France opens probe into Notre Dame Cathedral car-bomb attempt

PARIS, Sept. 11 (UPI) — France formally opened a probe on terrorism charges against a woman connected to a car filled with cooking-gas canisters near Notre Dame Cathedral last weekend.

Ornella G., as the suspect is identified, is charged with terrorism association and attempted murder as part of a terrorist group, the Wall Street Journal reported.

She is the first to be charged in the alleged car-bombing plot.

Once the investigation is complete, magistrates will decide if she should stand trial or the charges will be dropped.

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Prosecutors describe the woman as a 29-year-old on France’s anti-terror watch list. She was arrested Tuesday after her fingerprints were found inside the car.

Police also found a blanket in the vehicle with traces of hydrocarbons and a partially smoked cigarette they believe was used in a failed attempt to detonate the gas cans.

Ornella G. was known to authorities as someone considering going to Syria, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said. She was arrested with her boyfriend in southern France Tuesday. The boyfriend has since been released, BBC reported.

Three other women are also being questioned. They were arrested Thursday along with a man.

Police said the group was directed by the Islamic State terrorist group, also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh. One of the women, identified as Sarah H., 23, was engaged separately to two French jihadists, both of whom carried out attacks earlier this year and both of whom are now dead.

Another woman, identified as 19-year-old Ines Madani, reportedly declared her allegiance to IS in a letter. Molins said the woman made several attempts to travel to Syria. A third woman, identified as Amel S., 39, was arrested along with her 15-year-old daughter, who prosecutors said has been radicalized.

The group and their associates were already under surveillance. When the gas cans were discovered, security forces were in a race against time, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

“The young women were remotely controlled by individuals located in Syria within the ranks of the terrorist organization Daesh,” Molins said, referring to Islamic State..

The other women involved have not been charged.

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