Muslim teens accused of suicide synagogue plot

By Michael Gurfinkiel, September 4, 2014
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Two Muslim girls, aged 17 and 15, have been arrested and charged by French police for allegedly planning a suicide attack on the Great Synagogue in Lyon, central France.

One of the teenagers is from Venissieux, a surburb of Lyon; the other from Tarbes, in the eastern Pyrenees. The pair never met but exchanged emails. It seems that a third party - possibly a jihadist recruiting network - was also involved.

France's five to six million-strong Muslim community is seen as a prime reservoir for jihadi terror activities. Most young French Muslims were born in the country, are French citizens, speak fluent French, are familiar with the European cultural codes and carry EU passports. As such they can travel and operate much more freely than citizens from Muslim countries, or pass as non-Muslims if needed.

So far, the police have neither confirmed nor denied the arrests.

There have been many instances of teenage age girls being recruited for terror activities. According to the French Interior Ministry, a 14-year-old girl was arrested on August 27 in Quimper, Britanny, for similar reasons.

And a 22-year-old man from Chechnya, possibly a jihadi activist, was arrested last Saturday at Nice airport after he bought an air ticket to Turkey for a 16-year-old girl who allegedly had plans to travel to Syria.

Richard Wertenschlag, the Chief Rabbi of Lyon, pointed to the many anti-Israel rallies that have been staged in the Lyon area over the past two months: "There are demonstrations every Wednesday afternoon and every Saturday afternoon. Incitement to anti-Jewish violence and even murder, with slogans like 'death to Zionists', is a frequent occurence."

He added: "The fact that Nathalie Perrin-Gilbert, the left-wing mayor of the city's first district, half-masted the French flag to mourn 'Gaza's murdered children' was not helpful."

    Last updated: 2:50pm, September 4 2014