France – French police investigating a suspected bomb factory near Paris believe three arrested men were preparing attacks and had made calls to Syria, a minister said on the 7 Sep 17. Ingredients to make an explosive known as TATP, commonly used by the Islamic State group (IS), were discovered in an unoccupied apartment in the Parisian suburb of Villejuif on the 6 Sep17 as well as gas canisters and electrical wiring. More potential TATP ingredients were found during a search of an enclosed parking space belonging to the main suspect, the flat's owner, a source close to the case said. Anti-terror police launched raids following a tip-off from a worker at the building who has been praised for his "citizen's reflex" for reporting suspicious activity. The Paris daily Le Parisien reported that the workman was a plumber working to fix a recurrent leak. He was outside the building when he spotted chemicals on a balcony of the flat, then saw a soldering iron and a hot plate through the window, the paper reported, quoting a source close to the probe. Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the men in custody, two were arrested on the 6 Sep 17 and a third overnight, "were involved in terrorism". "We've seen that there were calls exchanged" with someone in the war zone in Syria, Collomb saiod on Franceinfo radio. The men have denied they were preparing attacks, claiming they were planning a string of robberies in which the explosives would be used to blow up bank cash machines, Collomb said. The arrests raised questions about whether the suspects might be linked to a jihadist cell in Spain which carried out two vehicle attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils last month. Some of the extremists behind the violence in Spain -- mostly Moroccan nationals who were also preparing bombs made with TATP, visited Paris on August 11 and 12, about a week before their deadly rampage. "It is possible there were links but honestly I don't know," Collomb said. The Spain attackers stayed in a hotel in the Parisian suburb of Malakoff a short drive from where the suspected bomb factory was discovered on the 6 Sep 17 in Villejuif. After buying a camera and leaving their hotel, Collomb said the Spain jihadists "spent a long time in front of the Eiffel Tower... We have it all from their phone data".
France – France opened a counter-terrorism inquiry after a man wielding a knife attacked a soldier in a Paris subway station on the 15 Sep 17 the latest incident targeting troops protecting the capital’s transport hubs and tourist sites. The Paris incident occurred hours before several people were hurt at a London underground station. Witnesses reported a blast which police were treating as a terrorism incident. The assailant in Paris was wrestled to the ground and arrested. The soldier, part of Operation Sentinel, a force deployed in the wake of lethal Islamist attacks on France, escaped unhurt. Police said the attack happened just before 0630 hrs local (0430 hrs GMT) as the morning rush hour got under way at the Chatelet subway station, where tens of thousands of commuters converge from Paris’s sprawling suburbs every day. Government spokesman Christophe Castaner said the investigation was being handled by counter-terrorism specialists. A source close to the investigation said the assailant was Moroccan-born and about 40-years-old, with no known criminal background. Police raids at an address linked to the suspect were ongoing, the source added. There have been more than half a dozen attacks against troops belonging to Operation Sentinel. France announced on Thursday that the 7,000-strong force was being adapted to make it more mobile and its movements less predictable. Days earlier, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said security agencies had thwarted several bigger plots this year, including one plan to strike a Paris night club in late Aug 17. Islamist militants have killed more than 230 people in a wave of attacks on French soil since early 2015 and dozens more have been killed in attacks in London, Manchester and Brussels. French media said the Chatelet aggressor shouted references to Islamic State as he attacked the soldier.
Germany – German officials found lists with over 5,000 names of possible targets, including over 100 politicians, during the raids on the homes and workplaces of two terrorism suspects in the east German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern last week, Die Welt newspaper reported on the 8 Sep 17. The newspaper, citing security sources, said one of the suspects, a former policeman who has since been suspended, is believed to have used his office computer to search out the addresses of political opponents. German police on the 28 Aug 17 raided the homes and workplaces of the policeman and another person suspected of planning to capture and kill politicians because of their views on immigration, authorities said. The newspaper report marked the first substantial details that have emerged about the case. At the time, the federal prosecutor’s office said the suspects, who feared Germany’s refugee policies would impoverish the country, had begun to stockpile food and ammunition and plan attacks. The newspaper said there were no indications thus far of surveillance of the people on the lists, or of any concrete murder plans. Much of the information was publicly available; the paper cited the sources as saying. Federal police officials seized two binders filled with names of over 5,000 people during searches of the properties of one of the suspects, an attorney and a local politician in Rostock, a northern city. It said the politicians on the list belonged to a wide range of parties, including Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.
