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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat

Frenchman, Moroccan Get Lengthy Jail Terms for Attack Plot in France

French police stand guard in Paris. Reuters file photo

A Frenchman and a Moroccan received heavy prison terms on appeal Friday for an attack plot that was foiled after an intelligence agent posing as a militant infiltrated their cyber network, AFP reported.

Yassine Bousseria, 42, was sentenced to 24 years in prison for participation in a terrorist conspiracy to prepare terrorist acts, the same term he had been handed by a lower court in February.

The other man in the dock, Hicham El-Hanafi, 31, was sentenced to 30 years in prison, also in line with the lower court ruling.

A third person convicted in the case, Frenchman Hicham Makran, was sentenced to 22 years in jail in February and did not appeal.

The three were tried on charges of joining a terror group with a view to carrying out attacks, AFP said.

An agent from France's DGSI domestic intelligence service, using the codename Ulysse, had infiltrated communication networks of ISIS militants in a ruse that led to the arrest of the three.

The case began in 2016. After intelligence indicating ISIS was seeking to obtain weapons for a "violent action" on French soil, the DGSI agent managed to penetrate an encrypted Telegram messaging loop and make contact with an ISIS "emir" in Syria, nicknamed Sayyaf.

Sayyaf said the militants needed munitions including four Kalashnikovs, which Ulysse said he could supply.

In June 2016, Sayyaf sent Ulysse 13,300 euros ($16,000) in cash which was deposited on a grave in the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris.

With this money, Ulysse then told Sayyaf that he had bought weapons and hid them in a forest north of Paris. The surroundings were then equipped with surveillance cameras.

French intelligence then received information that the two French citizens, who had been around the Turkish-Syrian border, had come home and were readying for action.

They were arrested and found to have a USB key encrypted with the coordinates of the arms cache.

"The facts established against Hicham El-Hanafi are the most serious that can be committed in the context of a terrorist conspiracy, since they were directly aimed at committing an attack with a weapon of war on French territory," the court heard Friday.

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