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France: two men who planned a “mass killing” sentenced to prison

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Yassine Bousseria, 42, was found guilty of participating in a terrorist conspiracy with a view to preparing terrorist acts and was sentenced to 24 years’ imprisonment, while Moroccan Hicham El-Hanafi, 31 years, was sentenced to 30 years in prison. The conviction is accompanied each time by a security sentence of two-thirds.

The facts established against Hisham El-Hanafi are the most serious that can be committed within the framework of a terrorist association of criminals since they tended directly to the commission of an attack with a weapon of war on the french territorythe court said.

Concerning Yassine Bousseria, the court noted his real difficulties of introspection and the accentuation in detention of his religious practice.

The Advocate General had requested Thursday 30 years of imprisonment against Hicham El-Hanafi and 25 years of imprisonment against Yassine Bousseria.

Yes, Yassine Bousseria wanted to go to Syria, but it was to fight there, not heresupported his lawyer, Me Camille Le Gall. He is not a dangershe insisted.

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One of Hicham El-Hanafi’s lawyers, Me Foucauld Prache, argued that his client had no never planned to commit an attack in France or elsewhere. We want him to wear a suit that’s way too big for him.

A third man, tried alongside them at first instance, Hicham Makran, a friend of Yassine Bousseria, had been sentenced to 22 years in prison and did not appeal.

Yassine Bousseria was arrested in Strasbourg, eastern France, in November 2016. Hicham El-Hanafi was arrested the next day in Marseille (southeast).

A cyber infiltration operation

Their arrests were part of a daring cyber infiltration operation by the General Directorate of Internal Security (DGSI), dubbed Ulysses.

In March 2016, the DGSI learned from an informant close to the Islamic State (IS) group that the organization was seeking to obtain Kalashnikovs to carry out an attack on French soil.

Ulysses – actually two cyber infiltrators of the DGSI – manages to deceive the distrust of IS and comes into contact with contractors in the Iraqi-Syrian zone.

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Ulysses makes IS believe that he is in a position to supply them with automatic weapons. Four AK-47s, previously demilitarized, are hidden in the forest of Montmorency, in the Paris region, and the GPS coordinates of the cache are transmitted to the principals in Syria.

By transmitting these coordinates to operational in France, IS was actually throwing them into the trap set up by the DGSI. MM. Bousseria and El-Hanafi, who did not know each other, were indeed found with the GPS coordinates of the cache.

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