Showing posts with label France. Show all posts
Showing posts with label France. Show all posts

September 27, 2016

The "Immigrant Jungle” in Calais Will Be Closed




President Francois Hollande said Monday that France will shut down "The Jungle" migrant camp in Calais.

Image: An aerial view shows "The Jungle" in Calais, France
Makeshift shelters, tents and containers where migrants live in what is known as "The Jungle" in Calais, France, on Sept. 7. CHARLES PLATIAU / Reuters
"The situation is unacceptable and everyone here knows it," Hollande said on a visit to the northern port city where as many as 10,000 migrants from war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan live in squalor.

"We must dismantle the camp completely and definitively," he added.

France plans to relocate the migrants in small groups around the country but right-wing opponents of the Socialist leader are raising the heat ahead of the election in April, accusing him of mismanaging a problem. 


July 15, 2016

Bastille Day Attacks (Timeline and self updating graph)



The details of the terror attack that occurred late Thursday night are still developing, Graphiq has put together a timeline and map of the events that will update as new developments become available.


November 16, 2015

France and the US go after Retaliatory Strikes on Targets in Syria




                                                                     




 French warplanes launched a ferocious retaliatory assault late Sunday on targets in Raqqa, the de facto Islamic State capital in Syria, after coordination with U.S. defense officials. 
The French Defense Ministry said that 10 aircraft dropped 20 bombs on facilities used by the militant group, which has claimed responsibility for Friday’s terror attacks in Paris, striking a command center, a militant-training facility and an arms depot.
Opposition activists reached in Raqqa said they counted at least 30 bombs, which they said hit, among other things, a local football stadium, a museum and medical facilities. They said the strikes had knocked out electricity in the city of about 200,000 people.
The French statement said the operation, launched from bases in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, was conducted in coordination with the U.S. military command, which has compiled an extensive target list in Raqqa. U.S. officials, speaking at the G20 summit here that President Obama is attending, said the French operation was discussed between the two militaries, as well as in telephone calls Saturday and Sunday between Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and his French counterpart. 
In Iraq on Sunday, foreign minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said Iraqi intelligence had obtained information before the Paris attacks that the Islamic State was planning an imminent terrorist attack overseas that may have been targeting “in particular” France, the United States and Iran.
“We notified these countries and warned them,” Jaafari said in a statement. The statement did not include specifics of when the Iraqis acquired the information. U.S. intelligence officials did not confirm the report.
Administration officials said the United States would not alter its strategy against the Islamic State in response to the Paris attacks, despite evidence that the terrorist group was expanding its ability to hit Western targets. In recent weeks, Obama has approved escalation of airstrikes in both Syria and Iraq, and authorized deployment of 50 Special Operations troops to assist Syrian Kurdish and Arab forces pushing toward Raqqa. 
Officials said that, in response to Paris, the administration was seeking renewed global commitment to that intensified military action, and to a negotiated settlement of Syria’s civil war. 
France’s retaliation came as Obama held talks with allied leaders and with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, at the summit being held in this Turkish Mediterranean resort city.

