TIME France

French Terror Suspect ‘Plotted Bombing the Eiffel Tower and Louvre’

The words "With the Syrians" are displayed on the Eiffel Tower in support of Syrians on the third anniversary of the conflict, in Paris
The words "With the Syrians" are displayed on the Eiffel Tower in Paris on March 15, 2014, in support of Syrians on the third anniversary of the conflict that has claimed more than 140,000 lives. On July 9, 2014, French police revealed transcripts of encrypted messages from a French jihadist who planned to target the Eiffel Tower and other French landmarks. Benoit Tessier—Reuters

Revelations come as France's Interior Minister attempts to build support for a controversial antiterrorism bill

A French jihadist was plotting to bomb renowned Paris tourist attractions such as the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, according to intercepted messages he sent al-Qaeda operatives revealed on Wednesday.

A 29-year-old butcher of Algerian descent, only known as Ali M, was sending encrypted emails to a senior member of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) for over a year, reports the French daily Le Parisien.

When Ali M was asked how he would “conduct jihad in the place you are currently,” he suggested targeting nuclear power plants, several landmarks including the Eiffel Tower and “cultural events that take place in the south of France in which thousands of Christians gather for a month,” the Telegraph reports.

“The main walkways become black with people and a simple grenade can injure dozens of people, not to mention a booby-trapped device,” he said.

AQIM suggested that the butcher receive training in military techniques in the desert of southern Algeria prior to undertaking the attacks, but French officers detained him in June 2013, one week before his planned departure. Authorities then set about decoding the encrypted messages.

Ali M’s lawyer, Daphne Pugliesi, told Le Parisien that the butcher had been recruited and brainwashed by AQIM and that his “arrest has been a relief for him.” Ali M is still detained and awaiting trial for “criminal association,” according to France 24.

The transcripts were revealed as France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve attempts to build support for controversial new antiterrorism legislation that would prevent French nationals from traveling abroad if they are suspected of joining the wars in Syria or Iraq. The bill would also crack down on jihad-recruitment efforts online.

Authorities say that 800 French nationals have already gone to Syria since the start of the conflict in March 2011; many have either returned to France or are planning to do so in the future, Radio France Internationale reports.

TIME World Cup

World Cup Kisses Goodbye to Africa

FBL-WC-2014-MATCH54-GER-ALG
Algeria's defender and captain Madjid Bougherra gestures to the crowd after losing their Round of 16 football match against Germany following extra-time at Beira-Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 30, 2014. Gabriel Bouys—AFP/Getty Images

Nigeria and Algeria made World Cup history with tenacious performances

(RIO DE JANEIRO) — Nigeria and Algeria made World Cup history for Africa and now leave with their heads held high.

Despite tenacious resistance, Africa’s last representatives were sent home on Monday by France and Germany.

Those two former champions will next play each other on Friday in Rio de Janeiro. That quarterfinal means Europe is guaranteed at least one semifinalist in this World Cup that has smiled on the Americas, supplier of eight of the last 16 teams.

With exceptional saves, goalkeepers again starred both in France’s 2-0 win over Nigeria and Germany’s 2-1 marathon against an Algerian team whose bravura has been among the many revelations of this surprise-packed tournament.

This was Algeria’s first taste of World Cup knockout football, having never advanced from the group stages in three previous attempts.

Germany needed extra time to win after both teams failed to score in two absorbing halves, and it let Abdelmoumene Djabou get a goal back in the dying seconds, doing little for the three-time champion’s credentials as a favorite to lift the trophy again on July 13.

France, winner in 1998, looks the sharper of the two. Germany’s tactics of pushing players forward and leaving a large chunk of defending to goalkeeper Manuel Neuer would almost certainly undo it against a stronger attack.

Other highlights of another dramatic day at one of the best World Cups in memory included:

—France’s Paul Pogba scored the 146th goal, pushing the tally from this tournament beyond that of South Africa in 2010, with 10 matches still to play.

