Yesterday there were reports, confirming rumours that have appeared during the past week, that their national intelligence services uncovered a week ago and thwarted a plot to have an Islamist suicide bomber - a female, as it happens, explode in a "busy part of Paris". The goal, it needs to be said, was not to take control of the Eiffel tower but simply to sow the horror and devastation that are the essential ingredients of terror.
Why are such things being done to the French? According to this report, France's burqa ban has "seriously increased" the threat of a major terrorist attack. So says the French domestic intelligence chief Bernard Squarcini. "All the red lights were flashing", he warned, over the risk that jihadists would bomb French cities. "France's role in Afghanistan, its foreign policy and the debate over the law banning the burqa have all increased the risk."
That was last week. Then yesterday, more evidence of the terror tentacles reach into France, this time for what are perceived as different reasons. France is now said to be on "red alert" for a terror attack, according to a headlined report originally carried by the Times of London.
FRANCE has been warned to prepare for imminent terrorist attack. This came as Paris sent special forces to West Africa to hunt al-Qa'ida fighters who are holding seven hostages in the wastelands of the Sahel. President Nicolas Sarkozy was returning early from a visit to the UN yesterday to take charge of what he and the terrorists call a war between France and al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb, an Algerian-led offshoot of the international jihad movement. The conflict intensified last week when gunmen, assumed to be from AQIM, snatched the seven, five of them French, from a French uranium mining colony in northern Niger where they worked... The domestic security services alerted Mr Sarkozy's government to a severe threat against the public transport system last Thursday after signs that two dormant Islamist cells in Paris had been revived to receive groups of jihadi radicals returning from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Algeria also alerted Paris to signs of preparations for a bomb attack in France. Police sources told RTL radio yesterday that a suicide attack by a woman was expected [that's the report we mentioned above], but this was not officially confirmed. Bernard Squarcini, the head of the internal intelligence service, said France faced its biggest threat since the mid-1990s when Algerian-based radicals waged a murderous bombing campaign in Paris... Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said the threat was real. "We have stepped up our vigilance," he said. More soldiers were sent to guard public places yesterday under France's permanent "Vigipirate" security operation, which is now at its second-highest state of alert. Round-the-clock guards have been assigned to Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the Paris Mosque and figurehead of France's Muslim community. "We do not know when or where an attack will come, but we know that it will take place," an intelligence official said. [More]Related or not, there's growing Gallic anxiety about the influence of aggressive Islamic activism on its streets. A video based on some grass-roots investigative journalism makes for troublesome viewing.