Security officials in Ukraine announced they have prevented a major terror plot against the Euro 2016 soccer tournament in France when they arrested a suspect identified as Gregoire Moutaux.
Authorities in Europe have been on high alert after a series of homeland terror attacks, and have acknowledged the highly anticipated tournament was likely a target for extremists around the world. Ukraine officials are still learning more about the suspect, and French security personnel are still on the lookout for future threats, but this arrest shows Europe is no longer turning a blind eye to extremism and the tragic loss of life it can cause.
Ukraine Averts Disaster For France
Ukraine officials did not initially identify the man they detained, but did report he planned attacks on bridges, railways, and other large infrastructure targets during the Euro 2016 soccer tournament.
“The Ukrainian Security Service has managed to foil a series of 15 terrorist attacks which were planned to target France before and during the European football championships,” said Vasyl Hrytsak, head of Ukraine’s SBU intelligence agency.
The New York Times reports the suspect was a French citizen, and was heavily armed when he was detained by authorities.
The Frenchman has been identified as Gregoire Moutaux, who was arrested on the border between Ukraine and Poland last month. Unlike the terrorists involved in the attacks in Paris and Brussels, the suspect has not been tied to the Islamic State. Instead, Ukraine investigators say he was planning the attacks to protest his government’s immigration policies and the spread of Islam.
News of the arrest follows a statement by French President Francois Hollande acknowledging the upcoming Euro 2016 soccer tournament was a likely target for terrorists. However, the president assured his people precautions are in place, and the success of the tournament would send a message that terrorists will not negatively effect the French way of life.
“This threat exists, but we must not be daunted,” he said. “We must do everything to ensure that the Euro 2016 is a success.”
France is deploying around 90,000 security personnel for the tournament.
BBC NEWS says France is on high alert
French authorities have been on high security alert ahead of the European championships, amid fears that the tournament could be targeted by Islamist militants.
THE GUARDIAN says surrounding cities are a concern
Extremist attacks are a major concern for French authorities as they prepare to host the month-long football tournament at stadiums in the Paris area and eight other cities from Friday.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS suggests alternative motivations
Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatists have fought in the east since April 2014, killing nearly 9,400 people. It was not immediately clear which side of the conflict the French man had stayed with.