A suspected Islamist terrorist accidentally shot himself, and made up a “far fetched” story of how he got the wound — which led police in Paris to uncover what they say was a plot to attack a church with gunfire in what could have been a massacre on par with last December’s murderous assault on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Sid Ahmed Ghlam, a 24-year-old Algerian national, called an ambulance for himself Sunday and waited outside the apartment building where he lived, blood streaming from his leg wound — but he told doctors and later police that he was shot by armed robbers who broke into his home.
He eventually changed his story, saying that he shot himself while trying to dispose of some guns that he owned by throwing them into the Seine River.
But the trail of his blood that led to his own car revealed what the computer science student had in there — namely, an arsenal of what investigators described as deadly “war weapons.” They also found lists of terror targets.
Using DNA samples, police say that they also connected Ghlam to the shooting death of a 32-year-old woman whose body was found shortly before the alleged Islamist was arrested after shooting himself. The woman appeared to have been targeted at random, investigators believe.
The Paris cops also discovered correspondence between Ghlam and a person who, investigators say, might be located in Syria. In one correspondence, the other person requested that Ghlam stage an attack on a church, specifically.
Francois Molins, the Paris prosecutor who announced the arrest on Wednesday, pointed out that investigators found no evidence tying Ghlam to any specific terror group — even though literature from both ISIS and Al-Qaeda was found in the suspect’s apartment.
According to French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, Ghlam was already known to the French intelligence services because the terror suspect had made no secret, thank to a series of social media posts, of his desire to travel to Syria and join ISIS or other jihadi terrorists there.
But the French authorities did not consider Ghlam a threat serious enough to warrant a formal investigation into his activities, Cazeneuve admitted.
Police also brought Ghlam’s girlfriend in for questioning, but what they might have learned from her was not revealed. She was said to be a recent convert to radical Islam who had also recently adopted the wearing of a traditional Islamic hijab.
While Ghlam is reported to have meticulously planned his church attack, even calculating exactly how long police would take to respond, it all came undone when the suspected Islamist terrorist accidentally shot himself in the leg.