Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

Notre-Dame bomb plot: Female terror cell jailed for up to 30 years

The women had attempted to blow up a car outside the Paris cathedral in 2016

A court sketch shows (LtoR) Ines Madani, Ornella Gilligmann and Sarah Hervouet. AFP
A court sketch shows (LtoR) Ines Madani, Ornella Gilligmann and Sarah Hervouet. AFP

Two members of a female Islamic terror cell have been sentenced to at least 25 years in prison over a plot to set off a car bomb outside Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.

Ines Madani, 22, and Ornella Gilligmann, 32, were jailed for 30 years and 25 years respectively alongside three other women on Monday for their part in the attempted car bombing in September 2016.

Madani and Gilligmann had doused a Peugeot 607 packed with six gas cylinders with diesel and tried to set it on fire with a cigarette, the court heard.

The plot was foiled when they failed to set alight the car because they had used the wrong fuel. The vehicle was later discovered by police.

The women were believed to have been acting on the orders of Rachid Kassim, a former youth worker and failed rapper from provincial France who later became an ISIS propagandist.

Kassim, who is believed to have been killed by a US strike in Mosul in 2017, was tried in absentia and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Madani was arrested along with two other defendants Sarah Hervouet, 26, and Amel Sakaou, 42, after being tracked down by police in a Paris apartment a few days after the failed plot.

Hervouet, who was sentenced to 20 years in jail along with Sakaou, stabbed a police officer as the three attempted to escape, while Madani was shot in the leg.

Another woman, Samia Chalel, 26, was sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly trying to help hide Madani.

Gilligmann, who claimed during the trial that she was lured into the plot by Madani, was arrested in southern France.

The court heard how Madani had posed as a male ISIS fighter online to try and recruit women to the extremist group.

Lawyers representing Gilligmann, a married mother-of-three, said she had acted out of love for a fictitious ISIS fighter Abou Junayd. Speaking at the trial, she asked for forgiveness from her family and the victims of terrorism.

Madani, whom the court heard had been radicalised after being sexually assaulted as a teenager, said she regretted her role in the attempted bombing.

"At the time all my plans involved death. Today, my plans are about life," she said.

Updated: October 15, 2019 04:14 PM

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