Jamaican News

The Latest: Russian official reveals possible terror plot before 2014 Sochi winter Olympics


PARIS _ The latest on the deadly attacks in Paris. (All times local):

12:20 p.m.

A Russian official has revealed a possible plot ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, saying female suicide bombers had planned to smuggle explosives onto an aircraft in hand cream.

Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov, who has responsibility for counter-terrorism, said the women were detained in Austria and France.

The head of Russia’s FSB security services said in July that many countries had helped to prevent an array of attacks at the Olympics _ primarily Austria, France, Germany, Georgia and the U.S. _ but no details were given.

The Sochi Games were held amid high concern that insurgents from nearby restive Caucasus republics including Chechnya were planning attacks.

Syromolotov, whose comments were carried by Russian news agencies, spoke Monday before the upper house of Russia’s parliament.


12:05 p.m.

The French president, schoolchildren, bystanders have held a minute of silence to honour the 129 people killed in the country’s worst attacks in decades.

President Francois Hollande stood in a crowd of students from Paris’ Sorbonne university, some with their heads bowed, others looking up defiantly.

Crowds gathered at a makeshift monument at Republique Plaza in a neighbourhood targeted by the attacks, where a banner reads “Can’t Scare Us.”

Schools and businesses across the country also held a moment of silence.


11:40 a.m.

Prime Minister David Cameron says seven terror attacks have been foiled in Britain the past six months.

Cameron, speaking on the BBC on Monday, said attacks directed at civilian targets “was the sort of thing we warned about” and that authorities would determine whether further steps are needed to thwart such atrocities.

Cameron announced earlier that his government is doubling spending on aviation security and is recruiting some 1,900 security and intelligence agents.


11:35 a.m.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says 168 locations across France have been raided overnight, and 104 people have been placed under house arrest in the past 48 hours.

Cazeneuve said Monday: “It’s just a start, these operations are going to continue, the response of the Republic will be huge, will be total. The one who targets the Republic, the Republic will catch him, will be implacable.”


11:30 a.m.

A major action with heavily armed police is underway in the Brussels neighbourhood of Molenbeek amid a manhunt for a suspect of the Paris attacks.

Police arrested three suspects in the impoverished Brussels neighbourhood on Saturday and continued house searches. The special action began early Monday.

Neighbours were told to stay away from the street where masked police have sealed off a section.


11:15 a.m.

A senior Turkish official says authorities flagged one of the suicide bombers in the Paris attacks to their French counterparts back in 2014 but received no response.

The official said Monday that Turkish authorities identified Omar Ismail Mostefai as a possible “terror suspect” in October 2014. It notified French authorities in December 2014 and in June 2015.

The official said Turkey had no response from France until after the Paris attacks when it requested information on Mostefai.

The Paris prosecutor’s office says Mostefai had been flagged as having ties to Islamic extremism five years ago.

The Turkish official said Mostefai entered Turkey in 2013 but authorities have no record of him leaving. He said Mostefai’s case shows that intelligence-sharing and effective communication are crucial to counter-terrorism efforts.

The official cannot be named because of rules barring civil servants from speaking to reporters without authorization.


10:50 a.m.

A French official says the suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks was also linked to thwarted train and church attacks.

A French official has identified the suspected mastermind as Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud, and says he is believed linked to thwarted attacks on a Paris-bound high-speed train and Paris area church.

The official, who has direct knowledge of the investigation, was not authorized to be publicly identified as speaking about the ongoing probe.

Seven people are in custody in Belgium suspected of links to the attacks and an international arrest warrant has been issued for a Belgian-born Frenchman believed involved in the attacks and who is still at large.


10:40 a.m.

France is urging its European partners to move swiftly to boost intelligence sharing, fight arms trafficking and terror financing, and strengthen border security in the wake of the Paris attacks.

The top French official in charge of European affairs, Harlem Desir, told reporters on Monday that “clearly, decisions must be taken.”

He underlined the need for “co-operation in matters of intelligence, (between) police and the judiciary, the fight against terrorism on European territory.”

Desir’s remarks came in Brussels ahead of talks with European Union foreign ministers.

