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Terrorist threats in France

Published on November 4, 2010
Reply by Brice Hortefeux, Minister of the Interior, Overseas France and Local Authorities, to a question in the National Assembly

Paris, November 3, 2010

It is true that for some days now, a body of corroborating intelligence is prompting us to step up our vigilance. We have decided to do so wholly openly, making the situation clear to our compatriots, without exaggerating or underestimating the reality of the threat. The threat, as you know, is Osama Bin Laden’s message for the first time exclusively targeting our country, the letter bombs sent from Yemen to the United States and package coming from an ultra-left Greek movement addressed to President Sarkozy.

In the face of this threat, we are of course active. We are working very closely with our partners in foreign government agencies, both Western ones and those located at the heart of al-Qaeda’s sphere of influence. We are also taking initiatives. For example, on Saturday, the French Civil Aviation Authority (Direction générale de l’aviation civile) took, rightly, the decision to halt freight coming from Yemen. This morning we had a meeting with President Sarkozy on these issues. In particular it was decided to step up, in partnership with a number of affected States, the screening of passengers bound for our country. Finally, the Vigipirate plan remains in force at a high level: “rouge renforcé” (1). At the practical level, 3,400 national and 980 military police officers are mobilized every day.

As you can see, in the face of this real threat, we are pursuing coordinated action with our partners and exercising the utmost vigilance./.

(1) Under the Vigipirate Plan, the armed forces contribute to averting threats and taking preventive measures against potential terrorist action. The “rouge renforcé” [heightened red] level involves greater vigilance in large stores, with more systematic monitoring of shoppers entering them and bag searching, more frequent security announcements in trains, stations and airposts, and a larger police presence at major tourist attractions, etc.

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