French marines held over anti-terror probe

Two French marines were arrested by intelligence agents this week as part of a probe into an anti-Semitic bomb attack near Paris last autumn. One of the soldiers is the brother of a suspected jihadist in Syria.

French marines held over anti-terror probe
Two French marines were arrested this week as part of a probe into a terror cell implicated in an anti-Semitic grenade attack. Photo: Renaud Camus

The two marines, stationed at a French naval base in the southern city of Toulon, were arrested on Monday by the DCRI, France’s central intelligence directorate, army secret service, and the anti-terrorist division of France’s judicial police.

The men are accused stealing military-owned bullet-proof jackets and heavy-duty helmets.

They were arrested in connection with a probe into a terror cell implicated in an anti-Semitic bomb attack near Paris last September, it was revealed on Thursday.

A brother of one of the suspects is believed to be an Islamist extremist fighting with anti-Assad rebels in Syria.

According to sources cited by French radio Europe 1, investigators probing the terror cell had been keeping the jihadist militant under surveillance in Syria.

Upon learning that his brother was serving in the French military in Toulon, intelligence agents then placed the 23-year-old marine under watch over the last few months.

In the course of that surveillance, he was found to have purchased the stolen equipment from another marine.

Both men were arrested on Monday.  The marine accused of purchasing the material has been kept in custody until Thursday.

The 23-year-old was due to leave the French military in July and begin a career in private security, Europe 1 reported.

The ongoing investigation centres around whether the stolen bullet-proof vest and helmets were intended to be used in a new job in private security, or for terrorist activity.

The September grenade attack on a kosher supermarket in Sarcelles sparked a major anti-terrorist investigation which led to the discovery of bomb-making equipment and the arrest of 12 suspected members of a jihadist cell near Paris in October.

The suspected leader of those detained, 33-year-old Jeremie Louis-Sidney, was shot dead in October last year after he opened fire on officers seeking to arrest him in a dawn raid at his home in the eastern city of Strasbourg.

A list of Jewish organisations in the Paris area was found at one of the addresses where the bomb-making components were discovered.

The Sarcelles grenade attack was one of the most high profile incidents of anti-Semitism, which soared by 82 percent in 2012 according to a worrying report.

Last year also saw the murder of four Jewish people in Toulouse, including three children by self proclaimed Al-Qaeda inspired gunman Mohamed Merah.

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Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim’s x-ray

A Paris court on Wednesday convicted a surgeon for trying to sell an X-Ray image of a wounded arm of a woman who survived the 2015 terror attacks in the French capital.

Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim's x-ray

Found guilty of violating medical secrecy, renowned orthopaedic surgeon Emmanuel Masmejean must pay the victim €5,000 or face two months in jail, judges ordered.

Masmejean, who works at the Georges-Pompidou hospital in western Paris, posted the image of a young woman’s forearm penetrated by a Kalashnikov bullet on marketplace Opensea in late 2021.

The site allows its roughly 20 million users to trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – certificates of ownership of an artwork that are stored on a “blockchain” similar to the technology used to secure cryptocurrencies.

In the file’s description, the surgeon wrote that the young woman he had operated on had “lost her boyfriend in the attack” on the Bataclan concert hall, the focus of the November 2015 gun and bomb assault in which jihadists killed 130 people.

The X-Ray image never sold for the asking price of $2,776, and was removed from Opensea after being revealed by investigative website Mediapart in January.

Masmejean claimed at a September court hearing that he had been carrying out an “experiment” by putting a “striking and historic medical image” online – while acknowledging that it had been “idiocy, a mistake, a blunder”.

The court did not find him guilty of two further charges of abuse of personal data and illegally revealing harmful personal information.

Nor was he barred from practicing as prosecutors had urged, with the lead judge saying it would be “disproportionate and inappropriate” to inflict such a “social death” on the doctor.

The victim’s lawyer Elodie Abraham complained of a “politically correct” judgement.

“It doesn’t bother anyone that there’s been such a flagrant breach of medical secrecy. It’s not a good message for doctors,” Abraham said.

Neither Masmejean, who has been suspended from his hospital job, nor the victim were present for Wednesday’s ruling.

The surgeon may yet face professional consequences after appearing before the French medical association in September, his lawyer Ivan Terel said.