Joué-lès-Tours, Nantes, Dijon: surge in terrorist threats

Three violent acts in three days have heightened fear surrounding terror attacks in France. There does not appear to be any connection between the three attacks. On December 20 in Joué-lès-Tours a man carrying ISIL’s flag assaulted several police officers in a police station before being apprehended. The following day, a motorist drove through pedestrians and called out “Allah Akbar” in Dijon, causing injuries. On Monday, December 22 another motorist drove through a Christmas market in Nantes, causing one death and nine injuries before critically injuring himself.

Members of government gathered on December 23 in order to discuss measures against terrorist threats. “We must mobilize all security and legal services,” declared prime minster Manuel Valls after the meeting. “We must protect the public, the French. With only a few hours until Christmas, it’s the security services’ mission and we must also protect public agents who are targets of certain terrorist acts.”

According to criminal psychologist Roland Coutanceau, the first attack can be categorized as an act of terrorism because “there is an extremist belief that we can decode in the man’s life.” However, he stated that the second attack in Dijon was committed by a mentally ill person with a history of hospitalizations in psychiatric wards and therefore cannot be definitely described as an act of terror. Coutanceau argues that in the final attack “we see that there’s a criminological logic present in what one calls mass murder but does not necessarily connote a terrorist logic. It could be, but it’s not necessarily the case.”