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18 Oct, 2019 00:20

France foiled ‘9/11-inspired’ plane hijacking attack, national security chief reveals

France foiled ‘9/11-inspired’ plane hijacking attack, national security chief reveals

A terrorist plot inspired by the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US was foiled recently by French police, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has revealed, defending his record after fatal stabbings at the Paris police HQ.

During his appearance on the France 2 TV show called ‘Vous avez la parole’ (You have the word) on Thursday, Castaner brought up for the first time last month’s arrest of “an individual who wanted to take inspiration from September 11.” 

The wannabe attacker had a “project” to hijack a plane and was “getting organized” to do so, the minister said, offering no further details.

French media filled in some of the blanks later in the day, citing police sources. The suspect lived in the Hauts-de-Seine department, just west of central Paris, and is a French national under 30 years of age, according to these reports.

He was also reportedly considering carrying out the attack in another EU country, because France was under “too much surveillance,” according to these same sources. Police and the French counter-intelligence service DGSI reportedly did have him under surveillance for three to four months, as the suspect sought accomplices via social media. 

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Castaner made the revelation while discussing the October 3 stabbing at the police headquarters in Paris, noting that it was one of the 60 terrorist plots foiled by the French authorities since 2013.

The incident, in which an IT employee fatally stabbed four police officers and injured two others before he was shot and killed, was initially thought to be a work-related rampage. When it later emerged that the employee had converted to Islam months prior, the investigators began considering terrorism as a possible motive.

France has been in a state of emergency since November 2015, when attackers pledging allegiance to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) killed 130 people in Paris, most of them at a concert in the Bataclan theatre. Another major attack took place in Nice on Bastille Day 2016, when a terrorist hijacked a truck and drove it into a crowd, killing 86 and injuring almost 500 more.

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