- On September 30, 2016, a homemade bomb was dropped in the middle of the night in a building in the 16th arrondissement.
- Three people were indicted for “assassination attempts in connection with a terrorist enterprise”.
- The choice of this target is still a mystery.
In the rue de Chanez, in the heart of the very chic 16th district of Paris, life has resumed as if nothing had happened. With the arrival of sunny days, the terraces have regained their summer affluence, the kids glide at full speed on their scooters and dry chat in front of the Club Med Gym. Yet no one here has forgotten the night of September 30, 2017. And this morning when they saw, pulling the curtains, dozens of police officers at work in front of the No. 31, even where a homemade bomb was discovered in the middle of the night . “It seems that we really have escaped,” says Mireille, “who will not-say-his age-because-that-are-things-who-do-not-say- not, “leaning on his shopping cart. In view of the investigations, it is not wrong, the failure of this attack is almost a miracle.
What would be the Rue de Chanez today if that night, Yann C., tenant of a two-room on the ground floor, had not kept up until four o’clock in the morning, absorbed by his series? If at bedtime, he had not been bothered by a strong smell of gas? If whispering and a strange whistle had not stopped him from getting up? In the hall, he sees four gas cylinders of 13 liters each surrounded by buckets of gasoline some of which was spilled directly onto the ground. The carpets are soaked. The tenant calls the police then closes the bottles, moves two outside. “His courage and his coolness are remarkable,” blows his lawyer, Pascal Garbarini.
A device so powerful that it could have destroyed the building
By moving the bottles, the thirty notices a remote firing device: a mobile phone connected to a generator. The realization is artisanal but formidable. When activated by a call, the module must create an electric arc to ignite gasoline and gas vapors. The phone received three calls that night but the explosion did not occur. In their report, the experts noted that the two wires probably moved slightly, preventing the creation of a spark.
Another explanation advanced: the contact with gasoline could create a short circuit. Without this, the explosion would have been such that the building “would have been completely destroyed”. In the eyes of the technical and scientific police, the device could only be set up “by people with knowledge of electronics” or “having a diagram and instruction”.
A man listening
On bags used to transport bottles, buckets and jerry cans, two DNAs are quickly isolated, those of two cousins thirties, Aymen and Sami Balbali. Indices accumulate against them. The chip that was used to activate the phone “detonator” is found in the phone of the first. He has also bought in less than 17 hours some 130 liters of gasoline using the total card of his cousin.
Aymen Balbali is far from unknown to the intelligence services . September 15, 2017 – fifteen days before the attempted bombing – the Directorate General of Internal Security (DGSI) reported to the prefecture of Essonne that the man would seek to obtain “large caliber weapons”. He has already been registered with the FSPRT (Terrorism Prevention Report Card) since July 2016, suspected of proselytizing pro-Daesh. Since his radicalization, which goes back two years according to his family, his sisters call him elsewhere “Daesh”. Upon the report of the DGSI, the man is tapped.
“Do not tell me we’re going to delay him until tomorrow”
The transcripts have been declassified and filed. Because, a posteriori, in the middle of innocuous conversations – Aymen Balbali wants to buy a “good little car”, open a pizzeria with “quality products”, spent the day at Disneyland 72 hours before the attempt of attack – some exchanges intriguing. Like when he asks his cousin on September 28 to buy a “little phone” that has never been “used”. The latter hesitates, it is one o’clock in the morning. “Do not tell me we’re going to delay him until tomorrow,” he gets carried away. A few moments later, Aymen Balbali insists: “We finish it and it’s good, tomorrow, that’s it, piuff! ”
A third man, Amine Abbari, 31, is arrested soon after Balbali cousins, indicted, like them, for “attempted assassination in connection with a terrorist enterprise” and locked. His footprints were not found on rue de Chanez, but relatives of Aymen Balbali claim that he was picked up around four in the morning. The thirties, stuck S because of its links with the cell Forsane Alizza , is considered one of his closest friends. The two men have known each other for about twenty years, lost sight of them, they met there about two years ago. In the eyes of the Balbali family, Aymen is in contact with her radicalized.
“I think he made an association between money = Jews = 16th arrondissement”
The progress of the investigation, however, has not yet resolved a central issue. Why this building? No personality resides there. The track of a namesake, without being closed, was not conclusive. “This is the big unknown in this case,” admits a source close to the investigation. Especially since the analysis of the geolocation of the phones suggests that the two cousins conducted scouting in the area four days before the facts. Above all, unusual for them, they took care to turn off their laptops.
Did the jihadists choose the rue de Chanez to spread terror in a neighborhood deemed peaceful? Perhaps this choice was dictated by prejudices associated with money? In any case, it is the hypothesis of a relative of Aymen Balbali. Within his family and friendly circle, many describe him as “openly anti-Semitic”. “When I saw what happened in the 16th, I thought that for him it must surely have a relationship with the Jews. I think he made an association between money = Jews = 16th arrondissement, “says one of them to the investigators, without this assumption could be verified.
“Burning a homosexual mosque”
The interrogations of the three suspects have not allowed to lift this mystery, all minimize their involvement, sometimes provide explanations for the least farfelues. Aymen Balbali admitted to having “participated” by supplying gasoline and lending his phone to a man whose identity he stubbornly refuses to disclose. But he assures that he has never heard of the project of this mysterious sponsor. “Basically, I thought they were going to burn a homosexual mosque in Paris […]. That’s why when he told me that, I said “go ahead”. He had planned to do it in the evening when there was no one left, “he told the judge for his defense.
His cousin Sami also denies his participation, recognizing only that he helped Aymen with what he thought was a robbery. “I knew he was going to do something, but I did not know what exactly,” he explains to the magistrate instructor.
File S “by mistake”
Amine Abbari him, denies en bloc. Beginning with his visit to the parents of Aymen Balbali the night of the attempt of attack. He refutes all accusations, including his radicalization. In a letter written in December 2017 to the former “Minister of Defense” ( sic ) Michèle Alliot-Marie, he explains having been stuck S by “mistake” while infiltrating “on behalf of the gendarmerie” an Islamist group. If he writes to him, he says, it’s because he met her, when he was in an Epid of Essonne, a professional insertion institution. When he left, he first thought about joining the gendarmerie, renouncing it in view of the few mentions included in his criminal record. But keep a nickname: “the policeman”. An application file – refused – was actually filed in December 2008. However, he joined a regiment of the Army in Douai in 2006. But he left after four days. To the judge, to whom he made similar comments, he said he stayed there for six months and left because he did not want to participate in “external operations”.
According to his account, he was recruited “informally for [his] intelligence skills” by the gendarmerie of Essonne, then by the ISB at the end of 2016 to infiltrate Islamist circles. The instructing magistrate, circumspect, he explains having acted voluntarily to participate in the fight against terrorism. “I love France and I say it clearly,” he insists. In his repertoire, there are some numbers associated with police names or nicknames but “most lines do not fit anymore,” note the investigators. Others are associated with police station standards, that is, public numbers.
The analysis of his telephony allows to dismiss his explanation of an infiltration mission entrusted by the gendarmerie. On the other hand, according to The Express quoting a source close to the case, he had contacts with the internal intelligence services without the recruitment process succeeding. “The truth is it not that, disappointed by the fact that you had not been admitted to inform the DGSI, you have, by pride or spite, ordered an attack? Asks the judge. The interested person dies, gets lost in confused explanations, leaving the question in suspense.