Notre Dame car bombing: all-female jihadist cell jailed for failed cathedral attack

Two women with Islamist militant ties who tried to set off a crude car bomb outside Notre Dame cathedral three years ago each have been sentenced to at least 25 years in jail.

They were among five members of an all-female jihadist cell, aged between 22 and 42, who were arrested after a car packed with seven gas cylinders was found parked near the bustling esplanade in front of the Paris cathedral in September 2016.

The two main defendants, Inès Madani, 22, and Ornella Gilligmann, 32, had doused the a grey Peugeot 607 with diesel in the middle of the night and tried but failed to set it alight with a cigarette. The court heard that if it had exploded it would have caused a devastating firebomb and killed or injured at least 60 people in a nearby bar. They were sentenced to 30 years and 25 years in prison respectively.

Prosecutors said they had parked the car after sending a video claiming responsibility for the planned attack to Rachid Kassim, a French member of Isis. Kassim was sentenced in absentia to life in jail, according to Le Figaro.

Madani enticed her fellow defendant to join the plot by posing online as a male Islamist militant who had returned from Syria and was seeking a bride, the court was told.

The court heard that Madani, the fourth of five daughters of a bus driver, had turned to both drugs and religious study after being sexually assaulted aged 17. A close female friend had left to join Isis’ in Syria and Madani’s father had warned the authorities his daughter was also susceptible to leave for jihad.

Two other defendants, Sarah Hervouet and Amel Sakaou, who acted in concert with Madani and Gilligmann, were each sentenced to 20 years.

A fifth woman, Samia Chalel, was also tried for allegedly helping hide Madani. She was sentenced to five years in prison.

Another woman and man were given lesser sentences for failing to report a terrorist crime.

Reuters and Agence France-Presse contributed to this article


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