Police Arrested 20 Islamists Following Toulouse Murders, Terrorist Network May Be Shut Down (JEWISH PRESS) By: Yori Yanover 03/30/12)
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French elite police units, including the same RAID unit that took 32
hours to spray Toulouse gunman Merah with bullets, have now taken the
initiative, and early Friday morning arrested some 20 Islamist
militants, including a few in Toulouse.
RAID carried out the arrests in Toulouse in the southwest, Nantes and
Le Mans in western France, as well as in the Paris region.
The obvious question is: seriously? A week later, and only twenty bad
guys are under arrest?
Americans, Israelis, let’s face it, Mankind, are happy to make fun of
the French when it comes to military and police capability. They make
fantastic cheese and wine, goes the generally accepted notion, but
when it comes to security we’d all prefer to be watched over by Navy
Seals or Israeli Commandos.
That general notion is more than a bit unfair, but all of us are not
eager to be confused with the facts when it comes to evaluating the
Our prejudices were only reinforced by the performance of the elite
RAID unit in Toulouse. Last week, Christian Prouteau, founder of the
GIGN, an elite French police unit that was not part of the Toulouse
failure, questioned the way the operation had been carried out. He
asked why RAID had not utilized tear gas and other measures to
disable Merah, and said he was surprised that after so many hours of
waiting, Police still failed to capture the gunman alive.
But bungling the job in Toulouse does not necessarily imply that
Police have their numbers wrong.
Interior Minister Claude Gueant last week defended the security
forces’ efforts to stomp out terrorism in that country, saying 700
people have been detained over the past 10 years, and about
60 “Islamists with terrorist tendencies” are currently in French
How many active Jihadists are operating in France? And how many are,
in effect, engaged in plotting the next wild, murderous attack?
The French news channel France 24 says French authorities believe
that only between 20 and 30 French nationals are tied to the radical
Jihadist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
CNN, citing a 2010 French intelligence estimate, says the potential
number is more like 200 or 250.
Mathieu Guidère, a professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at
the University Toulouse II-Le Mirail, told France 24 that the number
of French radical Islamists, both violent and non-violent, may be as
high as one thousand, with a nucleus of a few—only 10 to 20—who are
engaged in plotting.
How reliable are those figures? This depends on the reliability of
the men and women in and out of uniform who gather the data. And in
that area, the French have been gutsy leaders rather than cowardly
Marc Perelman, writing for Front Page Magazine in 2006, described a
1988 appearance of Alain Marsaud, then France’s top antiterrorist
magistrate, before FBI new recruits at the bureau’s academy in
Marsaud told the audience of would-be federal agents of the deadly
threat posed to Western society by radical Islamist terrorist
networks. His presentation was “an unmitigated flop.”
“They thought we were Martians,” said Marsaud, who at the time of the
interview chaired the French Parliaments domestic security
commission. “They were interested in neo-Nazis and green activists,
and that was it.”
Excellent cheese and wine aside, it was France which uncovered and
thwarted a plot to crash a jetliner into the Eiffel Tower, which was
a chilling preview of the 9/11 attacks on the US. France was the
first to deal with the unpleasant fact that its own citizens may
become assets of Islamist terrorist groups—years before British
Muslims bombed the London Underground.
France learned all about Arab terrorism from the Algerian war in the
1950′s, from Palestinian groups in the 1970s, and from Iranian- and
Syrian-inspired terrorism in the 1980s. As a result France developed
a system that connects seamlessly the judiciary and security forces.
The 1986 comprehensive antiterrorism law set up a centralized unit of
investigating magistrates in Paris, headed initially by Marsaud, with
jurisdiction over all terrorism cases. Unlike other French criminal
proceedings, “terrorist trials in France are judged only by panels of
professional magistrates, without the participation of juries.”
In the French system, an investigating judge is the equivalent of an
empowered U.S. prosecutor. The judge is in charge of a secret probe,
through which he or she can file charges, order wiretaps, and issue
warrants and subpoenas. The conclusions of the judge are then
transmitted to the prosecutors office, which decides whether to send
the case to trial. The antiterrorist magistrates have even broader
powers than their peers. For instance, they can request the
assistance of the police and intelligence services, order the
preventive detention of suspects for six days without charge, and
justify keeping someone behind bars for several years pending an
investigation. In addition, they have an international mandate when a
French national is involved in a terrorist act, be it as a
perpetrator or as a victim. As a result, France today has a pool of
specialized judges and investigators adept at dismantling and
prosecuting terrorist networks.
Olivier Guitta wrote in Front Page Magazine in 2005 that “the French
understand how clerics and imams radicalize members of the Arab
community and help to enlist them in terrorist causes.”
Louis Caprioli, former head of the counter-terrorism unit of the DST,
the French equivalent of the FBI, said that behind every Muslim
terrorist is a radical imam, and France’s counter-terrorism
organization, a unit of the French police called les Renseignements
Généraux, or RG, are monitoring imams to prevent potential terrorists
Preventive measures include refusing visas to imams coming from Saudi
Arabia, expelling Islamist radicals including imams, and arresting
and jailing potential terrorists.
Yves Bertrand, the RG’s former chief, said his job as “ the
Republic’s land-mine specialist.” And since most new terrorists acts
are homegrown and Islamist-inspired, as was the case in London, the
RG have been focusing on potential dangerous French residents for at
least the past twenty years.
And so, despite the alarming number of radicalized Muslims reported
in France—between 50 and 100 thousand—it may be that the French are
not necessarily in a state of denial when they suggest that they’ve
rounded up the potential terrorists who had been roaming free—but
monitored—before the Toulouse murders. (© 2012 JewishPress. 03/30/12)
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