After threats against churches were posted on the Web, the French police’s anti-terrorism department has launched a probe.
PARIS - After the attack in Alexandria that killed 21 people on New Year's Eve, radical Islamist threats against Coptic Christians are spreading to France. "January 7, the day Copts celebrate Christmas, will require special attention," admits a high-ranking official at the Interior ministry. "The threat is serious," says Paris Police chief Michel Gaudin, who called an emergency meeting to set up tighter security around Coptic churches in the Paris region.
The Paris Police's anti-terrorism department is currently investigating a possible "criminal association in relation to a terrorist enterprise," after a Coptic church in the Parisian suburb of Chatenay-Malabry pressed charges.
Father Girguis Lucas of the Saint-Marie-Saint-Marc's church says one of his churchgoers alerted him about "threats posted on the Web by Islamic mujahideen
announcing more attacks in Europe, especially in France." Father Girguis said the Internet posts mentioned his own church.
French intelligence sends out an alert
Le Figaro has obtained proof that the DRPP French intelligence services sent out an alert about the issue. An intelligence agent confirmed: "Five or six suspected websites were detected in the Paris region." The Chatenay-Malabry church as well as another in Colombes were mentioned.
Patrick Strzoda, the government prefect in Hauts-de-Seine, the department where both these churches are located, immediately requested more patrols and tighter security around these locations. The Interior Ministry wants to extend these security measures to other Coptic churches in and around Paris, and in other French cities like Marseille, Dijon or Nimes.
But France isn't the only country to have been targeted. A message broadcast in December by the Choukmoun al-Islam website, an Al Qaeda mouthpiece, listed about 50 potential targets in France but also in Germany and in Britain. This call for jihad read: "Rise and leave sleep behind. This is an important message about bomb attacks against churches during Christmas celebrations." The author calls "all Muslims who care about the reputation of their sisters to bomb" these churches when "they are full."
Read the original article in French