Obama vowed again on Sunday to help France hunt down the perpetrators of the attacks. Deputy national security adviser Benjamin Rhodes said Obama agreed with French President Francois Hollande that the attacks, which killed at least 129 and wounded more than 350, was an “act of war.” But he and others disputed suggestions from Republicans that Obama, who said in an interview last week that the U.S.-led coalition had contained the Islamic State, has consistently underestimated the adversary.  The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh, a derogatory term in Arabic, has long harbored ambitions to sow bloodshed farther from its home base in Syria, he said, emphasizing that Obama has been realistic that the fight would be long and difficult.
“It’s the manifestation of what has been the ambition of ISIL for some time now -- to conduct attacks beyond Iraq and Syria,” Rhodes said. “The president indicated when he launched the counter-ISIL strike campaign that he knew ISIL had those ambitions, which is why we have always focused on the threat of foreign fighters.”
The highly coordinated assaults on several locations in Paris on Friday evening have shaken the gathering of global leaders here. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, which intelligence officials said were carried out by three teams of terrorists affiliated with the extremist group.
The attacks prompted Hollande to declare France would lead a “merciless” fight against the Islamic state, a move that could increase pressure on the Obama administration to take stronger actions to ensure that the Islamic State cannot attack the United States directly. 
GOP leaders, including some presidential candidates, have faulted Obama’s strategy as too limited to contain the Islamic State. The Paris attacks, along with the recent bombing of a Russian commercial plane claimed by the group, have thrust the administration’s approach in the Middle East into the 2016 campaign for the White House.  
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton, who served as Secretary of State in Obama’ first term, has struggled to articulate how she would deal with the threats. Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush said in an interview on “Meet the Press” that the United States “should declare war and harness all of the power the U.S. can bring to bear.”
Rhodes emphasized that they attacks did not change the White House’s reluctance to establish a massive ground force of U.S. troops in the region, saying the administration remains confident it can push back the Islamic State by relying on local forces it is training and advising Iraq and Syria, along with punishing airstrikes.
“The further introduction of U.S. troops to fully reengage in ground combat in the Middle East is not the way to deal with this challenge,” Rhodes said.
In Vienna on Saturday, regional and European leaders, along with the United States and Russia, agreed to press the various factions they back in Syria’s civil war to come together no later than Jan. 1 to begin talks on forming a transitional government.
Once that process starts, participants agreed, they would support a U.N.-monitored ceasefire in fighting between forces of Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, and a wide array of rebel groups variously backed by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others.
The administration has said that settling the ongoing civil war would allow global competitors to focus on defeating the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq.
The Paris attacks, Rhodes said, “can serve to create a greater sense of urgency in the international community behind supporting various element of the counter-ISIL campaign and support for a diplomatic resolution of the Syrian conflict.” 
Obama also met with Putin on the sidelines of the summit. White House officials said they spoke for 35 minutes, and that the discussion “centered around ongoing efforts to resolve the conflict in Syria, an imperative made all the more urgent by the horrifying terrorist attacks in Paris,” and the “diplomatic progress” achieved in the Vienna. While the United States has insisted that Assad must relinquish power, Russia, Assad’s main backer, has bombed rebel forces in a bid to help him remain in control.
Obama and Putin were joined in their meeting, held in the lounge area of a hotel conference center, by U.S. National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice and a man who appeared to be an interpreter. A closed-circuit video feed showed them sitting around a coffee table, with Obama leaning forward in his chair and talking intently with Putin, who was also leaning in, as other world leaders milled about.
The president also met here with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.
In Brussels, NATO dropped the flags of its 28 member nations to half staff to honor the French dead. NATO officials said that France so far has declined to invoke the alliance’s Article 5, which would oblige all members to join its fight against the militants..
The only time Article 5 has ever been invoked was, at U.S. request, after the September 2001 al-Qaeda attacks.
“We support the French authorities in their determination to deal with the terrorist threat,” a NATO official said Sunday, “and a number of allies are already working with France on their ongoing operations and investigations in the wake of the attacks.”
Loveday Morris contributed to this article from Iraq and Hugh Naylor contributed from Beirut.
By David Nakamura who covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.

October 12, 2015

France Backs Down While the Pope Shoots-down Appointment of Gay Ambassador to Vatican



                                                                         


Francois Hollande has reportedly abandoned his bid to appoint one of his senior officials as Vatican ambassador after opposition from the Holy See because the candidate is gay.
The claim comes a week after the Vatican fired a senior priest who came out as homosexual.
The Elysée declined to comment but Libération newspaper quoted official sources as saying the French president had finally given up after months of trying to appoint Laurent Stefanini, a senior diplomat who is currently Mr Hollande's chief of protocol.
“It’s dead,” a source close to the affair told the daily.
Mr Stefanini, who also has the backing of Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, the archbishop of Paris, was nominated as France’s envoy in January but the Vatican did not accept his credentials.
                                                                                  
 Pres.Hollande on left and Laurent Stefanini, currently the president’s chief of protocol, was rejected by the Vatican because he is gay.

