The morning of Sunday, April 19, 2015, proved to be fatal for fitness instructor Aurélie Châtelain who was in her car consulting her computer in Villejuif, just outside Paris.

Sid Ahmed Ghlam, 24, an Algerian IT student who has lived in France for many years, was planning a spectacular, intending to attack two Catholic churches in Villejuif as Mass let out.

Ghlam’s car contained a mini-arsenal of several weapons, including a Kalashnikof and a Sphinx revolver. He also had bulletproof vests, GPS co-ordinates for the two churches, their Mass schedules and pro-IS literature.

Although authorities do not have the full story yet, Ghlam’s plan appears to have been to steal Châtelain’s car then use it to drive to the two churches for his bloody assault.

To cover his tracks and ensure she could not report the incident to the police, Ghlam would have to murder her. Subsequent ballistic evidence has matched the bullet to the Sphinx.

Then Ghlam ran into a spot of bother. He accidentally shot himself in the leg and was bleeding profusely. He drove his own car for some distance, then ended up ringing the emergency services! Police arrived on the scene and arrested him. He is currently in custody, although he is only answering certain questions from the authorities. Another weapons cache was found in his dorm room.

Le Monde reported that the Paris prosecutor has revealed that investigators have uncovered correspondence between Ghlam and someone overseas, possibly in Syria. A police source told the newspaper:

His contact seems to have to organised the operation long distance. He asked him to specifically target a church. He even indicated where to pick up the weapons — in a car parked in Seine-Saint-Denis — which, apparently, had been paid for. At one point, Sid Ahmed Ghlam explained that he wasn’t yet ready, but his contact pressured him into taking action.

Although resident in France since 2010, Ghlam spent his youth between family in France and in his native Algeria. Some of his family members belong to the literalist, fundamentalist Muslim sect Tabligh.

He is also friendly with a French female convert to Islam, at whose house he was planning to take refuge after the attacks. The 25-year-old mother of two is also being held for questioning. Her neighbours told Le Parisien that she wore full Islamic dress and had little contact with her neighbours. Ghlam visited her on weekends, and weapons were found in her flat.

Police hope to find out if he had any accomplices and if they can obtain any leads whilst Ghlam is in custody.

Last week, some legislators and members of the public appealed to the French government for police presence at churches throughout the nation. However, their sheer number prevents this from happening.

France’s Conference of Bishops is appealing for Catholics to remain calm though vigilant, pointing out that 200 of the most vulnerable and high profile churches are already under police protection. Their communique states, in part:

Terrorist menaces, of whatever magnitude, have as their objective spreading fear; Catholics will not give in to that. [Churches] must remain open places, places of welcome, conforming to the Catholic spirit.

An article from l’Internaute, another news site, explains at length that the Islamiscist objective is to launch attacks on churches as a way of inciting violence by non-Muslims, especially Christians, against them. In this way, the Islamic radicals can then say that it’s an all-out two-way war of religion and civilisation of which they are the victims.

Jean-Pierre Filiu, a professor at the esteemed Sciences-Po Paris, said that subsequent targets could be business districts and shopping centres.

Filiu said that the peaceful demonstrations of solidarity in January 2015 foiled Islamic aspirations for a violent backlash.

Alain Chouet, former intelligence officer with the DGSE, said that this reasoning dates back to the Islamic Brotherhood of the 1950s. IS is employing the same strategy, to make themselves hated by everyone else and, simultaneously, victims of society.

The radicals hope to make us react with violence. So, let’s try to keep calm instead. As for our governments and intelligence services Filiu recommends neutralising IS leaders and contacts in Syria, notably Boubaker Al-Hakim, said to have influenced the Paris attacks in January 2015.

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