French synagogue terrorized by blank shots soon after police raid jihadi cell

French synagogue terrorized by blank shots soon after police raid jihadi cell

Eight bullets fired, services cancelled; community head calls attack 'worrying'

The Paris suburb of Argenteuil. (photo credit: CC BY-SA  MPD01605, Flickr)
The Paris suburb of Argenteuil. (photo credit: CC BY-SA MPD01605, Flickr)

Blank cartridges were fired at a synagogue in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil Saturday night, hours after police carried out an anti-terror sweep in response to the firebombing of a kosher store near the French capital last month.

A Jewish community leader told the Le Parisien newspaper that the shots were fired at the synagogue to scare the local community. “This was an act that was more against the Jewish community, it’s very worrying,” Val d’Oise Jewish community head Moshe Cohen Sabban told the paper.

The shooters fled the scene.

A representative of the synagogue said the building was targeted with about eight blank bullets and services were cancelled. The representative said no one was hurt in the incident.

A leading French Muslim organization, the CFCM, denounced the synagogue attack. It said in a statement Sunday that it “assures the French Jewish community of its support and fraternal solidarity in the face of all attacks that target its members and institutions.”

The French Jewish community say they have been the target of increasing anti-Semitic attacks over the last several months. Earlier this year a gunman targeted a Jewish school in the southern city of Toulouse, killing a rabbi, his two children and another girl.

On Sept. 19, a kosher grocery in the heavily-Jewish Paris suburb of Sarcelles was firebombed, injuring one person. The attack came the same day a French satirical paper published crude caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Anti-Western protests were also growing at the time against an anti-Islam film.

“What happened in Sarcelles was just a start, or was just a test,” Sammy Ghozlan, head of a French group that tracks anti-Semitism in the country, said. “Islamism is a force of influence and Islamists are going to seek out the weakest people to teach them to kill.”

On Saturday, French police carried out raids around the country to dismantle the group responsible for the firebombing, arresting 11 members of a Jihadi cell of young Frenchmen recently converted to islam.

One man was killed when he opened fire on police in the eastern city of Strasbourg, injuring three. Officials said they had been tracking the man, identified as Jeremy Sydney, since the Toulouse shootings in March.

One arrested man was carrying a loaded gun, and police found weapons, cash and a list of Paris-area Israeli associations during the raids.

“You can imagine what their other plans could have been,” counterterrorism official Eric Voulleminot said at a news conference.

A statement from President Francois Hollande praised the police for the raids and said the state would continue to “protect the French against all terrorist threats.”

Hollande was to meet with Jewish community leaders on Sunday.

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