An ‘imminent’ terrorist plot to attack church services with machine guns while wearing fake police uniforms has been uncovered by French police… after the main suspect accidentally shot himself.
After shooting himself in the leg with one of the weapons he was going to use to massacre Christians in the French capital, 24-year-old student Sid Ahmed Ghlam called an ambulance, only to have police follow the trail of blood back to his car. Inside they found enough assault rifles, side arms, body armour and fake police uniforms to arm a small gang. Police are now working on the theory that Ghlam had a number of accomplices.
A 25-year-old woman was arrested in Paris in connection with the plot, with local reports suggesting she was Ghlam’s partner, a women who ‘stood out’ because she was the only person in the area who wore a Burqa. It is also reported Ghlam’s family are radical Muslims, which may have affected his own radicalisation and interest in fighting in Syria.
In an break for police investigators, Ghlam’s blood matched that found at a murder scene discovered on Sunday. It now seems the terrorist attempted to car-jack a 32-year-old dancer and fitness instructor named as Aurélie Châtelain, leaving her dead in the passenger seat.
Although Ghlam has been ‘on the radar’ of French authorities since he visited Turkey last year, previous investigations have turned up nothing, and so observation ceased.
Churches presently enjoy no state protection in France, unlike synagogues and some mosques which are under guard by the army and police. Le Figaro reports that while French churches, many of which exist in the most ‘multicultural’ neighbourhoods, don’t want to have police or soldiers stationed outside, they have received advice from the government about how to minimise risk.
One bishop reflected the advice unfortunately conflicted with the core mission of the church, remarking: “He asked bishops and priests to be vigilant, especially to close their churches as often as possible. Which is difficult since the church is meant to be an open place”.