Wednesday, March 17, 2004

"This Means Peace in Our Time!"

Hmm. Despite Chirac's noisy opposition to the war in Iraq, it looks like France still hasn't managed to avoid the attentions of Islamic militants. Wasn't it supposed to be only the lickspittles and running-dogs of the American Imperialist Infidels who were exposing themselves to danger?

PARIS (Reuters) - France has received threats of a possible attack against French interests from an Islamist group apparently named after a Chechen guerrilla killed in a Moscow hostage-taking in 2002, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday.

The letter, sent to several newspapers, threatened "to plunge France into terror and remorse and spill blood outside its frontiers," Jacques Esperandieu, deputy editor of the daily Le Parisien which received a copy, quoted it as saying.

The ministry confirmed earlier Justice Ministry reports that the threat, which it said was sent "on behalf of the servants of Allah, the powerful and wise," mentioned possible attacks in France and against French interests abroad.


The group called itself the Movsar Barayev Commando, an apparent reference to the militant who organized the October 2002 Chechen raid at a Moscow theater that ended with 129 dead. He died in the special forces raid on the theater.


France's firm stand against the Iraq war was originally thought to have won it support in the Muslim world, but this evaporated when Paris banned Muslims from wearing headscarves in schools. Summarizing the letter, Esperandieu said: "They're basically saying 'you thought you were safe because of your stand on Iraq, but France is no longer safe at all since February 10."

The National Assembly passed the veil ban on Feb. 10.


Security experts say France is also a target because of its cooperation with authorities fighting Islamic militants in its former North African colonies Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.

Several members of hard-line Algerian Islamic groups are currently being held in French jails.

Wednesday, France will put on trial David Courtailler, a Frenchman converted to Islam, for links to Muslim extremists. He is said to have met a prime suspect in the Madrid bombings, Jamal Zougam, during a visit to a mosque in the Spanish capital.

The ban on Muslim headscarves in state schools, a step Paris took to stem what it saw as growing Islamist influence among young Muslims, provoked a verbal attack from Ayman al-Zawahri, No. 2 in Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

"This is a new sign of the Crusader hatred which Westerners harbor against Muslims while they boast of freedom, democracy and human rights," he said in a tape broadcast by the Arabic television channel Al Arabiya on February 24.

I've always thought the proposed ban on the veil to be ham-fisted and intolerant, but I must stay that as reasons for Islamist ire go, this is a pretty weak one. Oh well, one never can tell with these guys. I guess the French will just have to fold immediately on that point, and hurry up and drop all co-operation with Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco while they're at it. Those steadfast* Islamic gentlemen languishing in French prisons should also be released post-haste, and be given ample restitution for their unjust imprisonment - all this terrorist stuff is just a quarrel between the overexcitable Americans and al-Qaeda after all, and the French had no business sticking their noses in it.

*How dare you call them "hard line" or "extremists", simply for being differently emphatic in their beliefs! This unenlightened and oppressive milque-toastism parading as "moderation" simply isn't acceptable!