Europe on high alert as Christmas terror plots foiled in France, Germany, Austria

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Several Muslim suspects have been arrested in France, Germany and Austria for allegedly planning Christmas terror attacks, according to reports, which say there’s a “very high level of terrorist threat” from Islamic terrorists in France. Spain is also on alert.

In France, five men, aged 20 to 23, were apprehended in Meurthe-et-Moselle, Le Parisien reported, saying French intelligence services had been surveilling the men for links to criminal terrorist associations and they were found scouting Strasbourg Christmas market.

A video filmed at the market featuring one suspect saying, “And there, we shoot,” was found during a raid. These men are believed to be part of the Salafist movement, a sect of Sunni Islam linked to various Islamic terrorist groups.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin emphasized the need for “extreme vigilance” during the Christmas season, citing a “very high level of terrorist threat” from Islamic terrorists. France has the largest Muslim population in Europe.

In Germany and Austria, law enforcement apprehended multiple suspects allegedly linked to the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, or ISIS-K.

Arrests in Vienna’s Ottakring district and Saarland, Germany, were part of efforts to thwart potential attacks on Christmas or New Year’s Eve, the German publication Bild said in a separate report, adding that Vienna police have raised the terror alert level, especially around this weekend, due to calls for attacks on Christian events by Islamic terrorists across Europe.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna and Cologne Cathedral in Germany were identified as high-risk targets, prompting increased security measures, including sweeps for explosives.

Cologne Police Chief Michael Esser stated that “special protective measures” were being implemented to safeguard cathedral visitors on Christmas Eve. These measures include searching the cathedral with sniffer dogs and screening visitors before entry.

European authorities have identified Madrid’s Christmas Masses also as targets, according to Germany’s Bild newspaper, i24News said, pointing to planned coordinated terror attacks on Christmas crowds in Europe.

Separately, seven individuals were arrested in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands for allegedly planning attacks against Jews.

German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann revealed that four members of Hamas, arrested in Germany and the Netherlands, were planning assaults on Jewish institutions in Europe. These suspects, identified as Abdelhamid Al A., Mohamed B., Ibrahim El-R., and Nazih R., are reportedly long-standing members of Hamas and have connections to its military branch.

Abdelhamid Al A. was tasked with locating a hidden weapons cache in Europe intended for potential attacks in Berlin, according to the report. “He received his orders from HAMAS leaders in Lebanon. The weapons were due to be taken to Berlin and kept in a state of readiness in view of potential terrorist attacks against Jewish institutions in Europe. In October, Abdelhamid Al A., Mohamed B. and Nazih R. traveled repeatedly from Berlin to look for the weapons, with Ibrahim El-R. providing assistance,” prosecutors were quoted as saying.

Additionally, three suspects were detained in Denmark on terrorism-related charges, although their connection to the other four is unclear.

© The Christian Post

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