Iraq warns of Isis plots to hit Paris Metro and New York subway

France ready to launch air strikes into Syria

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The Independent Online

The French government last night announced that it was stepping up anti-terrorist security measures across the nation and extending the number of countries which French citizens were advised to avoid. “Nowhere can now be considered entirely safe,” a senior official said.

Later, the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said at the United Nations in New York that his country’s intelligence agents had received word of a plot by Isis to attack the Paris Metro system and the New York subway.

Asked if the attacks were imminent, he said, “I’m not sure.” Asked if the attacks had been thwarted, he said, “No.”

France – including leading French Muslims – reacted with horror and fury yesterday to the “revenge” beheading of a French mountain guide in Algeria by a jihadist group linked to Isis.

 

To demonstrate France’s unchanged commitment to the struggle against Isis, Dassault Rafael fighter-bombers made new attacks on jihadist positions in Iraq yesterday afternoon and French ministers spoke for the first time about extending the raids to Syria.

The murder of Herve Gourdel, who was captured by jihadists during a trek in the Algerian mountains last Sunday, provoked a wave of revulsion yesterday across the French political, racial and religious boundaries. A group of 18 leading French Muslims – imams, lawyers, businessmen, film-makers, doctors and journalists – signed an open letter condemning the “abominable crime” of a “gang of “fanatical barbarians”.

“We claim the honour of stating that we are also dirty French people,” the Muslim leaders said. Earlier this week, Isis called on Muslims everywhere to commit random attacks on Westerners – especially Americans and “the dirty French” – in revenge for air raids on jihadist forces.

Residents of Mr Gourdel’s home village near Nice marched in protest and mourning yesterday. Flags will be flow at half mast on official buildings across France for three days from today.

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Herve Gourdel, who was kidnapped by Jund al-Khilifa, a group linked to radical Isis militants in the mountainous Tizi Ouzou region in eastern Algeria (Getty Images)

The rector of the Paris mosque, Dalil Boubakeur, had called for a peaceful demonstration yesterday afternoon by “French Muslims and their friends” against a “sick ideology which perverts the values of Islam”. President François Hollande said that Mr Gourdel had been murdered “because he was French, because his country... fights terrorism, because he represented a people... which defends human dignity against barbarism”.

France last week became the first country to join the US in air attacks on Isis positions in Iraq. Until now, Mr Hollande has insisted that bombers, flying from the Gulf, would refrain from attacking Isis positions in Syria. There was no legal basis, he said, for attacks on Syrian soil which might, in any case, strengthen the position of President Bashar Al-Assad.

Following Mr Gourdel’s murder, that position seems to be changing. The Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, said that France was now satisfied that there was a case under international law to strike jihadist forces in Syria, as well as Iraq. The Defence Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said that the possibility of French air raids on Syrian soil was now “on the table”.

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