French police on Thursday said it had intercepted a terrorists' plot to blow-up the famous romantic monument Eiffel Tower, the Louvre as well as a nuclear plant in France last summer.
Their primary suspect was an Algerian butcher living in southern France who had allegedly been sending a series of coded messages with top al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) members.
The terrorists' supposed targets were Paris tourist sites and "thousands of Christians."
Police arrested the butcher, identified only as Ali M, in June 2013, a few weeks before his scheduled trip to Algeria for training.
Top al-Qaeda members allegedly asked Ali M how he would "conduct jihad in the place you are currently." His reply was targeting and blowing up nuclear power plants, "planes at the moment of take-off," 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 said.
"The main walkways become black with people and a simple grenade can injure dozens of people, not to mention a booby trapped device," Ali M said.
He likewise suggested hurling terror attacks on the "modest and poor French population" in markets or nightclubs.
Presumably impressed with his strategy, AQIM suggested to Ali M, a married father of two children who had spent at least five years in France, that he should undergo training in military techniques in the desert of southern Algeria before he carries out his terrorist attack plans.
Once he finishes his training, he will return to France, stake out targets and "await your instructions."
"I am fully ready and prepared," he reportedly replied to the AQIM members.
Daphné Pugliesi, Ali M's lawyer, denied allegations hurled at his client and said the butcher had been brainwashed.
"The arrest was a relief for him," Pugliesi told Le Parisien.
Since his arrest Ali M has been held in custody in France awaiting trial for "criminal association."