Within hours of the shock report that three jihadists believed to have been involved in the Paris terror attacks last month could be ‘on the run’ in Portugal, police and government authorities were rushing into print and being interviewed on air to play down the likelihood of an imminent threat of an IS-style attack.
First to react to the story published today in Jornal de Notícias was the PJ judicial police, which said in a statement that Portugal’s terror threat remained unaltered, and there were no reasons “for any kind of alarm”.
The PJ added that the alert – sounded by French authorities and Interpol – had not been specifically aimed at Portugal, but at Europe in general.
Backing this all up came a statement from prime minister António Costa, as he broke from meetings in Brussels.
“There are absolutely no reasons for alarm”, he repeated when quizzed by reporters, adding that the PJ had “no concrete suspicions that any of the individuals could be in Portugal”.
Former interior minister Rui Pereira told Correio da Manhã that even if the jihadists had been in Portugal, it was unlikely they were planning an attack. The more probably scenario was that they were on their way back to north Africa, he said.
“We cannot enter into panic” just because of a news story, he told CM.
JN’s report described the three men as “armed and extremely dangerous”, one of them last known to have been driving “a dark Citroen with a French licence plate”.
A car matching that description was reported parked in a suburb of Porto early this morning, causing “huge alarm” before police were able to identify the owner. JN reported on this story, too, saying the car was discovered to belong to French students.