Normally a new ambassador’s credentials are accepted within a month and a half. The Vatican does not usually explicitly refuse an envoy’s credentials, but a prolonged official silence after a nomination is interpreted as a rejection.
Mr Stefanini is widely respected by many in the Catholic Church, following his previous stint as number two in the French embassy at the Vatican from 2001 to 2005.
Libération said the French government will likely not seek to put forward another candidate for the job at the Vatican before the next French presidential election in 2017.
Pope Francis has taken a far less judgmental position on homosexuality than his predecessor Benedict XVI.




Pope Francis
But that did not stop him criticising the current French socialist government passing a law in 2013 legalising gay marriage and adoption rights for gay couples, leading to mass protests from among the country's Catholics.
The Vatican was embarrassed last weekend by a senior Vatican official’s decision to come out publicly as gay, just as 270 bishops from around the world gathered in Rome to attend a synod on family issues. The priest was sacked
The row over the Vatican's attitude towards gay priests was stoked further by a claim this week that priests with “homosexual tendencies” are packed off to a religious retreat in order to be “cured”.
In its official doctrine, the Catholic Church insists that homosexuality is an  ntrinsic disorder", with conservatives continuing to maintain that it is a conscious choice, rather than something that people are born as.

Rory Mulholland, Paris

April 30, 2015

France Admits Investigation on Their Peacekeepers Sexually Abusing Children in Africa





A boy plays among the ruins of a mosque in BanguiPHOTO: The UN report includes interviews with children who claimed they were sexually abused by French troops in return for money and food. (Reuters: Siegfried Modola)
RELATED STORY: UN to send peacekeepers to Africa amid genocide fears
RELATED STORY: President flees as Central African rebels seize capital
The French government says it is investigating claims that its peacekeepers sexually abused children in the Central African Republic.
It said the abuse was alleged by around 10 children and reportedly took place at a centre for internally displaced people near the airport of the capital Bangui between December 2013 and June 2014. 
A report in Britain's The Guardian newspaper said children as young as nine were involved, and that some were abused while searching desperately for food or money.
The regular sex abuse by peacekeeping personnel uncovered here and the United Nations' appalling disregard for victims are stomach-turning.
AIDS-Free World co-director Paula Donovan
France's defence ministry said prosecutors had "immediately" opened a case into the abuse after receiving the news last year, and that police investigators had travelled to the Central African Republic on August 1 to look into the case.
"The defence ministry has taken and will take the necessary measures to allow the truth to be found," it said in a statement.
"If the facts are proven, the strongest penalties will be imposed on those responsible for what would be an intolerable attack on soldiers' values."
France sent troops to the Central African Republic in December 2013 as the country became engulfed in violence following a coup in March that toppled longtime leader Francois Bozize.
UN spokesman Farhan Haq confirmed that its rights investigators had conducted a probe last year following "serious allegations" of child abuse and sexual exploitation by French troops.

Aid worker suspended for leaking UN report

The internal report was commissioned by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and passed on The Guardian via advocacy group Aids-Free World. 
"The regular sex abuse by peacekeeping personnel uncovered here and the United Nations' appalling disregard for victims are stomach-turning, but the awful truth is that this isn't uncommon," Paula Donovan, co-director of Aids-Free World, told The Guardian.
"The UN's instinctive response to sexual violence in its ranks — ignore, deny, cover up, dissemble — must be subjected to a truly independent commission of inquiry with total access."
The UN aid worker, Swedish national Anders Kompass, is based in Geneva and leaked the report to French authorities because his bosses had failed to take action, The Guardian reported. 
He has been suspended and faces dismissal for breaching protocol, the paper said.
Mr Kompass is said to have passed on the confidential document before it was presented to senior OHCHR officials.
"This constitutes a serious breach of protocol, which, as is well known to all OHCHR officials, requires redaction of any information that could endanger victims, witnesses and investigators," UN spokesman Farhan Haq.
Since December 2013, violence has displaced nearly 900,000 people in the Central African Republic, including more than 460,000 who have become refugees — 10 per cent of the population.
AFP

