Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Peril Lurking Within France

It's not what you think:

"Paris trial shows faltering evolution of a jihadi cell" by Adam Nossiter New York Times   April 14, 2018

PARIS — Besides having gone to Syria, or having encouraged others to go, according to prosecutors, the five men who stood trial on terrorism charges this week in Paris all had one thing in common: They came from Lunel.

Whitewashed, sunstruck, and Mediterranean, and hit hard by mass unemployment, Lunel, a southern town of about 25,000, earned the dubious distinction of having sent more recruits per capita to Syria than any other at the height of the jihad that washed over France. It became a symbol of the peril France suddenly found lurking within.

That's a Bushism. Terrorists "lurking." 

Thanks, NYT.

Related“I don’t think that campaigning or governing by fear is ever going to work or ever going to be a lasting message. You can only scare people so much. And if we try that, we’re not going to be in power much longer.”

Also see: “We are taught that fear is not a motivating factor, but, you know.....”

I suppose it depends on which agenda needs to be pushed and which side of the mouth they are talking out.

The trial this week became a symbol of a different sort, underscoring how much France is still dealing with the aftermath of that peril, even as the courtroom spectacle offered a murky window on the faltering evolution of a jihadi cell.

And I have got no interest in cleaning up more cover story crap and lies from the pre$$.

Besides, I don't do windows.

By turns defensive, rueful, and apologetic, two of the defendants who testified either covered their tracks spectacularly well or were as they appeared: struggling young men imbued with a deep sense of failure, discrimination, and exclusion.

So which French intelligence officer was handling them?

The trial of the Lunel cell is one of dozens of antiterrorist cases have been prosecuted in France in recent years — some 200 since 2012, according to Sharon Weill, an expert on terrorism trials at Sciences Po in Paris.

The French law under which the Lunel defendants are being prosecuted — “conspiracy of wrongdoers with a terrorist aim” — is “very broad,” Weill said.

To be prosecuted you simply “need to join a group with this terror aim,” Weill said.

“But the plan doesn’t need to be executed,” she said. “The idea was to create a very large net.”

Sacre bleu!

French dragnet becomes thought police!

That prosecutorial energy reflects the public preoccupation with terrorism and the extent to which France still feels itself under threat.

Are they? Do they?

“We are fighting against Salafism, that is to say extremism, religious fundamentalism,” President Emmanuel Macron said in a television interview this week. “I want to be very clear about this: This is a problem in our country.”

Yet, if anything, the trial this week confirmed that it is French society’s marginals, the unemployed and the psychologically unstable, who are particularly prone to sudden bursts of radical Islamization — and not its pious Muslims.

Yup, anybody who is poor and unemployed is now a potential terrorist. 


The continuing debate in France between these two explanations for jihad has not been resolved, but real-life incidents consistently throw up more examples of the former than the latter.

Or you get loads of false flag fakes.

And so it was at this week’s trial.

“The ambience was very much in favor of the Islamic State,” one of the defendants, Hamza Mosli, 29, who lost two younger brothers in Syria, testified.

(Blog editor's chin sinks to chest)

All the men were arrested in January 2015 in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris.

Oooooooh, this is a show trial regarding that garbage!

The investigators had heard one of the defendants, Jawad Salih, 34, telling a friend, “Those guys at Charlie Hebdo, right on.”


Salih, bending his head, spoke fluently and without hesitation, and appeared more like an aging university student than a dangerous radical.

There were repeated references to close psychiatric counseling after his arrest.

That's how they control you, with pills.

“I had started to educate myself about what was going on in Syria,” Salih said. “It all happened progressively.”

Divorced, childless, jobless, “your life was empty, sad,” one of the judges remarked. So why had he not gone to Syria himself?

Salih stood before the judge and began to snuffle quietly. “It was because I am French, so I was torn.”

Oh, I can't take it, bwaaaaaaaa!

His lawyer suggested that “cowardice” also played a role, and Salih acknowledged the word unhesitatingly.

