France says foiled September 11-inspired attack

FILE PHOTO: French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner speaks during a joint news conference with Ivory Coast Security Minister Sidiki Diakite in Abidjan, Ivory Coast May 20, 2019. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s interior minister said on Thursday that intelligence services had arrested a man for planning an attack inspired by plane attacks on the World Trade Center in New York in Sept. 2001.

France has for several years grappled with how to respond to both homegrown jihadists and foreign militants following a series of attacks across the country. French officials say the threat of attacks remains very high.

On Oct. 3, an IT specialist with suspected Islamist sympathies, who had a security clearance, killed three officers and one civilian employee before he was shot dead by another police officer.

“Just before (that attack) there was a 60th attempted attack since 2013,” Christophe Castaner told France 2 television.

“An individual, who was inspired by the events of Sept. 11 and the planes which destroyed the World Trade Center towers, was arrested by our intelligence services.”

France has seen more than 230 people killed in the last four years on its territory from Islamist militant attacks, notably in Nov. 2015 after coordinated strikes across the capital.

The attacks were claimed by Islamic State in Syria, and were carried out in part by French-born fighters.

Officials now fear dozens of their nationals held in Kurdish-controlled camps in prisons could escape and return home following a Turkish offensive in northern Syria that is targeting Kurdish militias guarding them.

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama