Published On: Wed, Oct 16th, 2019

Notre-Dame car bombing: All-female ISIS cell jailed for botched terror plot in France | World | News

The five women, aged between 22 and 42, were arrested after police found a car packed with gas cylinders and cans of diesel parked a stone’s throw from the famous cathedral in the early hours of September 4, 2016. Investigators concluded from cigarette butts and a petrol-doused blanket left at the scene that there had been a failed bid to set off an explosion. The only reason the car did not burst into flames is because diesel is not easily flammable, they said.

Fingerprints led to two people: Ines Madani and Ornella Gilligmann.

They were sentenced to 30 years and 25 years in prison respectively.

Mrs Madani convinced the other defendants to join the plot by posing online as a male jihadi who had returned from Syria and was seeking a bride.

Mrs Gilligmann, a married mother of three, told the court she had acted out of love for a fictitious ISIS fighter named Abou Junayd, for whom she left her husband.

According to prosecutors, the two women parked the car after sending a video claiming responsibility for the attack to Rachid Kassim, a notorious French Islamic State (ISIS) militant.

The ISIS propagandist is said to have ordered the attack from a base in Syria. He is believed to have been killed in a coalition air strike near the Iraqi city of Mosul in February 2017.

Mrs Madani was arrested a few days after the failed attack in a Paris suburb alongside two other defendants, Sarah Hervouet and Amel Sakaou, who were each sentenced to 20 years.

When police arrived, the three ran out of their Paris hideout wielding kitchen knives. Mrs Hervouet stabbed an officer in the shoulder, while Mrs Madani was shot in the leg.

A fifth woman, Samia Chalel, was sentenced to five years in prison for helping hide Mrs Madani.

Mrs Madani told the court on Monday that she regretted her actions: “At the time all my plans involved death. Today, my plans are about life.”

A tearful Mrs Gilligmann apologised for the “shame” she had brought on her family and asked for forgiveness from the victims of terrorism.

France has been badly shaken by a string of jihadist attacks since January 2015, which have caused the loss of some 255 lives and left scores more traumatised or injured.

The Notre-Dame case, however, is the first to involve a group of women attempting to stage an attack on French soil.

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