PARIS --Islamic terrorists operating in France are more agile at plotting attacks, better educated and more ideologically grounded than a decade ago and their numbers are growing despite advances in methods to track radicals, according to former and current intelligence officials. French security services have thwarted several attacks and rounded up hundreds of suspects since deadly bombings in the mid-1990s by Algerian extremists that jolted the nation. While the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks heightened global awareness of the threat, France was already on alert and has not suffered a major attack in a decade.
In a series of AP interviews, French intelligence officials described changes in how terror cells finance and plan attacks, and how they recruit and train. Terrorist funding is coming from ingenious and often small-scale sources: money laundered through halal butcher shops, cannabis dealing, ATM scams.