Islamist Attackers No Longer 'Lone Wolves'

Simon Wiesenthal Center raises alarms regarding threats made by Islamist terrorists that staged deadly hostage crisis at Algerian gas plant.

Rachel Hirshfeld ,

Algerian security escorts a freed hostage
Algerian security escorts a freed hostage

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has raised alarms regarding the threats made by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, spokesman of the Islamist terrorist group that staged a deadly hostage crisis at an Algerian gas plant last week.

In an interview with the journal Paris Match, Belmokhtar claimed to be speaking on behalf of his leader, the Mauritanian Salafist, Hacen Ould Khalil, also known as Joulaybib, whom he quoted as “threatening to commit new attacks against France, in which the Crusaders and the Zionist Jews will pay for its aggressions in the north of Mali."

"I hope that France realizes that there will will be dozens of Mohamed Merahs and Khaled Keikals on a Jewish school in Villeurbanne," he said, stressing that "the attack in In Amenas is merely the beginning."

The Islamists' operation at the In Amenas gas plant was "90 percent successful since we were able to reach a strategic site protected by 800 soldiers with only 40 men", the Islamist leader's spokesman told the magazine.

A total of 37 foreigners were killed when jihadists aligning themselves with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb first ambushed two vehicles near the In Amenas plant before storming the site and taking scores of workers hostage.

“This is a clear sign that native-born sleeper cells in France are directly linked with terrorist groups, such as Al-Qaeda, based in the Middle East and North Africa," said Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Director for International Relations.

“[T]he threat is no longer limited to local 'lone wolves', but elements from France trained in Pakistan, the Horn of Africa and currently in Syria. Once repatriated to France, they are remotely controlled by their mentors in the 'lands of Jihad'," he said.

The Wiesenthal Center joined its French partner, the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA) in urging the authorities "to declare a state of emergency equipping law enforcement to take necessary measures to outlaw a clear and present danger to all French citizens -- Christian, Jewish and Muslim."