The government of France began its prosecution of 15 suspected terrorists on Monday for planning to carry out jihad (Islamic holy war) attacks against Jews in Paris. France ratcheted up its response to radical Islamic threats and rising anti-Semitism after an exceptionally bloody week of terror this January.
The radical Islamic group to which the accused operatives belong is called Forsane Alizza, or “Knights of Pride.” It was dismantled shortly after the 2012 week-long murder spree in Toulouse by Al Qaeda-linked terrorist Mohamed Merah, who attacked a Jewish day school. Merah murdered a rabbi and three children, as well as several soldiers.
The leader of the group, Mohamed Achamlane, one of those whose trial began this week, was arrested in the western city of Nantes. He and the others are charged with intent to carry out terrorist acts. However, two of the 15 were not present in the courtroom; one was a minor to be tried in juvenile court.
The group’s Internet site “called for an Islamic caliphate in France, the application of Shari’a (ed: Islamic law) and incited Muslims to unite to prepare for civil war,” said Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins at the time of their arrest. Forsane Alizza members received religious indoctrination and physical training in parks and forests around Paris, Molins charged, “in order to take part in a jihad.”
Multiple kosher groceries and the offices of French satiric magazine Charlie Hebdo were listed in a Forsane Alizza computer file named “targets.” Several were, in fact, attacked this past January in a united Al Qaeda-ISIS operation that left 20 people dead, including the three terrorists in the cell.
However, in a letter from his jail cell Achamlane denied having anything to do with the attacks, according to court documents.