January 13, 2015

Defiant Charlie will go on the Cover with Muhammad //PEGIDA in Germany Mobilizes 25k



 
French police patrol near the Louvre museum. Photo: 12 January 2015 
This week's edition of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo will show a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad holding a "Je suis Charlie" sign.
Above the cartoon are the words "All is forgiven". This comes after Islamist gunmen last week raided the magazine's Paris office, killing 12 people.
Meanwhile, French MPs will gather for the first time since the attack.
In Israel, the funerals will be held of four Jewish victims of a separate Paris shooting by an Islamist gunman.
A total of 17 people were killed in three days of terror attacks in the French capital last week.
About 10,000 troops are being deployed across France after the attacks, and a huge unity rally was held in Paris on Sunday.
'Not giving in'
The latest cover of Charlie Hebdo has been published in advance by French media.
People hold signs reading "Je suis Charlie" during a unity rally in Paris. Photo: 11 January 2015 On Sunday, about 1.5 million people rallied in Paris in a show of solidarity with the victims
Members of the Zaka emergency response team pray beside the coffins of four victims of an attack at a kosher supermarket on Friday, before their transport from Paris to Israel for burial, 12 January 2015The four men killed in Friday's supermarket attack will be buried in Jerusalem
The slogan in French "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie") was widely used following the 7 January attack on the magazine, as people sought to show their support.
Three million copies of Wednesday's edition are being printed. Normally only 60,000 are sold each week.
Charlie Hebdo's lawyer Richard Malka told France Info radio: "We will not give in. The spirit of 'I am Charlie' means the right to blaspheme."
Survivors of the massacre have been working on the magazine from the offices of the French daily newspaper Liberation.
Five of Charlie Hebdo's cartoonists - including the editor - were killed in the attack.
The new edition will be created "only by people from Charlie Hebdo", its financial director, Eric Portheault, told AFP news agency.
Contributions from other cartoonists were declined.
New footage
The violence began after brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi attacked the magazine's office. Witnesses said they shouted "we have avenged the Prophet Muhammad" after the shootings.
The brothers were later killed by French security services after a stand-off north of Paris.
Separately, Amedy Coulibaly - whom investigators have linked to the brothers - had killed four people at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris on Friday before police stormed the building. 
Coulibaly is also believed to have shot dead a policewoman the day before.
His partner Hayat Boumeddiene is now believed to be in Syria. She has been identified as a suspect by French police, although she left France before the attacks.
Newly-released CCTV footage appears to show her arriving at an Istanbul airport in Turkey on 2 January.
The four Jewish victims of the supermarket attack will be buried at the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem later on Tuesday.
The victims' relatives will recite a traditional prayer and read eulogies. 
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will also speak at the funerals - a measure of the connection Israel feels with events in Paris, the BBC's Kevin Connolly in Jerusalem reports.
Their challenge is to find words to address the sense in Israel that the dead were victims of a mood of anti-semitism as well as an act of Islamist extremism, our correspondent adds.
line
Boumeddiene's route
2 Jan: Flew from Madrid to Istanbul, accompanied by French citizen Mehdi Sabry Belhoucine. The pair attracted the suspicions of Turkish authorities, who put them under surveillance. They stayed at a hotel in the city for two days, where Boumeddiene is reported to have bought a mobile phone and SIM card
4 Jan: Domestic flight to Sanliurfa near Syrian border. She is reported to have made a number of calls to France from Turkey. The pair did not use their return tickets to Madrid, dated 9 January
8 Jan: Crossed into Syria. On the same day, her partner Amedy Coulibaly shoots dead a policewoman, using Boumeddiene's car in the attack. The French authorities announce they are looking for her
10 Jan: Last recorded phone call, reportedly from the Syrian town of Tel Abyad - not far from the border
A record 25,000 people have joined an anti-Islamisation rally in Dresden, Germany, called in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
The protesters defied calls from German politicians to stay away from the Pegida organisation's rally.
