A far-right, ex-army fan of New Zealand mass shooter Brenton Tarrant has been arrested on terrorism charges in south-western France after the country’s intelligence agency feared an attack against Jewish targets was imminent.
They found that the man arrested had been looking at the opening times of local synagogues, and already had an arsenal of weapons at home that included guns and explosive devices.
The allegedly antisemitic, anti-Islam and anti-Freemason suspect is currently in custody after being arrested by the French domestic intelligence agency, the Direction Generale de la Securite Interieure (DGSI; General Directorate for Internal Security) in the city of Limoges in the Haute-Vienne department in south-western France.
He has only been named in French media as Aurelien C. due to strict local privacy laws but he is reportedly 36 years old, a former solider and a former Gilet Jaune (Yellow Vest).
He is reportedly a “supremacist” and his Facebook account is full of far-right ideology, including the French translation of Brenton Tarrant’s manifesto.
Brenton Tarrant is the man who attacked the mosques in Christchurch in New Zealand in March 2019.
Aurelien C. reportedly works in private security after having left the army. He is suspected of planning an attack against the Jewish community.
Investigators have yet to determine how far along his alleged plot was.
Reportedly deeply antisemitic and anti-Islam, the suspect is said to have glorified Tarrant, as well as the infamous Norwegian terrorist, Anders Breivik.
The tipping point for the intelligence authorities investigating him was when he started looking up local synagogues online. He was reportedly particularly interested in the opening dates for places of worship after the end of lockdown.
His hate speech was also reportedly increasingly aggressive and violent, and on 12th May, the national anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office (‘parquet national antiterroriste’; PNAT) opened an investigation into him for “criminal terrorist association”.
During a search of his home, investigators reportedly found incendiary devices such as mortars. They also reportedly found two firearms and ammunition.
Aurelien C. was born in 1983 and grew up in Limoges. He has been described as “solitary” and “isolated.” He joined the 2nd Regiment of Hussars, a French cavalry unit, in 2003. Three years later, he quit and began working in security.
According to French newspaper Le Parisien, the suspect was sentenced to five months in prison in December 2018 for illegally owning a firearm, a sentence that was confirmed on appeal in June 2019.
The illegal possession of a firearm reportedly took place during the Yellow Vest protest movement.
According to Le Parisien, he reportedly wrote on social media at the time: “Your Jewish and Freemason monuments, we will knock them down” and that he wanted to “kill the Republic”.
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