[A French solider planned to open fire at the Minguettes Mosque at Venissieux, a Lyon suburb.]
By Elham Asaad Buaras
A soldier was arrested in France on suspicion of planning to fire shots at a mosque near the eastern city of Lyon, the Interior Ministry announced on August 11.
The 23-year-old Air Force sergeant, who investigators say is “close to the radical far-right”, was arrested at the Lyon Mont Verdun airbase.
He was remanded in custody on August 7 and charged with the possession of ammunition and plans to damage a place of worship “in connection with a terrorist enterprise”.
Judicial officials said he told investigators that he planned to fire the shots at the Minguettes Mosque at Venissieux, a Lyon suburb, on Eid day.
Grand Mosque of Lyon Imam, Kamel Kabtane, said the foiled terror attack was a demonstration of the current “climate of Islamophobia in France”.
He added: “The fact that a military base was shut down for arrest of a planned terrorist attack shows that a climate of Islamophobia reigns in France today, we cannot close our eyes,” said Kabtane.
He also admitted to throwing a Molotov cocktail at the door of the mosque in Libourne (Gironde) on the night of August 21, 2012. No one was hurt in that incident which did not cause any damage.
Relatives had contacted the police after finding suspicious documents in his possession.
According to sources the unnamed soldier had tried on three occasions to contact far-right extremist Maxime Brunerie who attempted to assassinate French President, Jacques Chirac, on July 14, 2002 in Paris, during the Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Élysées.
The Ministry of Defence has refused to comment on the arrest. A spokesman for the Ministry said the arrest was a “police operation”.