ISIS terror cell planned attack on Euro 2016
- The plot was allegedly planned by the same group who coordinated deadly attacks on Paris and Brussels.
The ISIS terror cell that launched deadly attacks on both Paris and Brussels was allegedly planning an attack on the Euro 2016 Championships in France this June. 130 people were killed by the group during a co-ordinated attack on Paris last November, while a further 32 were killed by suicide bombers in Brussels last month.
And it has since been revealed that the terrorist group never actually intended to attack the Belgian capital, but quickly co-ordinated the attack after the group believed it was being closed in on by police.
According to Liberation newspaper, Mohamed Abrini, a 31-year-old terrorist involved in the attack, told police after being arrested on Friday that the group was lining up a second attack in Paris during the Euro 2016 football tournament. But the group had to quickly change plans after the last surviving terrorist from the November attacks was arrested.
After learning that the terrorist was working with police, the group decided to instead launch a co-ordinated attack on the Brussels metro system and airport.
“According to our information, Mohamed Abrini has explained the initial intention of this nebulous terrorist Franco-Belgian terrorist group was to go into action during the Euro football tournament,” Liberation reported on Monday.
French police have since claimed that the planned attack on the tournament came as no surprise.
“It’s not a scoop to learn that the terrorists want to strike during the Euros,” a police spokesperson said.
“Security forces constantly develop attack scenarios and the way to respond. If the Abrini statements are correct, it just confirms the fact that Belgium is an operational base that needs to be watched even more intensely.
“Jihadi networks and cells have been meeting there for at least ten years”.
The threat of a terrorist attack on a major football tournament has long been feared by the public and those fears were escalated when the initial explosions of November’s Paris terror attacks were heard during an international friendly between Germany and France at the Stade de France.
The attack saw fans gather on the pitch after the match while they waited for information on whether it was safe to leave, and it was later reported that the stadium, which will host the Euro 2016 final, was also a target of the attacks.
More than 2.5 million football fans are expected to travel to France for Euro 2016, which is being hosted across 10 cities. Security has since been heightened across the country and is expected to become even more stringent as the tournament nears.
French Emergency Services already began preparing for a potential attack last month when they staged a mock chemical attack at St Etienne's stadium which involved 2000 emergency service members.
France will open the Euro 2016 football tournament on June 10 when they take on Romania in St-Denis.Published 12 Apr 2016, 17:02 IST