The Associated Press reports: A single French Islamic State jihadi has emerged as the link among at least four plots to attack France since June, three people with knowledge of the investigation said.
The precise role of the extremist, Rachid Kassim, is under investigation, but the officials say he has become a key instigator who directs recruits in encrypted forums on how and where to carry out the Islamic State’s call for European Muslims to strike at home. Most recently, he was believed to be in contact with a 19-year-old in an unprecedented cell of French women who failed in their attempts to detonate a car bomb and kill police.
From the Loire River town of Roanne, the 29-year-old Kassim is believed to be in either Syria or Iraq yet figures in multiple French anti-terror investigations.
Kassim’s virtual fingerprints were found as early as the June 14 knifing of two police officials at their home in the Paris suburb of Magnanville, in which the killer left behind not only a video that he had streamed on Facebook Live but a hit list of politicians, journalists and public personalities. That list is believed to have been drawn up by Kassim ahead of time, one of the officials said. All spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation. [Continue reading…]
BBC News reports: By early August came the first indication that Rashid Kassim was targeting women and children to carry out attacks.
His name has been linked a girl of 16 arrested at Melun, south of Paris, and to another teenager in Clermont-Ferrand. The 16 year old had gone on Telegram to announce her plan to launch an attack.
And on 11 September, a boy of 15 was arrested in Paris on suspicion of planning an attack in a public place. Investigators said he too was in contact with Kassim and been under surveillance since April.
Another plot in Paris this month involved several women and was, in the words of Paris prosecutor Francois Molins, “remote-controlled” from Syria. Unconfirmed reports said Rashid Kassim was the inspiration.
In the early hours of 4 September, a car packed with gas canisters and jerry-cans of diesel was abandoned by female jihadists in a street near Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. [Continue reading…]