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French PM: Today the Threat is at a Maximum | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A police bomb disposal van at the Gare de Lyon in Paris after the discovery of a suspicious package. Photograph: François Mori/AP

Paris – French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said: “Today the threat is at a maximum, and we are a target.”

Valls spoke after the French authorities foiled a terrorist plot by three women who had been radicalized.

During an interview with Europe 1 radio, Valls said nearly 15,000 people in France are being tracked because they are suspected of being in the process of radicalization, while 1,350 are under investigation — 293 of them for alleged links with a terrorism network.

Last Thursday, French authorities arrested three women in connection with a car laden with gas canisters that was abandoned near Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral.

Sources revealed that police arrested a 15-year-old boy suspected of planning a separate attack, two days after they took the women into custody.

The teenager was detained in eastern Paris on Saturday after having been under house arrest since April for suspected links to ISIS.

The source also revealed that the teenager communicated with French extremist Rashid Kassem using the Telegram application. Another source revealed that their messages included words on attacks on several locations in Paris such as the police department and public facilities.

Kassem promotes for ISIS and regularly publishes online lists of possible targets and attack scenarios.

Investigators revealed that Kassem communicated through Telegram with one of the women who, according to the authorities, was preparing for another attack.

At least one of the women has been linked to one of the attackers who killed a French priest in Normandy in July.

French authorities indicted Ornella G. with an attempt to blow up the car in Paris after her fingerprints were discovered on the abandoned vehicle.

Ornella G, who is a mother of three children, had been previously known to authorities for wanting to go to Syria to join extremists. She was arrested on Tuesday in southern France as she attempted to flee with her children and former partner.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the three women were radicalized and likely had been planning an “imminent and violent” attack.

Last week, French police received a phone call from a worker at one of the bars saying that a Peugeot 607 with no license plate was parked near the cathedral with its lights on and a gas canister inside it.

Upon checking the car, the police found the gas canister, a partially smoked cigarette, and lid covered with gasoline.

Investigators found the fingerprints of Ornella G. and Ines M., 19, who had apparently tried to set fire to the vehicle but fled when they saw a man they believed to be a plain-clothes policeman. Another source said that the women left the scene after they had a fight.

Authorities arrested two additional women, ages 23 and 39, near Paris Thursday in relation to the Notre Dame plot.

Based on the intel, the women had already planned for another attack. Among the list of targets were Parisian suburbs and a train station.

Since January 2015, France has come under a series of attacks that have left hundreds of casualties; ISIS has claimed responsibility for most of the assaults. This made security a hot topic in campaigning for the upcoming presidential elections.

France is a target for ISIS with hundreds of French people joining or trying to join the extremist organization. Paris is under attack for its participation in the international coalition against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.