Spain/Morocco – Spanish and Moroccan authorities have arrested six jihadists who were preparing "large-scale attacks", Spain's interior ministry said on the 6 Sep 17. Spanish police and security authorities in Morocco "have dismantled a jihadist terrorist cell composed of six people", a ministry statement said, indicating that five of them were arrested in Morocco and one in Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa. The arrests came weeks after attacks by Spanish extremists with Moroccan links that killed 16 people around Barcelona. Five of those detained on the 6 Sep 17 are Moroccan and one is a Spaniard of Moroccan origin, Spain's Interior Ministry said. The alleged leader of the cell dismantled was a 39-year-old living in Melilla who was arrested while visiting Morocco. He allegedly recruited youngsters at a re-education centre where he worked and used Islamic State group propaganda to train them, the ministry said in a statement. Investigations found that members of the cell planned terrorist operations in Morocco and Spain, holding secret overnight meetings and carrying out training for eventual attacks with knives, the Moroccan Interior Ministry said in a statement. The ministry said the operation comes amid a growing terrorist threat in both countries, and as IS pushes to multiply operations outside Iraq and Syria. There was no suggestion of a link with the Barcelona attackers. Since mid-2015, Spain has arrested 199 people accused of links to extremism.
United Kingdom/New IRA – Dissident republicans have developed a new kind of under-car bomb, the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) reported on the 1 Sep 17. It involves a pressure plate designed to detonate when a car drives over it. The method was used by the New IRA when the group targeted an off-duty officer in Londonderry in Feb 17. "The pressure plate is a crude method of detonation," said Detective Superintendent John McVea. "Not sophisticated, but a very effective means of detonation." He expressed concern that the New IRA had access to high explosives, and appealed for new information regarding the device found under the officer's car at Ardanleee, in the Culmore area of the city. Police believe a similar pressure-plate device was used in an attack at Ballyarnett Village in Derry, in Oct 14 when a bogus phone call was used to lure officers to the area. Magnetic under-car bombs have been commonly used by dissident republicans to target police officers in the past. Modern cars are made using more plastic, the senior officer explained, making it more difficult to attach a magnetic device. The bomb itself comprises a box of explosives wrapped in tape and placed under a car.
United Kingdom – An "improvised explosive device" was detonated on a Tube train in south-west London during the rush hour on the morning of the 15 Sep 17, Scotland Yard confirmed. The blast, at Parsons Green station on an eastbound District Line train from Wimbledon, was being treated as terrorism. Twenty-two people were treated in hospital, mostly for burn injuries. A hunt for the person who placed the device was under way, with hundreds of detectives and MI5 investigating. Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the "cowardly" attack, which she said had "intended to cause significant harm". Speaking in Downing Street after chairing a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee, she said there would be an increased armed police presence on the transport network in London. Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley earlier refused to reveal whether anyone had yet been arrested. Pictures taken of the train show a white bucket on fire inside a supermarket bag, with wires trailing on to the carriage floor. It is understood the device had a timer. The device appeared to not have functioned as it intended. Later on the 15 Sep 17 the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the bombing on the London tube train. The group’s Amaq News Agency first released a short statement claiming that a “detachment” carried out the attack. The Islamic State then released a longer statement saying that “soldiers of the caliphate” had placed “several” bombs and exploded one of them. The jihadists did not provide any specific details about the perpetrator(s). British authorities at the time of reporting had not yet publicly identified any suspects, nor had they confirmed that multiple bombs were placed throughout London. British authorities say they are still hunting “those responsible” and it remains to be determined what connections, if any, there are to the self-declared caliphate.