How Not to Combat Jihadism: Scenes from a French Courtroom

Nov. 15 2017

French judges, after a five-week trial, recently sentenced Abdelkader Merah to twenty years in prison for “criminal terrorist conspiracy.” The crimes in question were committed by Abdelkader’s brother Mohammed who, over the course of three separate incidents in 2012, murdered three French paratroopers as well as a rabbi and three Jewish schoolchildren. Reporting on the trial, Marc Weitzmann exposes the failures of the French authorities, who were able to connect the dots between the shootings of the paratroopers but ignored evidence that could have led them to Merah. “Because the victims were of Maghrébin [i.e., North African] origin,” Weitzmann explains, the central authorities “ordered [local police] to investigate neo-fascists instead.” After Mohammed Merah was killed by police, the director of French domestic intelligence publicly insisted that he was a “lone wolf,” ignoring the copious evidence of his connection to an Islamist terrorist network.

In a second article, Weitzmann delves into the dysfunction of the Merah family, where beatings, neglect, bigotry against Jews and “the French,” and Islamism were all common. He then turns to the families of the victims—two of whom were Muslims proudly serving in their country’s armed forces—and their “loneliness”:

As [the paratroopers’ family members] testified, it became clear . . . that they were utterly alone, alienated from the bizarre and murderous radicalism of their son’s killer, a radicalism that sprang from the communities to which they were said to belong by birth or faith, yet rejected by the official agents of French society as a whole in whose name their sons had fought and then been murdered. . . .

All of them—all of them—mentioned the same racist attitude from the cops who broke the news of the killings by addressing them first as suspects, due to their Arab names and their looks.

The other reason for that loneliness, and not the least, was the lack of Muslim support. Not one representative of the Muslim organizations in France came in solidarity to console the Muslim families of the Muslim victims. Not one attended the trial or made the slightest public gesture or utterance on their behalf.

The contrast with the Jewish families couldn’t have been more striking. The former head of the official Jewish community of Toulouse, Nicole Yardeni, made the trip with a whole delegation to hear Samuel Sandler, who lost his son and two grandsons in the massacre, [testify]. She came with Jonathan Chetrit, . . . who successfully improvised the sheltering and protection of the children in the Ozar Hatorah school during the shooting, and Sharon Benitah, now fifteen, who witnessed the death of her friend Myriam Monsonego. . . .

No, the Jews, who are so lonely today in French society, were not alone in the courtroom. But the Muslim families—these Muslims so much at the center of the national public debate today—were. No imam showed up in the courtroom. None of the left-wingers who are so eager to stand against “Islamophobia” and to point to the evils of racism and social discrimination wrote a single word of support to the Ibn Ziaten and Lagouen families.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, European Islam, France, French Jewry, Jihadism, Mohamed Merah, Politics & Current Affairs

Syria’s Downing of a Russian Plane Put Israel in the Crosshairs

Sept. 21 2018

On Monday, Israeli jets fired missiles at an Iranian munitions storehouse in the northwestern Syrian city of Latakia. Shortly thereafter, Syrian personnel shot down a Russian surveillance plane with surface-to-air missiles, in what seems to be a botched and highly incompetent response to the Israeli attack. Moscow first responded by blaming Jerusalem for the incident, but President Putin then offered more conciliatory statements. Yesterday, Russian diplomats again stated that Israel was at fault. Yoav Limor comments:

What was unusual [about the Israeli] strike was the location: Latakia [is] close to Russian forces, in an area where the IDF hasn’t been active for some time. The strike itself was routine; the IDF notified the Russian military about it in advance, the missiles were fired remotely, the Israeli F-16s returned to base unharmed, and as usual, Syrian antiaircraft missiles were fired indiscriminately in every direction, long after the strike itself was over. . . .

Theoretically, this is a matter between Russia and Syria. Russia supplied Syria with the SA-5 [missile] batteries that wound up shooting down its plane, and now it must demand explanations from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. That won’t happen; Russia was quick to blame Israel for knocking over the first domino, and as usual, sent conflicting messages that make it hard to parse its future strategy. . . .

From now on, Russia will [almost certainly] demand a higher level of coordination with Israel and limits on the areas in which Israel can attack, and possibly a commitment to refrain from certain actions. Syria, Iran, and Hizballah will try to drag Russia into “handling” Israel and keeping it from continuing to carry out strikes in the region. Israel . . . will blame Iran, Hizballah, and Syria for the incident, and say they are responsible for the mess.

But Israel needs to take rapid action to minimize damage. It is in Israel’s strategic interest to keep up its offensive actions to the north, mainly in Syria. If that action is curtailed, Israel’s national security will be compromised. . . . No one in Israel, and certainly not in the IDF or the Israel Air Force, wants Russia—which until now hasn’t cared much about Israel’s actions—to turn hostile, and Israel needs to do everything to prevent that from happening. Even if that means limiting its actions for the time being. . . . Still, make no mistake: Russia is angry and has to explain its actions to its people. Israel will need to walk a thin line between protecting its own security interests and avoiding a very unwanted clash with Russia.

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More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war