Elsewhere across Germany, tens of thousands of people joined anti-Pegida rallies.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she will attend a protest organised by Muslim groups in Berlin on Tuesday.
Justice Minister Heiko Maas was one of several leading politicians to urge the Pegida march organisers in Dresden not to "misuse" the deadly attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket. 
However, the rally in the eastern city went ahead, drawing a record 25,000.
Marchers carried banners expressing solidarity with the French cartoonists, killed by Islamists in Paris.
A minute's silence in memory of the dead was also expected to be held.
A protestor holds a poster showing German Chancellor Angela Merkel wearing a head scarf in front of the Reichtstags building with a crescent on top and the writing "Mrs Merkel here is the people" during a rally of the group Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West, or PEGIDA, in Dresden, Germany, Monday, Jan. 12, 2015.Some 25,000 attended the Pegida demonstration in Dresden
DRESDEN, GERMANY - JANUARY 12: Supporters of the Pegida movement march to show their solidarity with the victims of the recent Paris terror attacks during their weekly march on January 12, 2015 in Dresden, GermanyThe anti-Islamisation group has organised several Dresden marches in recent weeks
Pegida - Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West - has organised a number of Dresden rallies, and drew 18,000 a week ago.
The anti-Pegida rallies on Monday drew 7,000 in Dresden, 30,000 in Leipzig, 20,000 in Munich and 19,000 in Hanover.
People gather to take part in a protest against anti-immigration movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA) at the Jewish synagogue in DresdenAnti-Pegida protesters outside a synagogue in Dresden on Monday
line
At the scene: BBC's Jenny Hill in Dresden
They marched in silence - at first at least. Normally Pegida's demonstrations in Dresden are rowdy affairs but this, organisers emphasised, was a "Trauermarsch" (a mourning march) dedicated to the victims of the Paris shootings. 
Pegida's been accused of trying to capitalise on the terror attacks, and Angela Merkel warned Germans not to support them.
But tonight thousands of people ignored her, some wearing black ribbons as they marched. 
Pegida officials expressed their sorrow at what happened in France. But they also took the opportunity to unveil a streamlined manifesto. A response, perhaps, to critics who point to a lack of cohesion, a difference of ideology among their supporters. 
Take Karl, a pensioner who clapped me on the shoulder and smiled amiably as he pointed up at his banner: "Asylum seekers go home!"
Compare him to a man standing close by who wants Germany to stop weapons exports. Or the woman who fears that the country cannot cope with the current rate of immigration. But something unites these people - and that's a growing dissatisfaction with - and even a distrust of - the political establishment.
line
In a series of interviews, Mr Maas accused the anti-Islamist group of hypocrisy.
"In Dresden people want to remember with a black ribbon the victims in Paris - those same people whom a week ago they were calling the 'lying press'," he said.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere also criticised the organisers while Bavarian leader Horst Seehofer called on them to stop the marches for the foreseeable future.
The chancellor, who was meeting Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday, was set to take part in a demonstration against the French murders in Berlin planned by Muslim groups on Tuesday, her spokesman said.
"Islam is part of Germany," said Mrs Merkel on Monday. "I am the chancellor of all Germans."
Hamburger Morgenpost damaged by incendiary device (11 Jan 2015)Files were damaged in a weekend arson attack on the Hamburger Morgenpost 
The growth of the anti-Islamisation marches over recent weeks has worried Germany's political leadership. 
Tensions were further raised at the weekend when arsonists attacked a Hamburg newspaper that republished controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad which had originally been printed by Charlie Hebdo in 2006.
The men who attacked Charlie Hebdo last week were said to have shouted out that they had avenged the Prophet for the cartoons.
line
What is Pegida?
  • Founded in Dresden by activist Lutz Bachmann in October 2014
  • Acronym for Patriotische Europaer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West)
  • Umbrella group for German right wing, attracting support from mainstream conservatives to neo-Nazi factions and football hooligans
  • Holds street protests against what it sees as a dangerous rise in the influence of Islam over European countries
  • Claims not to be racist or xenophobic
  • 19-point manifesto says the movement opposes extremism and calls for protection of Germany's Judeo-Christian culture

