France faces ‘unprecedented’ terror threat: ‘They are pros, not dropouts’

Paris: The threat of a jihadist attack in France has reached a level “without precedent” and new attacks are inevitable, top counter-terrorism officials have said.

“The threat is permanent,” said one high-level official in the defence ministry.

“Not one day goes by without an alert, the discovery of a network trying to send people to Syria or Iraq, or an intervention [by the security services].

“The number of targets has exploded. There are two or three thousand, maybe four thousand, people identified or suspected of evil intentions.”

Nor are they all amateurs, the source added – many are highly educated. “They are pros, not dropouts,” he said.

Defence ministry specialists say the jihadists “use the best encryption and concealment techniques” and that security services are “playing catch-up”.

“Every time we get our hands on a network, we see they are each using seven or eight SIM cards, changing them constantly. And the most cunning don’t go near phones at all – they use messengers.”