An attack on French soil is likely to happen in the next few weeks or months, according to a senior French foreign intelligence official, who said today that they are on the highest state of alert since 9/11.
This comes amidst news reports of a terrorist plot during the holiday season to strike the Channel tunnel, or Chunnel, that runs between London and Paris.
While a French foreign intelligence service official notes that they are not aware of any specific plots or targets, the foreign intelligence service is on high alert due to an increasing amount of chatter and information that is emanating from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS
According to news reports, the Chunnel plot is being put together and run out of Pakistan.
While he didn't have any indications that such an attack is imminent, ABC News was told by a French foreign intelligence official today that indeed Pakistan and Afghanistan are re-emerging as al Qaeda's main training ground and that there is increasing "chatter" and intelligence coming out of those areas.
The official said "dozens" of Westerners have been trained in North Waziristan and Afghanistan in the past eight months alone and that some have already returned to the West. Most of them were British citizens, said the official, but he added there were some Americans and even a few Frenchmen who, he said, are still being trained.
Based on these pieces of intelligence as well as information shared by the CIA, the French foreign intelligence service thinks that an attack on French soil will be coming in the next few weeks or months.
However, this worry is not shared by any other anti-terrorism police units, which report that "everything is quiet." British authorities believed that everything was quiet, however, before the July 7, 2005 attack in London. In fact, the British had even lowered their alert level the week before.
The Chunnel has been a target for terrorists since before 9/11. The French conducted an "extensive security review" of Eurotunnel in September, which included sending covert operatives for "test runs" and posting undercover "Train Marshals" for several weeks. They did this after specific pieces of intelligence were developed by the British, but they do not have information leading them to believe that there is an imminent threat to the Chunnel. They did, however, raise the threat level in the Chunnel and sent back the train marshals.