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Paris webcam capturing person moving on the roof. Screenshot from YouTube
Paris

Notre Dame: Was it arson?

One of three jihadists involved in a foiled plot in 2016 to launch an attack on the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris was sentenced to eight years in prison by a French court just days before before a fire destroyed the iconic spire and roof.

Published: April 20, 2019, 8:03 am

    The Western world watched in horror as the most prominent feature of the church , la flèche (the arrow), added in the 1850s during a restoration led by French architect Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, collapsed in the engulfing flames.

    All distances in France are measured from kilometre zéro, in front of the cathedral, once described by art historian Kenneth Clarke as the symbol of Western civilization.

    Jihadist Ines Madani, 22, was sentenced following a three-day trial. Madani had been encouraging fellow Syrian jihadists to participate in attacks against France between March 2015 and June 2016 using Telegram – an encrypted messaging app widely used by jihadists.

    Judge Isabelle Prevost-Desprez said that Madani had been recruited an influential ISIS jihadist. “You had some autonomy in the management of your personality…. Your determination marks your dangerousness,” Prevost-Desprez underscored.

    Madani had been using different pseudonyms on social networks, pretending to be a prominent jihadist that had returned from Raqqa to carry out attacks in France. But her lawyer claimed that Madani was only “a girl in search of recognition and love”.

    Madani’s trial for trying to set fire to the car filled with six gas cylinders near Notre Dame will begin later this year. But the sentenced jihadist’s involved in the Notre Dame plot, is not the only striking coincidence. The fire breaking out in the roof is all the more surprising as the workers and members of the public had already left the building for the day.

    And there are more elements that need to be answered. Interviewed by David Pujadas on LCI, Benjamin Mouton, former chief architect of Notre-Dame de Paris, expressed his surprise that the fire had reached such magnitude, so quickly.

    Mouton explained that the 800-year-old oak beams are not fire prone and would need some form of combustion to catch fire. Also, he said, the church had installed various fire alert measures, none of which seemingly functioned on the day.

    There has been a rash of vandalism including suspected arson attacks on French churches in recent weeks, and there is a mysterious video circulating of an individual in the balcony space of the two towers of Notre Dame after the blaze had already started.

    Tourists have access to the balcony space of the two towers and access to the roof space is at that level. From the description of a video uploaded to Youtube by Ola Anderson from a webcam, a flash on the roof of Notre Dame is visible just before the fire.

    “I looked at the stored timelapses (each hour gets a one minute timelapse, one second is one minute) from the webcam and found a shadow (person?) moving on the roof and a flash,” Anderson says.

    Anderson then points out that it may not even have been a time lapse on the webcam. “The clip is marked 15/04 17:05 on the webcam-site and the flash is at 23 sek with some movement a couple of seconds before. Meaning this (might be se correction above) is several minutes in real time.”

    She adds: “There might have been a person doing something there about an hour before the fire started.”

    The date is also suspicious, as on April 15, on the same day in history that the Titanic went down, and the Boston Marathon Bombing took place, the Cathedral in Paris caught on fire.

    The cathedral contained precious relics, including La couronne d’épines and la tunique de Saint-Louis [The Crown of Thorns and the tunic of St. Louis]. The news quickly made the headlines in France when it was announced that not only the Crown and the tunic, but the Holy Nails, and pieces from the “True Cross” were saved.

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    • Liana Alecu

      Everybody knows the fire was actually arson, given the previous fires at other churches in France, like the fire at the Saint-Sulpice Cathedral, just three weeks before the Notre Dame fire and numerous other attacks, desecration of the French churches.The MO is the same, also the culprits.

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