Four men on trial accused of plotting terror attacks at French Jewish sites

The men are alleged to have planned attacks on mosques and Jewish communal organisations


PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 13: A Parisian grieves outside the Bataclan concert hall on the sixth anniversary of the 13th November 2015 Paris terror attacks on November 13, 2021 in Paris, France. In November 2015, three teams of jihadists launched an attack consisting of suicide bombings and gun assaults on bars, restaurants and the Bataclan concert hall, killing 130 people, for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility. The trial over these attacks is currently ongoing. (Photo by Kiran Ridley/Getty Images)

Four men have gone on trial accused of conspiring as a neo-Nazi terrorist group to plan attacks on Jewish and other religious sites in France.

Prosecutors told a Paris court on Monday the four men, now aged between 22 and 28, joined a private internet chat group called "Operation WaffenKraft" and talks "very quickly turned to the preparation of terrorist projects".

One of the accused was a teenager when police arrested the suspects in 2018 and 2019. 

The Waffen-SS was the military branch of the Nazi's elite SS corps, which was founded by Adolf Hitler.

The chat group allegedly discussed targets, which included the headquarters of the Jewish council (CRIF) and the office of the anti-Jewish discrimination league (LICRA).

The group’s online discussions are alleged to have also included hatred of Muslims and communists as well as comments that were antisemitic and homophobic. 

The four men include a farm worker, as well as an engineering student who was the son of an army colonel.

The court heard how the group's alleged leader was Alexandre Gilet, a volunteer deputy police officer in the southeastern department of Isere.

Gilet was arrested after police learned he had ordered equipment that could be used for making explosives, according to AFP. 

At his home, investigators found "regularly used" weapons. These included two Kalashnikov assault rifles and lab equipment.

French media also reported that investigators found pictures of the four men when they had met face-to-face for the first time in the summer of 2018 for shooting practice in a forest near Tours. 

In addition, they found draft documents that they interpreted to be manifestos along the lines of those used to justify ultra-right mass killings.

A closed-door trial for all four men was likely but presiding judge Christophe Petiteau said that given the seriousness of the allegations, “the court considers it important to lift the restricted publicity”.

One of the suspects would later say of Gilet: “I think he wanted to do something worse than the Bataclan.”

He was referring to the November 2015 jihadist attacks in Paris in which 130 people were killed, dozens of them at the Bataclan concert venue.

Lawyers for the four men are due to argue in court they would not have carried out any real attacks, nor had they written manifestos.

The trial continues until June 30.

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