__The goal total climbed to 150 by the end of Monday’s two games, after an own-goal from Nigerian captain Joseph Yobo that sealed France’s win, extra time strikes for Germany from Andre Schuerrle and Mesut Ozil, and Djabou’s consolation goal. If the current average of more than 2 goals per game holds through to the final, Brazil could finish with the highest goals total of any of the 20 World Cups. The total to beat is 171, scored at France 1998.

—Luis Suarez confessed. Having previously denied that he bit Giorgio Chiellini, the disgraced Uruguay striker reversed course, apologized to the Italy defender and to “the entire football family” via Twitter and vowed that his third ban for biting would be his last.

Chiellini quickly tweeted back: “It’s all forgotten. I hope FIFA will reduce your suspension.”

Suarez is serving a four-month ban for what FIFA’s disciplinary panel ruled was a “deliberate, intentional” and unprovoked bite in Uruguay’s 1-0 group stages win against Italy. Without Suarez, Uruguay promptly lost 2-0 to Colombia in the last 16.

—Facebook said it passed the 1 billion mark in World Cup interactions. No other single event has generated this much activity in Facebook history.

Before Brazil, Africa never had two teams make the knockout stage at the same tournament. Like Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002) and Ghana (2010), the Nigerians were hoping to reach their first quarterfinals after twice stalling at the last 16.

And with goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama flying like Superman, it seemed for a long while that the Nigerians might do it.

The Super Eagles sank claws into France in the first half, with tough physicality viewed leniently by U.S. referee Mark Geiger. In Paris, an ocean of fans watched on a giant outdoor screen at Paris City Hall. Encouragement even came from the famed Orsay museum, which is tweeting photos of blue-themed artworks to encourage Les Bleus. After Edgar Degas’ “The Blue Dancers” on Sunday, Monday’s choice was Lucien Levy-Dhurmer’s “The Inlet.”

France had the best first-half chances and squandered them. Pogba fired a right-footed, taekwondo kick-like volley straight at Enyeama. Brazilian TV’s speed trap clocked the ball at 87 kilometers (54 miles) per hour off the midfielder’s foot.

After Enyeama got a hand to Karim Benzema’s second-half header, tipping it over his crossbar, the French striker kicked one of the posts in frustration.

In South Africa, goalkeepers complained of strange swerves from the ball and there were epic mistakes from Brazil’s Julio Cesar and England’s Robert Green.

But Brazil is becoming a gallery for their art.

Against Germany, Algeria’s Rais Mbolhi somehow got fingertips to a pile-driver off the right foot of German captain Philipp Lahm and stopped a point-blank header from Thomas Mueller.

At the other end, Neuer dug himself out of a goal-mouth scramble and then hoofed an extraordinarily accurate kick up-field to Schuerrle, who couldn’t capitalize on the chance, failing to wriggle free of an Algerian marker. Neuer also showed great athleticism and anticipation haring out of his box against Algerian attacks.

The acrobatics prompted a tweet of admiration from Gary Lineker, top scorer at the 1986 tournament for England: “The quality of goalkeeping at this World Cup has been extraordinarily high.”

Enyeama will rue his mistake that led to the French breakthrough. He flapped at Mathieu Valbuena’s corner. The ball flew kindly to Pogba, who stepped away from Yobo, his marker, to coolly head it in.

When the ball bounced off Yobo’s leg to make it 2-0 for France, Paris crowds erupted with waving flags, raised fists and lusty renditions of the anthem, “La Marseillaise.” With each additional victory, the team is winning forgiveness for the disgraceful strike by players at the last World Cup.

“This team is a pleasure to watch,” French President Francois Hollande purred on Twitter.

Germany, less so. But if it finally hits top gear next Friday, their quarterfinal could be a classic.

TIME Soccer

Algeria Coach: Fasting Up to Players at World Cup

Algeria's national soccer team coach Halilhodzic listens to a question during a news conference in Porto Alegre
Algeria's national soccer team coach Vahid Halilhodzic listens to a question from a journalist during a news conference at the Beira-Rio stadium in Porto Alegre June 29, 2014. Henry Romero/Reuters

Halilhodzic, who has testy relations with sections of the Algerian media and its football association, threatened to leave a news conference Sunday if questions persisted on the topic

(PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil) — Algeria’s players are being left to decide whether or not they observe the Ramadan fast during Monday’s World Cup game against Germany, with coach Vahid Halilhodzic saying it’s not a divisive issue.

