French female jihadist suspects were planning Eiffel Tower attack – report
Three suspected female jihadists who were arrested in France last week had been planning to set off an explosion near the Eiffel Tower, Le Journal du Dimanche has reported citing an anonymous source close to the investigation.
The newspaper added that it was 29-year-old mother of three Ornella Gilligman, charged on Sunday, who told law enforcement about the Eiffel Tower plot.
The woman reportedly talked a lot, and varied her testimony a lot too, Le Journal du Dimanche cited its source as saying.
Her testimony will be compared with those of the other two women who were detained in connection with the case.
Gilligman is now in a high-security detention facility in Paris, facing trial for “attempted murder and involvement with a criminal gang preparing a terrorist act.”
She made attempts to go to Syria, and had been on the watch list before her arrest.
Gilligman’s two alleged accomplices are still being questioned, and prosecutors said that they were “determined to cause carnage in Paris.”
Earlier reports said that Gilligman was part of a plan to carry out a terrorist attack near the Notre Dame cathedral.
A Peugeot 607 was discovered next to Notre Dame with at least seven gas cylinders inside. No detonators were found, investigation sources told Le Figaro.
French authorities are currently observing some 15,000 people who could be radicals planning terror acts, France’s premier Manuel Valls said in an interview on Sunday.
“We have nearly 700 French jihadists and French residents, who are currently fighting in Iraq and Syria,” he added, noting that this figure included “275 women and dozens of children.”
He mentioned “the maximum threat” in the country, with at least two attacks having been prevented over the past couple of days.
Political views have been divided over the terrorist threat in the country, with former French president Nicolas Sarkozy suggesting that the authorities should establish preventive detention facilities for Frenchmen suspected of being linked to terrorism.
However, French Prime Minister Valls opposed his opinion, saying Sarkozy is “wrong about trying to wring the neck of the rule of law.”
France has been on high alert for about 18 months, since it was hit by a string of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL)-linked terrorist attacks, with the biggest death toll being in November 2015, when at least 130 people were killed in Paris.
This year was marked by a tragedy in Nice on July 14 which left at least 84 people dead, when a truck driven by an IS supporter plowed through crowds during Bastille Day celebrations. The country was further shocked by the killing of Father Jacques Hamel in northern Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in July. The 85-year-old priest had his throat cut by two alleged IS terrorists.