Algerian security forces have foiled a terror plot masterminded by a terrorist with links to France-based jihadist Amedy Coulibaly and the Islamic State group, the Al-Khabar daily reported Thursday.
Citing “well-placed security sources,” the newspaper said early results of an investigation “show a strong link between the head of the terrorist cell” and Coulibaly, who in 2015 killed a municipal police officer then four hostages in a Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in Paris before being killed.
The alleged head of the Algerian cell, Mohamed Yacine Aknouche, was sentenced by a French court in 2004 to eight years in prison for taking part in a failed plan to blow up a Christmas market in the eastern city of Strasbourg.
The French-Algerian dual national was arrested Tuesday along with a minor and a third person whose identity has not been revealed, in Ain Tagourait, 60 kilometers (40 miles) west of Algiers, Al-Khabar said.
A policeman stands guard on January 21, 2015 in front the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket where jihadist gunman Amedy Coulibaly killed four Jewish men on January 9, 2015 in Paris. (AFP/Eric Feferberg)
During a raid on Aknouche’s apartment, security forces found “dozens of photos” of places he was hoping to attack, including army installations, it said.
Algerian security forces are “trying to determine the type of relationship” between Aknouche and Coulibaly after discovering electronic conversations between the two men, Al-Khabar said.
Republican guards stand outside the Hyper Cacher supermarket ahead of a ceremony marking the second anniversary of the deadly attack against the store in Paris on January 5, 2017. (AFP/Christophe Archambault)
It said the investigation had uncovered a link between Aknouche and “murderous attacks in European countries… committed by Daesh”, an Arabic acronym for IS.