This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Islamist Jihad-Embattled France

The good citizens of France have allowed themselves the relief from fear that Friday night entertainment affords them, relaxing the pervasive tension and allowing them to be persuaded that there are no threats imminent, and that the deadly January Charlie Hebdo and kosher supermarket atrocities were an unfortunate one-off. But then, Cherif and Said Kouachi, who gunned down the unfortunates at the satirical weekly had been trained in jihad through al-Qaeda connections.

This time, it has been a group affiliating themselves with the latest incarnation of deadly violent Islam, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, that has inflicted upon France a newer, more horrific and far-reaching, fear-inducing atrocity, with 124 dead, 300 injured, (80 seriously), and Paris reeling in disbelief. The sympathy of the West is with Paris; national monuments symbolic of freedom and democracy have been lit up in the French colours of national pride. 

Earlier in the week the French government released new figures informing that 1,880 citizens of the country (or residents), were acknowledged to be directly involved in jihadist networks, with 133 of those having died while fighting for Islamist jihad interests; a remaining 491 others still involved abroad, in the thick of conflict. Although France has dispatched its military to challenge Islamist jihad in Mali, Niger and Afghanistan among other countries, it only initiated surveillance flights over Islamic State territory in Syria this month.

It did so not only to help the West attempt to stem the flow of Islamist terror, but in its own self-interest, with the statement that such reconnaissance was required in the intention of preventing future terrorist plans. The response to that came yesterday and was followed by an Islamic State assurance that it was indeed exhilarated to claim that: "eight brothers wearing explosive belts and carrying assault rifles" had carried out the attacks on "carefully chosen" targets.

Soldiers on patrol in south-west France on 14 November 2015

Image caption French security forces are now on the highest state of alert -- AP
That success led to 19 dead in gun attacks at La Belle Equipe, 92 rue de Charonne, 11th district; a dozen dead in gun attacks at Le Carillon bar and Le Pettit Cambodge restaurant at rue Alibert, 10th district; five dead in gun attacks at La Casa Nostra restaurant, 92 rue de la Fontaine au Roie, 11th district; three attackers dead and explosions outside Stade de France, St.Denis, north of Paris; and 80 to 100 dead when the Bataclan concert venue at 50 Boulevard Voltaire, 11th distict was stormed by four gunmen.

"At first we thought it was part of the show but we quickly understood."
"They didn't stop firing. There was blood everywhere, corpses everywhere. We heard screaming. Everyone was trying to flee."
"[Overheard] It's the fault of Hollande, it's the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria".
Pierre Janaszak, radio presenter
After a standoff lasting several hours security forces stormed the concert hall. One of the jihadists was shot dead by police. Three others had blown themselves up. Another four in other venues were said to have blown themselves up with explosives vests. From witness accounts it seems that some of the attackers, taking part in drive-up shootings in front of outdoor cafes, leaving as many people dead as they could shoot in haste, departed in the waiting cars, in just as much haste.

While raising the security threat in the country to its highest point and imposing a nationwide state of emergency the president declared three days of national mourning. President Hollande had been at the sports stadium when the attacks began and he was swiftly spirited away from the venue by his body guards. Questions whether his appearance at a game between Germany and France was known and whether the attack at the sport centre Stade de France deliberately targeted him swirl in the media.

President Hollande has declared that France had been "attacked in a cowardly shameful and violent way. So France will be pitiless in its response to the Islamic State militants". He has vowed to "use all means within the law...on every battleground here and abroad together with our allies". France is determined to respond within the rules in defending itself, while accusing its attackers of shameful cowardice for not respecting the 'rules'. Perhaps he forgets that terrorism acknowledges no rules of civil behaviour, and that's a pity.

Using pathology forensics French police are attempting to establish the attackers' identities, but it is generally believed that the attackers represent a self-contained cell whose members were in Syria but returned to their country of citizenship/residence. One of the attackers is believed to be a French citizen with a known and documented background of involvement in radical Islam. A Syrian and an Egyptian passport were discovered in the detritus of the concert hall, and there are some reports that one of the stadium attackers was female.

Paris is the site of many infamous banlieues, hugely disaffected Muslim communities whose occupants embrace extremist Islamist, categorically refusing the authority of the French Republic. French police prefer to avoid those areas, but when forced to enter do so with an armored military escort holding automatic rifles. The communities crawl with crime, deprivation, poverty, and as such represent superb petri dishes in which to breed terrorist networks.

The combination of an alienated and hostile Muslim community in Paris, along with the return of young men trained in jihadist combat abroad returning to the country presents a perfect storm of opportunity and opposition. And because French intelligence and police services are incapable of penetrating the high wall of silence, unable to enlist informers, collaborators or undercover agents,not a wisp of warning is ever heard to alert authorities.

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