January 9, 2015

Evidence points to Al Qaeda Training the Paris Suspects {French Police in Search}


 Members of the French police special forces on a search for two terrorism suspects in Corcy, in northern France, on Thursday. CreditFrancois Lo Presti/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

  One of the two brothers suspected of killing 12 people at a satirical newspaper in Paris traveled to Yemen in 2011 and received terrorist training from Al Qaeda’s affiliate there before returning to France, a senior American official said on Thursday.
The suspect, Saïd Kouachi, 34, spent “a few months” training in small arms combat, marksmanship and other skills that appeared to be on display in videos of the military-style attack on Wednesday carried out by at least two gunmen on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo newspaper. 
Both French and American officials were aware that Mr. Kouachi trained in Yemen. He went there at a time when many other young Muslim men in the West headed to Yemen, inspired by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric who by 2011 had become a senior operational figure for the terrorist group there, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Before he was killed in an American drone strike in September 2011, Mr. Awlaki repeatedly called for the killing of cartoonists who insulted the Prophet Muhammad.


Photo

Said Kouachi, left, 34, and his brother, Cherif Kouachi, 32, who are suspected in a deadly attack on a satirical newspaper in Paris. CreditFrench Police 

Mr. Kouachi as well as his younger brother Chérif, 32, have been under scrutiny for years by officials in France and the United States, and according to an American intelligence official both were in the American database of known or suspected terrorists and on the no-fly lists maintained by the government.
Chérif Kouachi first came to the attention of the French authorities as a possible terrorist a decade ago, when he was in his early 20s. He was arrested in France in 2005 as he prepared to leave for Syria, the first leg of a trip he hoped would take him to Iraq, and convicted three years later. He was released in 2008 for time served.
American intelligence and counterterrorism officials on Thursday were still trying to determine whether the Qaeda affiliate in Yemen had explicitly ordered Wednesday’s attack. There was no indication that the masked men who carried it out were acting under orders from the group or were part of a larger militant cell in France. But as they launched their attack at Charlie Hebdo, according to witnesses, the pair proudly declared allegiance to the group.
“Tell the media that it is Al Qaeda in Yemen,” the men shouted, referring to a terrorist outfit also known as Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula.
The Yemen branch of Al Qaeda had already declared its own interest in targeting the newspaper. A 2013 edition of the group’s English-language propaganda magazine, Inspire, placed Charlie Hebdo’s editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, on a hit list along with other prominent journalists, writers and public figures. “Wanted dead or alive for crimes against Islam,” the jihadist magazine stated.


Photo

French police officers patrolling in Longpont, north of Paris, on Thursday. Scattered gunfire and explosions shook France on a day of mourning for 12 people slain.CreditThibault Camus/Associated Press 

While familiar to the French authorities, the two Kouachi brothers appear to have lived low-key lifestyles in Paris. Orphaned as children after the deaths of their parents, immigrants from Algeria, Chérif and Saïd were raised in foster care in Rennes, in western France. Chérif trained as a fitness instructor before moving to Paris, where he lived with his brother in the home of a convert to Islam.
And he was so well known for his extremist links that he appeared in a 2005 documentary shown on France 3, a state television channel, about France’s jihadist underworld. He was presented as an ordinary immigrant youngster who enjoyed rap music and clubbing before tumbling into a subterranean world of fanatical faith and calls for vengeance against United States troops in Iraq and other forces perceived as enemies of Islam.
After his arrest that year, Chérif Kouchi was held in a detention center at Fleury-Mérogis, a southern suburb of Paris, and got to know Djamel Beghal, a champion of jihad who was jailed in 2001 for a planned attack on the American Embassy in Paris.
After his release, Chérif got a steady girlfriend and found a job selling fish at a Leclerc supermarket, and had seemingly put his past behind him. But, according to Le Monde newspaper, he quietly renewed contacts with his old jihadist comrades and again popped onto the radar of intelligence officers in connection with a plot to free a jailed Islamist militant serving a life sentence for a 1995 attack on a rail station at the Musée d’Orsay.


