Published: September 9, 2016
A cell of radicalised French women guided by Islamic State commanders in Syria was behind a failed terrorist attack near Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral last weekend and planned another violent attack this week before they were intercepted by police, the Paris prosecutor has said.
The women, aged 19, 23 and 39, were arrested in Boussy-Saint-Antoine, a small town 19 miles (30km) south-east of Paris, on Thursday night after they were linked to the discovery of a car packed with gas cylinders parked near the cathedral last weekend. Officials said the women had been planning an imminent violent attack on the busy Gare de Lyon station in Paris and were stopped after a police and intelligence operation described as a “race against time”.
The Paris prosecutor, François Molins, said one of the women arrested, who he referred to as Sarah H, aged 23, had been engaged at different times to two French extremists who themselves had carried out deadly attacks this year.
She had been engaged to Larossi Abballa, who in June murdered a police commander and his police officer partner at their home in Magnanville outside Paris in the presence of their three-year-old son. He filmed the aftermath on Facebook Live before dying in a police raid. She was also betrothed to Adel Kermiche, who slit the throat of an elderly French priest during morning mass in Normandy in July. Her current fiancé was arrested on Thursday, Molins said.
The prosecutor said the cell of women terrorists showed that Islamic State “intends to make women into fighters”. He said that if women had previously been “confined to family and domestic tasks” by the militant group, that vision was now strongly out of date. “Their aim was to commit an attack,” he said of the women.