French security agency, DGSI arrested five “radicalized” women, late Saturday in the Occitanie region of southern France. A church in Montpellier was supposed to be the jihadis target during this Easter weekend.
An 18-year-old girl was arrested and preparations for explosive devices were found at her home. The girl is suspected of planning to attack a church in Montpellier. Also taken into custody were her mother and three sisters, including a 15-year-old minor, who was present at the home at the time of the arrest.
The arrests came after the discovery of a disturbing message on social networks, Friday, which precipitated the operation. The young woman is suspected of having wanted to attack a place of worship in Montpellier or the surrounding area, but no specific church has been mentioned.
The National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office (Pnat) has opened a preliminary investigation for “terrorist criminal association”. None of the five suspects are previously known to the police.
During the police search of the suspects home, investigators discovered all the chemicals that could go into making explosives as well as the instructions for use. But, more worrying still, they found the preparations of homemade explosive devices: several bottles taped together and marbles. “We can speak of atypical and significant discoveries”, explains a source close to the case. “We think we have foiled a plan to attack,” said another.
In the apartment, investigators also got their hands on documentation related to ISIS. A saber was also seized in the search.
Although jihadist-inspired terrorist actions are overwhelmingly perpetrated by men, women have already been convicted in France for similar acts.
Five French women became the face of the “face of female jihad“, after trying to blow up a car near Notre-Dame de Paris in 2016. Inès Madani, Ornella Gilligmann, Sarah Hervouët, Amel Sakaou and Samia Chalel, all converts to Islam, were sentenced between five and 30 years to jail. The appeal trial of Inès Madani and Mohamed Lamine Aberouz is to be held in May this year, in Paris.