Thursday, January 08, 2015

France and the New Charismatic Jihad

Worries about autonomous jihadist cells appear to have been realized in Paris.

By Reuel Marc Gerecht, WSJ
Jan. 7, 2015 7:00 p.m.

The terrorist attack in Paris on Wednesday—with 12 people killed by masked men yelling Islamist slogans—has been a long time coming.

After the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., Western counterterrorist experts probably feared European radical Muslims more than they did Islamic militants in the Middle East. Since the early 1990s, when Algeria’s savage war between the military junta and Islamists began to spill over into France, the French internal-security service, now known as the Direction central du renseignement intérieur, or DCRI, began to ramp up its capacity to monitor Muslim militants.

On Nov. 27, 2001, France’s premier counterterrorist magistrate, Jean-Louis Bruguière, was pessimistic about “autonomous” jihadist cells in Europe and North America that “don’t need to receive orders to pass into action.” The Iraq War added to this widespread anxiety. Many believed that the Anglo-American invasion would provoke a maelstrom of holy warriors against the West.

It didn’t happen then. But it may be happening now.

The lethal attack in Paris on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo —which has made a specialty of mocking both sides of the too-much-Islam-in-Europe debate, and in 2012 famously published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad —probably isn’t a lone-wolf affair. But it may represent what Mr. Bruguière feared: native jihadist cells that can act independently of foreign terrorist organizations, like al Qaeda or Islamic State, but may act in concert, and certainly in sympathy, with these groups.

(More here.)

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