Algeria arrests jihadist linked to Paris attacker

Algeria foils terror plot masterminded by jihadist with links to terrorist behind Paris kosher market attack.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Flag of Algeria
Flag of Algeria

Algerian security forces have foiled a "terrorist plot" masterminded by a jihadist with links to France-based jihadist Amedy Coulibaly and the Islamic State (ISIS) 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 and then four hostages at the Hyper Cacher 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 kilometres (40 miles) west of Algiers, Al-Khabar said.

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.

It said the investigation had uncovered a link between Aknouche and "murderous attacks in European countries... committed by Daesh", using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Algerian authorities declined to give AFP further details.

Last year, Algerian authorities jailed a man with dual Algerian and Belgian citizenship over his links with the ringleader of the November 2015 attacks in Paris, Abdelhamid Abaaoud.

Abaaoud died five days after the Paris attack, in a shootout with police in St. Denis north of Paris at an apartment where he had been staying.

He had planned attacks on Jewish targets in France as well.

ISIS has a branch in Algeria, which calls itself Jund al-Khilafah, or the Soldiers of the Caliphate. In 2014, the group decapitated a French hostage after France ignored their demand to stop airstrikes in Iraq.

AFP contributed to this report.