Observant Muslims avoid food and liquids from dawn to dusk during Ramadan but can, and often do, skip it if travelling or doing hard physical labor. Some devout Muslim athletes choose to fast during training or competition, but it can create selection difficulties for the coaches in team sports.

Halilhodzic, who has testy relations with sections of the Algerian media and its football association, threatened to leave a news conference Sunday if questions persisted on the topic. He said critics were using the issue to “try and raise hatred of me and my family. This is really disgusting.”

The national football association released a statement denying a report in Algeria’s leading football newspaper suggesting that Halilhodzic, a Muslim, had ordered players not to fast. It’s a potentially sensitive allegation in the mostly Muslim country.

The federation said Halilhodzic had been “very respectful” of the religion in his three years at the helm of the national team.

The veteran coach, a French-Bosnian, said fasting was a “private issue and players will do exactly as they wish.”

“When you ask this question you lack respect and ethics. I would like this to stop. Stop this controversy. Talk about football,” he said, in response to repeated questions at the official pre-match news conference. “And stop asking me about Ramadan, otherwise I will get up and leave.”

The match Monday kicks less than an hour before sunset in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.

The Algeria lineup has been impressive in its three group games, and had its best attacking display so far in a 4-2 win over South Korea. Halilhodzic started that match with five new players following its opening 2-1 defeat to Belgium. They followed that up with a 1-0 win over Russia to reach the knockout rounds for the first time.

“We will do everything we can to try and win this match, but (the Germans) are of a higher quality, more experienced and basically better than us,” Halilhodzic said. “We shall prepare for this game as the most important in our career. We will give it our all.”

Algeria shocked West Germany 2-1 in the group stages of the 1982 World Cup, in what was a colossal upset at the time.

But the team didn’t make it through to the qualifying rounds after the Germans and Austria played out a mutually advantageous result in their last group match in one of the most infamous World Cup episodes.

The build up to Monday’s match has focused on whether this is now the opportunity for Algeria to avenge what has become known as the “Disgrace of Gijon.”

But Halilhodzic and Germany coach Joachim Loew downplayed that Sunday, noting that the vast majority of players were not born when it occurred.

“This is history. There are many things that occur in football. I would like this wonderful championship to finish in a different way,” Halilhodzic said.

TIME Algeria

Algerian Military Plane Crash Kills 102, Leaves 1 Survivor

Algeria Plane Crash
A man watches rescue workers working at the wreckage of Algerian military transport aircraft after it slammed into a mountain in the country’s rugged eastern region, Feb. 11, 2014. A civil defense official said 102 people on board were killed but one person managed to survive. The U.S.-built C-130 Hercules transport crashed about noon near the town of Ain Kercha, 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of Constantine, the main city in eastern Algeria. Mohamed Ali—AP

The C-130 flight was reportedly carrying soldiers and their families when it went down in a mountainous area in bad weather, and all were feared dead for hours until Algerian authorities found a sole survivor among the wreckage

Updated: 11:30 a.m.

A military plane carrying members of the Algerian armed forces and their relatives crashed in the mountainous northeast of the country Tuesday, killing all but one of the 103 people aboard the flight, according to local reports. Rescue crews searching through the wreckage found a sole survivor hours after the crash, according to an Algerian civil defense commander.

The plane, believed to be a Hercules C-130, crashed in the mountainous Oum El Bouaghi province roughly 240 miles east of Algiers. A source told Ennahar radio there were no survivors, according to the BBC. The flight had been en route from Ouargla in southern Algeria to Constantine in the northeast, with 99 passengers and four crew members.

The army has not yet officially confirmed the crash.

[BBC]

This post has been updated to reflect the discovery of one survivor.

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