Hackers fighting the Islamic State and al-Qaeda online are on the alert for potential plots against the Euro 2016 soccer tournament in France — concerns underscored by the message of a jihadist who killed a suburban police couple Monday night.
UEFA Euro 2016 kicked off Friday with France defeating Romania 2-1. The final is scheduled for July 10 — five days after the conclusion of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month in which terrorist groups have called for “conquest” attacks.
An estimated two million foreign fans will be pouring through France during the month to attend the games. The biggest problem so far has been hooliganism, with fights between Russian and English fans.
A memo posted Sunday in the pastebin of BinarySec — a leading #OpISIS fighter composed of Anonymous “hacktivists, activists, security analysts and outlaws” — urgently warns colleagues battling online jihad to “keep an eye on Europe, please!”
“There are a lot of innocent people. Our task is to protect them and find possible attacks! Search in ALL social media for possible threats! Everything is relevant. Miss nothing. Forward the data,” the memo states.
Reminding the hacktivists that “we all have one target: terrorists” and are “together up against the devil,” the alert lists the games and times along with information on the towns of play and their respective stadiums.
It lists possible hashtags that terrorists might be using translated to Arabic: game locations, participating countries, methods of transportation, favored catchwords of online jihadis such as crusader and hashtags for the caliphate localized to European countries.
They’re also keeping an eye out for mentions of the public viewing areas in plazas and parks across France.
A list of games and in-depth descriptions of the fan sites, including crowd capacity and maps, was originally posted before the start of Euro 2016 by Controlling Section, an active #OpISIS group that also fields user reports of online ISIS activity.
Larossi Abballa, 25, who was born in France of Moroccan heritage, stabbed police commander Jean-Baptiste Salvaing, 42, outside his home Monday night in Magnanville, about 30 miles outside of Paris. Abballa then took Jessica Schneider, 36, a police station secretary, and the couple’s 3-year-old son hostage inside the home. He killed Schneider and mused in a Facebook livestream that he didn’t know what to do with the toddler. He told negotiators that he had pledged allegiance to ISIS three weeks earlier and was following the directive of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to kill the infidels in their homes.
The child was rescued when police stormed the home and killed Abballa.
Today, ISIS’ Amaq news agency released an 11-minute video of Abballa, in French, naming other attack targets in the country including the Euro 2016 tournament.
“Attack these infidels by your own means, make France and their souls tremble,” he said in a part of the message directed at French Muslims, according to a full translation of the video by MEMRI. “I call upon you to prioritize police officers… I have just killed a police officer and I have just killed his wife. I call upon you to kill policemen, prison guards, journalists, and especially – yes, yes, yes, yes, listen to me well and apply this – attack especially the journalists.”
He followed that with a list of names that he stressed was not all-inclusive as “Allah has not given me all the names.”
“By Allah, kill them all! Kill them! Kill them! They have sold the religion, they have betrayed Allah and his Prophet, so kill them, as well as parliamentarians and mayors of your towns. It’s super easy, you only need to wait for them in front of their offices. Do not let them rest. O policemen, o journalists, know that you will not have any rest, we will wait for you in front of your houses, such is your punishment,” Abballa said, adding jihadists should also target rappers for being “Satan’s allies.”
Directing his message then to French authorities, the terrorist vows, “We have other surprises waiting for you, for the Euro 2016, I will say no more. The Euro will be a cemetery.”
“We, too, Hollande – yes, I have not forgotten your statement – we, too, will be ruthless. I have been ruthless with this police officer and his wife.”
In addition to having to worry about the native terrorists who comprised the majority of cells that conducted the Paris and Brussels attacks, Belgian police have reportedly warned their French counterparts of a pack of Islamic State fighters who left Syria a week and a half ago to eventually split up and conduct attacks in Belgium and France.
“A number of venues were identified, including a non-identified American fast-food restaurant, a shopping mall or a police station,” FRANCE 24 reported of the potential Belgium targets. No specific targets were mentioned in France in the alert.
Belgium police officers have reportedly been told to take their weapons home after their shift in light of Monday’s stabbing outside Paris.