Euro 2016 terror plot foiled, claim Ukrainian authorities.
A French citizen arrested with a “vast arsenal” of explosives and assault rifles was planning “15 attacks” to coincide with the Euro 2016 football tournament in France, according to Ukraine’s state security service.
Confirmation of the arrest of Gregoire Moutaux, 25, a suspected far-Right nationalist, came on the day the England team arrived at their French base ahead of their first game in Marseille on Saturday.
Police said Moutaux, who was seized on Ukraine’s border with Poland on May 21, had amassed a vast arsenal including “more than 5000 bullets, two anti-tank grenade launchers, 125kg of TNT, 100 detonators, 20 balaclavas and other things”.
Moutaux, who comes from Bar-le-Duc, in north-east France, was driven by ultra-nationalist views. His intended targets included Jewish and Muslim places of worship and buildings involved with the football tournament, as well as police patrol units, according to police.
French government administration buildings were also a target. He had planned to mine roads and bridges in several regions of France, officials said.
“The Frenchman spoke negatively about his government’s actions, mass immigration, the spread of Islam and globalisation, and also talked about plans to carry out several terrorist attacks,” said Vasyl Grytsak, head of the Ukrainian state security service, SBU.
Moutaux, a farm worker, had made contact with armed groups in Ukraine with the aim of buying weapons and explosives. Officers who raided his home found neo-Nazi T-shirts, as well as chemicals used to produce explosives and five balaclavas. He had no criminal record.
Locals in Nant-le-Petit, which has a population of just 80 people, described Moutaux as a “polite and pleasant lad”.
Grystak warned Moutaux may not have been acting alone because 15 attacks in France would be impossible for a lone wolf assassin to carry out. Moutaux’s arrest came amid disclosures that 82 members of the 3,500-strong security personnel policing the tournament are on France’s intelligence service watch list, which includes Muslim radicals.
Thousands of British football fans are due to travel to France for Euro 2016 this week. The US State Department has warned nationals to remain vigilant of potential attacks in “fan zones” and other public places.
A heavily-armed military guard ushered England’s footballers into their hotel yesterday after the team flew into France. Soldiers helped police erect a ring of steel around the team’s hotel in Chantilly, 55 kilometres north of Paris.
Meanwhile, the threat of disruption from French labour strikes continued on Monday after hardline unions in SNCF, France’s national rail operator, called a seventh straight day of walkouts after talks failed to break the deadlock over pay and working hours.