French teenager suspected of plotting terrorist act at Paris Olympics

The 16-year-old had ‘pledged allegiance’ to Islamic State and has admitted his plans

Police were tipped off to the teenager’s plans after he posted about it on the messaging app Telegram

A teenager from eastern France has been arrested on suspicion of plotting to commit a terrorist act during the Olympic Games in Paris this summer.

The anti-terrorist unit le Parquet national anti-terroriste (PNAT) confirmed to the AFP that a 16-year-old from Haute-Savoie (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) had been placed in custody on April 24.

Documents found in the teenager’s parents’ house showed that he had ‘pledged allegiance to the Islamic State’, and was planning to kill himself during an attack in La Défense.

He also posted his intention - on encrypted messaging app Telegram - to die as a martyr during the Games by building his own explosive belt. This led to a police tip-off.

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Plans admitted and investigation continues

The teenager has since admitted to officers at the Direction générale de la sécurité intérieure (DGSI) that he planned to carry out a "suicidal terrorist act" in the La Défense business district. 

He planned to use a belt and/or a gun, he said. He was also prepared to be killed by police, he said.

The 16-year-old was already known to authorities due to his Islamic radicalisation.

Investigators from the DGSI are continuing to investigate, and “determine, in the light of the personality of the person in custody, the reality of the planned terrorist act and, where appropriate, its state of completion”.

The public prosecutor has opened an investigation into the charge of “participation in a criminal terrorist association with a view to the preparation of crimes against the person”, but has urged “caution” and warned against further speculation at this early stage of the case.

Games security plans

President Emmanuel Macron has already spoken about the country’s security plans during the Games.

He has said that he wants to ensure that the Opening Ceremony and all the events are secure, while also maintaining reserve forces to deal with the possibility of other incidents happening elsewhere, “such as major fires or a terrorist attack”.

“That means we must have reserves and not mobilise everyone,” he said.

Already, there are plans for 7,000-11,000 police officers to be mobilised in relevant areas everyday, depending on the events taking place.

Some 17,500 specialist security officers will also be trained ahead of the event.