An act of deliberate sabotage that knocked out the internet for 50,000 people this week in the Ile-de-France region may be connected to a series of vandalism acts believed to be linked to far-left Antifa extremists.
According to investigations conducted by the Departmental Judicial Police Service (SDPJ) of Val-de-Marne, the incident which led to customers becoming disconnected from the internet in the region was deliberate.
A police source close to the investigation told Le Parisien that the damage could cost as much as an estimated one million euros. While an unnamed internet company head told the newspaper the scale of the sabotage was “unheard of in 20 years”.
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The sabotage involved the cutting of telephone and communications cables and is just the latest act of sabotage across France in the last month.
A leaked note from the Central Territorial Intelligence Service (SCRT) claimed that there had been as many as 20 acts of sabotage in recent weeks, all of them targetting communications infrastructure.
“These individuals have forced open the street signs that protect underground fibre optic networks. They then cut the big cables and took the time to cut everything into smaller pieces to delay repairs that could take weeks,” a source told Le Parisien.
Orange, the internet and mobile network most affected by the sabotage, confirmed four separate areas where acts of sabotage occurred. While an industry expert told the newspaper at least 20 sites were sabotaged, stating that many of the locations are confidential.
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Just days before, Le Parisien reported that the central territorial intelligence service (SCRT) suspected far-left extremists were behind the wave of sabotage, saying all targets were “historic targets of the ultra-left movement”.
French intelligence services also noted several calls for sabotage that have been posted on far-left Antifa websites and social media pages including a March 30th manifesto calling on extremists to “resume direct action”.
“We must act in concrete resistance, not symbolic […] To carry out sabotage, there is no need to be in large numbers or have experience. Direct action is within everyone’s reach,” the manifesto’s author wrote.
A senior civil servant stated that in the case of the mass internet cable sabotage this week, no procedural links to the far-left have yet been made, but the planned nature of the attack means they have also not been excluded as potential suspects.
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Calls for the sabotage of infrastructure by far-left Antifa extremists have been seen in multiple countries over the last few years.
Last year in July, Italian far-left extremists were suspected to be behind an act of sabotage on Italian railways near Florence that caused hours of delays of high-speed trains. Prosecutors at the time labelled the destruction an “act of war”.
In Canada, far-left extremists made similar calls to sabotage railway systems, with Canadian transport minister Marc Garneau admitting that sabotage of the railway infrastructure had occurred during anti-pipeline rail blockades earlier this year.
“There have also been instances of tampering on the railways… One that concerns me is disabling the signalling that occurs at a road crossing… We accept peaceful protests and demonstrations in this country that are peaceful and lawful, but it is concerning if people aren’t respecting the fact that they injure themselves and other people,” Mr Garneau said.
In Germany, a hotspot for far-left extremist activity, terror handbooks such as the “PRISMA” document have been in circulation for years and not only call for sabotage but instruct extremists on how cut telephone and power lines and how to make remote incendiary bombs.
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 22, 2018