French Secretary of State, Manuel Valls, has warned of the dangers of Islamic radicalisation in France. In an interview published by Le Parisien, Valls voices his concern about the state of Islamic radicalism in the country and estimates that there are dozens of more new Merahs in the country who need to be fought against.
According to him, France is fighting an “exterior enemy” in Mali whilst simultaneously fighting on a battlefront against the “enemy from within”, Muslim radicals, in France itself. As a result of France’s battle against fundamentalists, the government has dismantled a number of radical groups in the country and threatened with the deportation of radical preachers.
He calls on “French Islam” to ally itself with French imams educated in the country’s universities “who speak French and preach in French”. He however also speaks of the financial situations of mosques and raises the question of looking into who is behind the funding of mosques, whether its “friendly states or not”.
15 January 2013
Twenty individuals, identified as radical Islamists, have disappeared from their homes in the Spain, Ceuta and Melilla and they are believed to have traveled through Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania to Mali to join”jihadists” factions who have occupied the North African country and are now the subject of a military operation by the French Army.
Young “Polisario” members and other radicals who have traveled to Mali in recent weeks, are tempted by AQIM Salafists and other two formations found in the area, the MUYAO (Movement for Unity and Jihad North Africa) and Ansar el Dine (Followers of the Faith) to join the cause of jihad (struggle) and to incorporate the north camps of that country. The total number of Islamist terrorists is about 5,000.
13 January 2013
Around 60 Salafi Muslims gathered in front of the French Embassy in London to protest against French interventions in Mali. The protestors held placards reading “Ban Ki-moon Terrorist” and “French army, you will pay, the Muslims are on their way” during the demonstration on Saturday.
A speaker expressed his anger by saying that “We got rid of some of our dictators– Ben Ali, Mubarak, and al-Qadhafi. But now it’s time for the dictators in Mali, in Pakistan, in Bangladesh, and all over Muslim lands to be removed and replaced by the shariah, by Islam,”
19 December 2012
The potential threatening impact of jihadist activity on the Netherlands remains “limited and indirect”, according to the National Terrorist Threat Assessment provided to the country’s House of Representatives. The main source of terrorist threat faced by the country remains jihad, with the report mentioning conditions in Syria, Egypt and Mali as potential sites of international concern. The Assessment also addresses the possibility of threat within Europe and the Netherlands, noting that the “social assertiveness of the Dutch people – including Dutch Muslim communities – against extremism is as strong as ever.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has confirmed the death of a French hostage killed by suspected al-Qaeda militants in north-west Africa. Sarkozy condemned the killing of 78-year-old Michel Germaneau as “odious”, saying it would not go unpunished. The leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) had earlier said Mr Germaneau was killed in revenge for a failed rescue raid in Mali.
Mr Germaneau was kidnapped in Niger in April. A retired engineer, he was in the region as a volunteer aid worker. AQIM leader Abdelmalek Droukdel said in a statement broadcast by al-Jazeera that Mr Germaneau had been killed in revenge for a raid in which six militants died.
al-Qaeda’s North African wing has threatened to kill a British tourist taken hostage in the Sahara unless the radical cleric and terrorism suspect Abu Qatada is released within 20 days. The kidnapped man was among four European tourists seized in January after their convoy was ambushed near the border of Niger and Mali, where they had been after attending a Tuareg festival.
Abu Qatada, once described by a Spanish judge as “Osama bin Laden’s righthand man in Europe”, is being held in Britain pending deportation to his native Jordan, where in 1999 he was convicted in his absence of conspiracy to cause explosions and sentenced to life imprisonment. The charges related to bombings at the American school and the Jerusalem hotel in Jordan. He was convicted a second time in 2000 over a plot to bomb tourists. Abu Qatada is one of the highest profile terror suspects held in Britain today, and when Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, signed his deportation order on 18 February she said: “I am keen to deport this dangerous individual as soon as I can.”
“We demand that Britain release Sheikh Abu Qatada, who is unjustly [held], for the release of its British citizen. We give it 20 days as of the issuance of this statement,” the group al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said in a posting on an Islamist website yesterday. “When this period expires, the Mujahideen will kill the British hostage.”
The issue highlights the difficulty how to deal with dangerous Islamist prisoners and with al-Qaeda threats from outside Europe, while maintaining security in the UK and without endangering any hostages.
Freed Canadian diplomats Robert Fowler and Louis Guay left Mali yesterday aboard a Canadian government plane bound for Germany this weekend to be reunited with their families. The two men were freed by their al-Qaeda-linked captors after four months of captivity.
Two Europeans separately captured by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) were simultaneously let go. Reports from Algeria suggest that an unnamed European government paid AQIM factions a multimillion-dollar ransom. While this transaction has not been officially confirmed, countries such as Germany and Austria have been reported to have made similar payments in parallel cases.
Before the release, the Canadian government had been mounting a massive diplomatic effort and rescue operation in West Africa. Officials in Ottawa said Canada paid no ransom.
Top Sevilla player Frederic Kanoute has admitted that he has suffered racial and religious insults from other players in the Spanish league because of his skin color and religion. Kanoute, who is from Mali and Muslim, commented in an interview with the ‘Don Balon’ magazine saying that people should not generalize Muslims. Kanoute said that he never felt that religion or skin color was an issue during his time playing for the UK, but they have become a subject of frequent insult in Sevilla.
According to France’s Minister of the Interior, there are currently 5 million Muslims living in its border, approximately 5% of which are regular practitioners. In their new book on French Muslims (Les Musulmans en France, _dition Robert Laffont), Bernard Godard and Sylvie Taussig estimate that more that 1.5 million are Algerian or of Algerian-origin. The remainder include 1 million Moroccans; 400,000 Tunisians; 340,000 Sub-Saharan Africans (mostly from Senegal and Mali), 313,000 Turks; 70,000 Asians; and an estimated 40,000 converts and Muslims without papers. 43% of Muslims in France, according to their book, are non-practicing. There are currently 1,890 known mosques in France.
A son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is mediating in the case of two Austrians held by al Qaeda in north Africa and believes a release could come within hours, an Austrian politician said on Saturday. Saif al-Islam, who heads the Gaddafi Foundation charity, was in touch with the kidnappers in Mali, a spokesman for Carinthia governor Joerg Haider told Reuters. “Our information from Libya is that the negotiations in Mali have reached a decisive phase and … in the next few hours there could be a decision in this matter … a release,” the spokesman quoted Haider as saying. But he said it could take longer. “It could be tomorrow or the next day,” he said. The mediation of Gaddafi’s son, who has studied in Austria and is a friend of right-wing populist Haider, raised some hopes for the release of the two Austrian tourists who were seized in Tunisia last month and are reported to be held in northern Mali. Austrian foreign ministry spokesman Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal said a meeting of the crisis team dealing with the hostages on Saturday evening had not been informed of any imminent release. “The crisis team has had no indication of that kind of dramatic development,” he told Reuters. Tiemoko Diallo repots.