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Terror risks remains ‘extremely high’ in France — interior minister

Citing 8,132 people registered on database of suspected Islamist radicals, Gerald Darmanin says ‘risk of terror of Sunni origin is main threat’ to nation

French soldiers patrol in front of the Eiffel Tower on January 8, 2015.(AFP/Bertrand Guay)
French soldiers patrol in front of the Eiffel Tower on January 8, 2015.(AFP/Bertrand Guay)

LEVALLOIS-PERRET, France — The risk of terror attacks in France remains extremely high, the interior minister said on Monday, adding that over 8,000 people were on a national warning list of Islamist radicalization.

The comments by Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin came two days before 14 people are due to go on trial over alleged involvement in attacks in January 2015 including on the Charlie Hebdo weekly that heralded a wave of militant strikes in France.

The threat “remains extremely high in the country,” Darmanin said in a speech during a visit to France’s internal security service the DGSI.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin (R) delivers a speech on the state of terrorism threat at the French General Directorate for Internal Security (Direction generale de la securite interieure, DGSI) in Paris on August 31, 2020. (STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP)

“The risk of terror of Sunni origin is the main threat that our country is facing,” he added, promising a fight “without let-up.”

He said 8,132 individuals had been registered on France’s database of suspected Islamist radicals considered to be a potential security threat.

Fourteen alleged accomplices in the January 7-9, 2015 jihadist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly, a French policewoman and a Jewish supermarket go on trial in Paris on Wednesday.

All of the perpetrators were killed in the aftermath of the assaults but lawyers for the victims and prosecutors insist the trial will be a hugely important if potentially traumatic moment.

A French soldier stands guard as a municipal employee poses a commemorative plaque on the front of the Hyper Cacher Jewish supermarket in Paris on January 4, 2016, in memory of four people killed during a hostage taking in the shop on January 9, 2015. (AFP / THOMAS SAMSON)

Speaking on France Info radio Monday, national anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard dismissed the idea that it was just “little helpers” going on trial.

“It is about individuals who are involved in the logistics, the preparation of the events, who provided means of financing, operational material, weapons, a residence.

“All this is essential to the terrorist action,” he said.

The January 2015 attacks heralded a wave of Islamist violence that left 258 people dead and raised unsettling questions about modern France’s ability to preserve security and harmony for a multicultural society.

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