He said that “France was attacked, but all of Europe was hit. We were hit together, and we will respond together.”


10:30 a.m.

Britain’s government says it is doubling spending on aviation security and is recruiting some 1,900 security and intelligence agents as part of Britain’s response to the terror attacks in Paris.

Prime Minister David Cameron announced the actions during the G-20 summit being concluding Monday in Turkey.

Cameron, who, pledged a 15 per cent increase in the 12,700-strong staff of the security and intelligence agencies and a doubling of the 9 million pounds ($13.7 million) annual outlay on aviation security. Funds will also be provided for aviation security experts to provide regular assessments of airports around the world.

The steps are part of an extensive review of spending and not a direct response to the Paris attacks.


10:15 a.m.

The Paris prosecutor’s office says two more suicide bombers involved in deadly attacks in the French capital have been identified.

Prosecutors said Monday that one suicide bomber who blew himself up in the Bataclan music hall Friday night was Samy Amimour, a 28-year-old Frenchman charged in a terrorism investigation in 2012. He had been placed under judicial supervision but dropped off the radar and was the subject of an international arrest warrant.

Prosecutors say three people in Amimour’s family entourage have been in custody since early Monday.

A suicide bomber who blew himself up outside the national soccer stadium was found with a Syrian passport with the name Ahmad Al Mohammad, a 25-year-old born in Idlib. The prosecutor’s office says fingerprints from the attacker match those of someone who passed through Greece in October.


10 a.m.

Belgium’s foreign minister is urging European countries to exchange information more quickly and efficiently to better tackle extremists like the Islamic State group.

Didier Reynders told reporters on Monday that “we need to exchange more and more intelligence.”

He told reporters at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers that sharing intelligence “is the only one way to find the people with such a level of radicalization” as those who carried out the Paris attacks.

He also says Belgian authorities need “to organize more and more actions” in the Molenbeek neighbourhood of Brussels, which has been a focal point for religious extremism and fighters going to Syria.

One of two French men believed to have carried out the attacks lived there.


9:40 a.m.

European stock markets have opened lower but the retreat is less than many analysts were predicting in the wake of the attacks in Paris.

Though there are concerns over the impact on the French economy, especially what happens to consumer sentiment, the markets have largely held up early Monday.

The Stoxx 50 index of leading European shares was down 0.2 per cent, while the CAC-40 index in Paris was only 0.4 per cent lower.

Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, said there is “no sign of the panicked trading that could have been justifiably expected.”

Unsurprisingly, stocks within the travel and tourism sector, such as Germany’s TUI and Britain’s Thomas Cook, underperformed.


9:25 a.m.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls says no world leader has asked for the upcoming climate conference in Paris to be delayed, but some side events might be cancelled.

Valls, speaking on French radio RTL Monday morning, says the climate summit is “crucial to the planet’s future”. At least 117 heads of state and government have accepted tinvitations to come on the first day of the Nov. 30-Dec. 11 conference.

Valls says “a series of events that were scheduled might not take place,” referring to a live music show near the Eiffel tower and a march for climate scheduled on Nov. 29 in Paris’ streets.


9:05 a.m.

France’s prime minister says there have been “over 150 police raids” overnight in France.

Manuel Valls spoke on French radio RTL Monday morning, reaffirming President Francois Hollande’s declaration that “we are at war” against terrorism following Friday’s attacks in Paris.

Valls also warned that more attacks could hit “in the coming days, in the coming weeks.”


5:55 a.m.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has announced he is refusing Syrian refugees relocating to his state.

In a news release Sunday Bentley said, “After full consideration of this weekend’s attacks of terror on innocent citizens in Paris, I will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. As your governor, I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way.”

According to the release, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is working with federal agencies to monitor any possible threats. To date there has been no credible intelligence of terror threats in Alabama.


4:50 a.m.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius says France had the “legitimacy” to take action against Islamic State after Friday’s terror attacks in Paris.

Fabius said Sunday on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Turkey that the decision to conduct airstrikes in Raqqa against Islamic State targets was a “political” one and that France had to be “present and active” following Friday’s attacks that killed 129 people.

The Associated Press

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