Continue reading the main storyVideo


PLAY VIDEO|2:10

Paris Terror Suspect Shown in 2005 Film

Paris Terror Suspect Shown in 2005 Film


Chérif Kouachi, one of the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris, appeared in a 2005 investigative documentary about jihadism that aired on French television.
 Video by France3, via INA on Publish Date January 8, 2015. Photo by Pièces à Conviction, France3.

Prosecutors, worried about making charges stick, decided in the end not to prosecute. Their written ruling, according to Le Monde, stated that Mr. Kouachi would not face charges “despite his proven roots in radical Islam and his demonstrated interest in theses defending the legitimacy of armed jihad.”
Fresh out of prison and already deeply involved in France’s violent Islamist underground, Chérif Kouachi worked hard to present an unthreatening face to the world when he got a job in August 2009 at the fish counter in a suburban supermarket northwest of Paris.
The manager of the Leclerc store in Conflans Sainte Honorine, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she wanted to avoid attracting unwelcome attention, said Mr. Chérif made an excellent fishmonger. He was even-tempered, conscientious and never distracted by idle chitchat with colleagues, his former boss said, adding that the only thing he ever talked about was the price of fish.
Another foreign associate of Chérif Kouachi and his brother is believed to be the Tunisian-French jihadist Boubaker Hakim, a member of the Islamic State who has been actively recruiting and building a network of fighters across Northern Africa and in European immigrant communities since 2011.
Mr. Hakim helped found a network of young jihadists based in the 19th Arrondisement of Paris that Chérif Kouachi fell in with a decade ago. It mixed classes on jihad, led by a 26-year old janitor-turned-preacher, with physical training sessions in Buttes-Chaumon, a public park on a hill in northeastern Paris, and the recruitment of local young Muslims to fight in Iraq.


Continue reading the main story

Graphic: Tracking the Manhunt for the Charlie Hebdo Killers 


The radical mosque where they gathered, near the Stalingrad subway station, was torn down eight years ago and is now a building site. The manager of a nearby Islamic book shop, the House of Light, like many other local residents, declined to discuss the Kouachi brothers, who lived in the heavily immigrant area before Chérif’s 2005 arrest in connection with the group’s recruitment of fighters for Iraq.
Mr. Hakim, who also spent time in the grimy neighborhood, is now wanted for the assassination of the Tunisian left-wing politician Mohamed Brahmi, killed in Tunis in 2013. He is thought to be in Iraq or Syria and appeared in a video produced by the Islamic State in December with two other Tunisian fighters exhorting North Africans to join the Islamic State and conduct more assassinations at home.
Mathieu Guidére, a French expert on terrorism, described the brothers as representative of a common and powerful phenomenon — the emotional appeal of global jihad, particularly after the battlefield successes in Iraq and Syria last year of the Islamic State, to segments of Europe’s young Muslim population.
“The profile of the brothers is simple: They’re typical French terrorists, well trained and determined, connected to Al Qaeda network,” Mr. Guidére said. “They haven’t been motivated by personal grievance against the French intelligence and security service. They have had contacts with the Islamic State via Internet, but they’ve never been there.”
With more than five million Muslims, Europe’s largest Muslim population, France has struggled for years to keep track of genuine extremists while avoiding measures that would only alienate ordinary Muslims and increase the risk of a violent response.
Jonathan Laurence, the author of “The Emancipation of Europe’s Muslims,” said in a telephone interview that intelligence services in European countries had so many residents with jihadi sympathies that it was very hard to monitor them all so as to separate those who merely offer verbal support for groups claiming to fight for Islam from those who are prepared to take up arms or plant bombs.
“Mass surveillance of an entire community is not an option because civil liberties also need to be balanced with the potential benefit it will gain,” Mr. Laurence said.


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