French security services have prevented a planned stabbing spree in public places during the Christmas season. Two suspected Islamic State sympathizers, who hoped to knife holiday shoppers and die as martyrs, have been arrested.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin confirmed the arrest of two individuals on Wednesday by the General Directorate of Internal Security (DGSI), with a link to a report by the daily Le Parisien.
“The terrorist threat remains at a high level in France, we are not lowering our guard,” Darmanin said.
According to media reports citing sources within the French judiciary, the DGSI arrested two men, both 23, on November 29 in the Île-de-France department. One was detained in Meaux, and the second in Pecq, on the other side of Paris. They were charged and jailed on December 3, as part of an investigation opened by anti-terrorism prosecutors. Neither has been identified by name.
One of the suspects reportedly confessed to police that they planned to carry out knife attacks in public places by Christmas and die as martyrs. Their potential targets included shopping centers, universities and busy public streets. Jihadist literature and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) literature were found during a search of their homes, BFMTV reported.
The other suspect admitted to a “fascination” with IS but denied planning the attacks, according to AFP. He was previously sentenced by a Paris juvenile court in April 2019 to four years in prison, of which 30 months were suspended with probation, according to a police source.
The two men first made contact on social media, and later met in person, the French police said.