Mosli shared top billing as a fellow instigator, and he spoke of his inability to find a job in Lunel, and a “deep sense” that he was being discriminated against as a Muslim. “I couldn’t find a company that would take me,” he said. His unemployment appeared to play a role in his radicalization since, as he explained, “I had more time” to attend the mosque, steep himself in news from Syria, and disseminate gruesome videos. “I was impregnated with all of that at that time,” said Mosli, tall, well spoken, and careful in his choice of words.

“I feel like I’m missing the train,” the police heard him tell a friend, as he watched siblings and other companions leave for Syria.

Here is some advice for you.

“It was a bit of my role to clarify things,” he acknowledged, for the other jihad-leaning youth in Lunel.

Pleading for leniency, Mosli told the court he had been subjected to “a kind of group effect. It was a certain ambience,” he argued. “And I didn’t have proper judgment.”

Prosecutors and judge were not convinced.

Mosli was sentenced Friday to seven years for having “played a key role in the decisions of some to leave,” Ballerini said.

Salih received a sentence of five years, also for encouraging departures to Syria. Two others who had spent a brief time in Syria received similar sentences, and one was acquitted.


The REAL PERIL lurking within France:

"France’s best budget figures in a decade are no reason for complacency and President Emmanuel Macron knows it. The improvement was partly due to faster economic growth boosting tax receipts, and the government still has spade work to do to cut spending and reduce the debt ratio. Amid growing protests throughout the country, Macron has yet to lay out a road map, though ministers have defended his current policies. Ten months into the job, Macron is facing rising discontent from pensioners, rail workers, and civil servants after pushing through a landmark labor-market reform, squeezing the budget deficit, and slashing taxes for businesses. Improving the books on a structural basis will require more work and won’t be an easy fix....." 

So they lie to you about the economy just like they lie to us, huh?

"French strikes cause railway chaos and challenge Macron" Associated Press  April 04, 2018

PARIS — A major French railway strike brought the country’s famed high-speed trains to a halt Tuesday, leaving passengers stranded or scrambling for other options — and posing the biggest test so far for President Emmanuel Macron’s economic strategy.

There was further disruption in the air, with Air France cancelling a quarter of its flights Tuesday amid a strike over pay. And there were strikes or demonstrations in other sectors. Students are blocking campuses to protest plans to allow selection in state universities, while garbage collectors are striking on strike to protest worsening working conditions.

In Paris, police pushed back and detained some protesting youth after shop windows were smashed on the sidelines of a march by striking train workers.

The French readers will understand when I say agent provocateurs. 

Made to make protesters look bad because the protesters are the people!

It was one of the worst days of industrial strife seen in France since Macron was elected president nearly a year ago. Macron has made reforming France’s economy a central plank of his presidency. Many of his plans, particularly to the labor market, are meeting with increasing opposition, particularly from France’s unions.

Because the world is sick of being bent over for banks. 

Btw, how much did that recent ride along in Syria costs (as well as patrolling North Africa)?

I didn't get off until the end of the line:

Rail workers are protesting plans to eliminate a special status that they’ve enjoyed for decades. The ‘‘cheminot’’ status effectively guarantees jobs for life and other benefits, in keeping with the image of France’s railways as an essential pillar of the country’s infrastructure and its public services.

Macron’s government says that’s no longer tenable, because today’s globalized and increasingly automated economy favors more flexible workforces. In addition, with European Union rules requiring all member states to open up government-run railways to competition, the government argues that the special status puts SNCF at a disadvantage compared to potential private competitors. 

When is the next sabotaged or staged crash? 

That will change the focus and put the onus back on the unions and human behavior.

Maybe they could even throw a couple of terrorist in and get a movie out of it.

The most visible problems on Tuesday were on the railway, where SNCF said 77 percent of train drivers were on strike. The total proportion of rail workers on strike —including employees in trains and on the ground— is 33.9 percent, the company detailed in a statement.

Passengers are ditching railways, hitching rides on traffic-clogged roads and sharing travel tips online. At the Gare de Lyon station in eastern Paris, platforms were so packed that commuters spilled over onto the tracks as they waited for elusive trains.....


