A senior al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) operative who played a pivotal role in recruiting a homegrown French terrorist has a long record of threatening the West with spectacular attacks, a Middle East Media Research Institute report shows.
The operative, known only as Redouane18, directed a 29-year-old halal butcher in plotting attacks in France that could have targeted the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre or nuclear power plants. The suspect, identified as Ali M., was en route to meet AQIM handlers in Algeria to undergo training when he was arrested in June 2013.
Last week, France's Le Parisian reported on encrypted communications between the two that have been decoded by French investigators.
In the preceding weeks, Ali posted on an Islamist website called al-Islam Shoumouk under the name Abu Naji, Le Perisien reported. It was there that Redouane18 asked for a list of potential targets. Ali said he would emphasize bars, markets and other places frequented by working class French. He also cited the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, along with "cultural events taking place in cities in the south of France during which thousands of Christians gather for a month." There, roads and sidewalks are so packed "a single grenade can hurt dozens of people."
Redouane18 advises Ali to "make trails objectives and to collect information" and says Ali will have "to meet with us to plan the whole project."
"I am fully ready and prepared," Ali later wrote. So far, he is charged with "criminal association."
Redouane18, meanwhile, has been discussed in at least two previous MEMRI reports. In 2011, he published an essay on a jihadist forum addressed to "the Jewish Sarkozy." The fall of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya "marks the beginning of the real battle between Islam and the World Crusade. Sarkozy the fool opened a new gate of Hell for France and the West, worn [from his wars] in Iraq and Afghanistan ... O hero of Libya! Keep your arms. Hold on to your equipment and prepare them for war. The battle is still in its infancy. You need to store explosives for making car bombs and blow up tanks and armored vehicles."
In a separate post in February 2012, he called on jihadis to target Western embassies in Muslim countries, saying the Westerners control those countries and kill mujahideen.
Last week, France proposed new restrictions aimed at stopping people from traveling abroad to join jihads in Syria and Iraq.