Three men have been handed preliminary terror-linked charges in the failed attack a week ago on a residential building in an upscale Paris neighborhood with gas canisters that failed to ignite, a judicial official said Saturday.
The suspects were placed under formal investigation late Friday in the mysterious attack attempt in the building in western Paris’ chic 16th arrondissement, the official said. No motive for the attack has been uncovered, and the three have refused to answer questions. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak on the record about an ongoing investigation.
The trio has denied a role in the attack plot in which four gas canisters on the building’s ground floor, doused with gasoline, were set to explode once a phone call was made to a mobile phone that served as a detonator, anti-terrorism prosecutor Francois Molins said at a Friday news conference. A resident awakened by a whistling sound and the smell of gas alerted police. Molins said the explosion, had it been pulled off, could have led to “dramatic human and material consequences.”
But a week later, the mystery remains. Investigators have yet to find a “logical explanation” for why the building was targeted, the prosecutor said. The attempt to destroy the building stood apart from numerous other attacks in France, including last week’s deadly knife attack on two young women at the Marseille train station, claimed by the Islamic State group. Investigators continued that probe with no known concrete advances about the attacker, killed by soldiers, who used seven identities, including a Tunisian passport.
Two of the three men charged in the attempted Paris bombing, identified as Aymen B., who turns 30 next month, and Amine A., 30, are among thousands on a list for radicalization. Samy B., 28 and father of three, also was charged.
All were held for attempted murder linked to a terrorist enterprise, transporting explosives and participating in a terrorist association aimed at preparing attacks. They all had been convicted in the past. Aymen B., convicted three times, had been checked last November by police when he was found praying in the emergency lane of a highway, along with Amine A., detained in 2013 in another terrorist case.