'Forgotten' terror threat: how Al Qaeda is targeting France


The massacres in Paris on November 13th last year and the attacks in Brussels on March 22nd have focused attention on Islamic State. Yet the threat from Al Qaeda terrorism has not gone away. Indeed, French intelligence agencies fear that the older terrorist movement may be planning to up the stakes with an attack on France in a bid to restore its flagging reputation in relation to its jihadist rival. Matthieu Suc reports.

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At the beginning of January the so-called Emir of the Sahara from the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) group gave an interview for the Mauritanian news website El-Akhbar. In the course of it Yahya Abu Hammam - real name Jemal Oukacha – praised the recent November 13th attacks in Paris. “The Mujahideen entered the capital of lights as some like to call it,” he said. Yahya Abu Hammam then promised new attacks as part of the “war against France”. The declaration passed almost unnoticed, with only Le Monde dedicating a short article to the threat. This Algerian with a thick beard and a limp in his right leg is indeed unknown to the general public and the name of his organisation no longer strikes fear since the last French hostages in Africa were freed, since the Arab Spring movement cold shouldered the followers of Osama Bin Laden and since the bloody attack on the French capital carried out by fighters from Islamic State. In many people's minds the Al Qaeda movement belongs to the 'old days' of Islamic terrorism.