When the national debate over Syrian refugees reached fever pitch last year, President Obama mocked Republicans for fearing “widows and orphans.” Within 48 hours, three female jihadis had blown themselves up for the glory of Allah. Well it looks like we almost had another three female radicals attain martyrdom, this time at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
AP reports: “Three women radicals with apparent plans for ‘imminent’ violence were detained Thursday after a standoff with French police, as part of a terrorism investigation into six gas canisters found in a car abandoned near Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the interior minister said.”
According to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who spoke with reporters Friday, the standoff occurred Thursday night in Boussy-Saint-Antoine, south of Paris, where authorities were able to arrest the women — though not without a struggle.
An intelligence officer was hospitalized after one of the jihadis stabbed him in the shoulder with a knife. One of the suspects was injured in the operation.
“These radicalized, fanatic women, aged 39, 23 and 19 years old, were likely preparing new violent actions, particularly imminent,” he said, warning, “France is confronted with a terrorist threat of unprecedented scale.”
At least seven people have now been detained in connection to the attack.
The thwarted Notre Dame plot will almost certainly not be the last one involving female radicals. Last week, one Paris prosecutor said that authorities were seeing an increasing number of young women being radicalized and suggested that more might be involved in terror plots in the future.
France has ramped up its anti-terrorism campaign after being hit by some of the most devastating terror attacks over the last two years, including the horrific coordinated attack in Paris in November 2015 that claimed the lives of over a hundred people and injured hundreds more, and the massacre in Nice in July resulting in over 80 people dead and 200 wounded.
UPDATE: On Friday, French authorities revealed that the radicalized women were being directed by ISIS and that their intended target was in fact the train station Gare de Lyon rather than Notre Dame, where the car containing the explosives was found.
“A terrorist cell …has been dismantled,” Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters Friday. “The transition to action by these young women, who were directed by individuals within the ranks of Islamic State in Syria, shows that this organization wants to create female fighters.”
Prosecutor Molins also revealed that the youngest of the three terrorists had already been suspected by police of planning to wage jihad for ISIS in Syria and that she had written a letter pledging her allegiance to the group. The 23 year-old jihadist had previously been engaged to two different men who committed acts of terror, Abballa and Adel Kermiche.
Top image (AP): a female suicide bomber.