"Despite protests, Macron vows to press on, reform France’s economy" by Sylvie Corbet Associated Press  April 12, 2018

PARIS — President Emmanuel Macron declared Thursday that strikes and protests will not prevent him from overhauling France’s economy — comments that came as train workers, hospital staffers, students, retirees, lawyers, and magistrates were challenging his economic vision.

Remember, we were told his newly-created party (backed by banker money) swept to election over Le Pen because turnout was low and the French stayed home.

Macron appeared on the national television network TF1 to respond to the public’s concerns and defend his economic policies and tax changes, which he says are aimed at modernizing the country.

The interview, in a schoolroom in a small village in western France, came hours ahead of a new round of train worker strikes.

Speaking with children’s drawings in the background, Macron said public anger ‘‘doesn’t stop’’ him and vowed to continue with changes designed to prepare France’s national railway, the SNCF, to open up to competition.

‘‘We will continue because the world around us is speeding up, going through great changes, and because our country must be able to choose its destiny and live better,’’ he said.

Yeah, he cares so much for the kids.

Related: "The father-in-law of Pippa Middleton, the sister of the wife of Britain’s Prince William, is facing preliminary charges in France in connection with the rape of a minor in the 1990s. David Matthews was charged by an investigative magistrate Friday, three days after being questioned by police. Preliminary charges call for further investigation and can be dropped if sufficient evidence is not found (AP)." 


In what some portray as a fight for the identity of France, Macron wants to reduce the role of the state and inject vitality in the economy by trimming guarantees for workers and increasing competition, among other things.

His critics say he is favoring the rich and eroding workers’ hard-won labor rights with moves that risk increasing wealth disparity in a country whose national motto includes the word ‘‘equality.’’

Macron justified a tax rise for retirees, saying it’s needed to finance pensions. He also insisted tax cuts for employees and businesses would boost investment and create more jobs.

Last year, despite labor protests, the government used an accelerated procedure to push a labor bill through Parliament that many feel weakened worker protections.

This spring, Macron’s government initiated changes to tax retirees more and employees less, cut jobs in some hospitals, reorganize the justice system, and apply a new university admissions system — all prompting protests, but Macron’s biggest challenge so far is from railroad unions, which are resisting his attempt to eliminate rules that in effect give workers jobs for life. That has prompted nationwide strikes that have disrupted train traffic, and the unions plan periodic rolling strikes through June. Legislators begin debating the railroad labor bill this week.

Polls show a majority of the public approves the rail service changes, but a growing minority supports the strikes.

The strikes and protests evoke those of 1995. That year, general strikes forced President Jacques Chirac’s government to abandon its agenda for the economy.

This week, protesting students are occupying and partially blocking several public universities. They fear a bill to reorganize university admissions will threaten the current system, under which all high school graduates have free access to public universities.

Now there is an idea.

The Elysee Palace so far considers the protest movement as relatively limited, compared with the 1.6 million students enrolled in French universities, but Macron is worried enough that he scheduled two long television interviews to explain his position. In addition to Thursday’s session, he will spend two hours answering questions on Sunday.

He should be, especially after the actions in Syria Friday. 

Sure took the attention of the protests, though!


Of course, he has no challenger:

"Sarkozy ordered to stand trial for alleged corruption, abuse of influence" by James McAuley Washington Post  March 29, 2018

PARIS — France’s highest court on Thursday ordered former president Nicolas Sarkozy to stand trial for allegedly attempting to intervene in an investigation into his 2007 campaign finances.

The charges — for corruption and the abuse of influence — emerged as the latest twist in a tangled web of suspected wrongdoing that Sarkozy, France’s conservative president between 2007 and 2012, has doggedly denied. Specifically, they concern allegations that he attempted to sway judges investigating him for campaign finance abuses.

A French media outlet, citing documents from Libyan archives, reported shortly after Sarkozy left office that he may have accepted cash transfers of 50 million euros from the regime of the now-deceased dictator Moammar Gadhafi in order to finance his 2007 run. A government probe was opened that year.

As part of that inquiry, investigators monitored a number of different cellphones Sarkozy used to communicate with his lawyer, Thierry Herzog. According to French media, those monitored phones revealed, in 2014, communications with a judge, Gilbert Azibert, to whom Sarkozy — planning a 2016 presidential run at the time — allegedly promised a plum position in Monaco in exchange for information about other pending legal proceedings against him.

