into attack on Jewish market last month.

French special police 370 (photo credit: Christian Hartman/Reuters)
French special police 370
(photo credit: Christian Hartman/Reuters)
French anti-terror police on Wednesday found bomb-making materials and chemicals in a garage near Paris during their investigation into an anti-Jewish Islamist network suspected of being behind last month’s attack on a Jewish grocery store in Sarcelles.
The raid was led by the police anti-terrorist units in several cities across France. In Strasbourg, the prime suspect, Jeremie Louis Sidney, 33, was shot dead after he opened fire on police officers.
During the course of the operation, 12 suspects were arrested. The investigation brought the police to a garage, property of one the suspects, located in Torcy where the findings included “a shotgun, a revolver, potassium, nitrate, sulphur and a pressure cooker,” said prosecutor Francois Molins.
“These are all products used to make so-called improvised explosives,” said the prosecutor.
The suspects would be held for a further 24 hours, he added, and “the detention of the dozen could be extended by a further six days if necessary,” he said, “it is essential to extend their stay in custody.”
Four of the men arrested Saturday had written wills and one was carrying gun – all signs, according to specialists, of the intention to die as a shahid (martyr) after perpetrating terrorist attacks.
“We are clearly confronted with an extremely dangerous terrorist network,” said the prosecutor.
Over the weekend, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls warned, on France 2 television, against “the threat of terrorism in France.” He told French radio RTL that the attacks are “directed mainly against Jews,” and “Jewish hatred is conducted over the web.”
On Sunday, French President Francois Hollande met with the heads of the French Jewish community and promised them to “fight with intransigence against racism and anti- Semitism.”
“Any act, any words, will be punished most severely,” said Hollande.
At the same time as the meeting was in process, reported French TV, witnesses heard blanks shot in the direction of a synagogue in the town Argenteuil near Paris.
After the meeting, Joel Merguy, president of the Jewish community told France 2, “We never make an amalgam [between Islamists and the Muslim population], but we expect Muslim leaders to condemn – again – the Islamist attacks.
Merguy told journalists that “further steps are going to be taken” against Islamists.
France 2 noted that “there is a new profile [of Islamists], all of them are French, not yet registered [by security services] and already radicalized.”
During the course of operation in Strasbourg, Islamist literature and a list of Jewish associations in the Paris area were discovered by investigators.
Sidney had been the leader of the group and his DNA, found on the grenade thrown at Sarcelles, led police to him.
He was known to police since serving time for drug-trafficking in 2008. After that he converted to Islam, and visited North Africa.
After Hollande’s meeting with the Jewish community, he called the president of the Muslim community, Muhammad Moussaoui, to whom he expressed his desire for a meeting based on republican values.
“The perpetrators of criminal acts must not be confused with the Muslim population of our country,” said the president.
Another Jewish leader, Richard Pasquier, compared Islamism to Nazism, as the meeting at the Elysee Palace drew to a close.
“Islamism is a monstrous ideology, an ideology of hatred, that one can only compare to Nazi ideology. To be compassionate with radical Islam means to be compassionate with Nazism,” Pasquier told journalists.
During Succot police presence was reinforced around synagogues and other Jewish centers.