Sarkozy and his lawyers argued that the wiretapping violated attorney-client privilege and that the secretly monitored communications should be deemed inadmissible in court. But in 2016 the Cour de Cassation, the nation’s highest judicial body, rejected their appeal, clearing the way for him to stand trial.

I'm sure Trump empathizes.

Sarkozy, 63, will now attempt to appeal the trial summons, his lawyers said Thursday in a statement. ‘‘He does not doubt that once again the truth will triumph,’’ the statement read.

That's what keeps us all going.

But even a successful appeal in this case would be unlikely to end Sarkozy’s extensive legal woes. Thursday’s order, first reported by France’s Le Monde newspaper, is only the latest in a growing list of charges.

The Libya probe is still ongoing, and Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation last week for allegedly accepting bribes and illegal campaign funds from Gadhafi’s regime.

Sarkozy also is slated to stand trial for alleged campaign finance abuses in his 2012 reelection campaign.


Well, he is out of the way.

Maybe he can claim persecution regarding the death of his political career:

"Anti-Semitic slaying of 85-year-old prompts outcry in France" Associated Press  March 28, 2018

PARIS — French leaders and activists called for people to take to the streets to protest after prosecutors filed preliminary charges of murder with anti-Semitic motives Tuesday in the death of an elderly Jewish woman.

I wish no one were killed or died, but why must a certain chosen group be elevated above everyone else?

Anybody catch the irony of leaders calling for protests? Only the right kind of protest is to be encouraged.

Mireille Knoll, 85, was killed Friday in her apartment, which was then set on fire, a French judicial official said. She was reportedly stabbed 11 times. Two men have been jailed in the case, according to the judicial official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. They face preliminary charges of robbery, damaging property, and murder with anti-Semitic motives, he said.

Isn't murder murder? 

The amount brings up terrible imagery, too. You know, Jews burning and all. That's why I'm suspicious of the event. No one tried to rescue her and her husband "had poured his life’s savings into the Colonial-era home on this seaside town’s High Street. He had pounded nails, stripped paint, refashioned moldings — breathing life back into a storied estate he was determined to preserve as its latest caretaker. But now flames danced from its roof....."

At least he's being philosophical about it as a fire broke out at a large condominium complex in Ho Chi Minh City that was caused by a man allegedly doused woman with fluid and lighting her on fire.

Knoll reportedly escaped a notorious World War II roundup of Paris Jews, in which police herded some 13,000 people into a stadium and shipped them to the Auschwitz death camp in Nazi German-occupied Poland. Fewer than 100 survived. Knoll, then 9, fled with her mother to Portugal, returning to France only after the end of the war.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo called on Parisians to join a silent march Wednesday in memory of Knoll.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that Knoll’s death was a ‘‘horrific crime,’’ and reaffirmed his ‘‘absolute determination to fight against anti-Semitism.’’



"French authorities said the killing of an elderly Jewish woman in Paris is being investigated as an anti-Semitic murder. The Paris prosecutor’s office said two suspects have been put in custody. The victim had reportedly escaped a round-up of Jews in Paris during World War II....."


Btw, did you know Palestinians are also Semites?

Just a reminder of the peril you are in, 'eh?

"Man drives car toward French soldiers; no terror link" Associated Press  March 29, 2018

PARIS — A man drove his car toward a group of French soldiers out on a Thursday morning jog, but suddenly swerved to avoid hitting them, a prosecutor said, dismissing any link with terrorism.

After a brief police manhunt, a man and a woman were arrested in the Isere region, a police official said.

The official said the woman, arrested in Echirolles, a suburb of Grenoble, in southeast France, was the owner of the car. The man was apprehended in Grenoble.

No injuries were reported.

‘‘We are very clearly not dealing with a case of terrorism,’’ Grenoble prosecutor Jean-Yves Coquillat said.

The man has a long record of petty crime with 25 convictions and was twice imprisoned for a total of four years. But he shows no sign of Islamic radicalization, Coquillat said.....

He must have had a job.