France in the crosshairs of Jihadism

French self-condemnation as a result of persistent imperialist interests
France in the crosshairs of Jihadism


The maintenance of a permanent, though "controllable", degree of instability allows both the maintenance of the economic exploitation of "useful areas" and the justification of the foreign military presence in a lasting way in the ex-colonial territories: maintaining by force, destabilization and making dependent on security matters.

Unlike the case of Spain or the United Kingdom, who in their early days were mainly attacked by national terrorism, in the case of France there is talk of transnational terrorism derived from French influence and interference in African and Arab territories.

As a starting point, one can take the war in Algeria, a former French colony, during the years 1954 to 1964, which resulted in more than 13,500 attacks on French territory with more than 4,000 dead and 9,000 wounded. Anticipating terrorism from the Middle East between 1984 and 1993, the result of the link between the war in Lebanon and the disagreements between France, Iran and Libya. In addition to this first "wave of internationalization of terrorism" in France, the fact that Israelis and Palestinians took that territory as a battleground was added.

In 1992, a new Algerian civil war arose that resulted in the beginning of what would be Islamic terrorism in the French country; France's indirect support for the Algerian government in the elections led Algerian groups to divert their focus of attack to stop that support. Among the Islamic groups involved is the GIA, which was responsible for the attacks on the Paris metro in 1995 and 1996. 

Francia en el punto de mira

Before the Algerian civil war ended in 1997, Maghrebi terrorism, de-territorialized and promoted by Ayman al-Zawahiri, number two in Al Qaeda, opened its doors in 1995: the theory of the "distant enemy. In this case, France, as an ally of the United States, joined the disagreements that had been assembled during the last few years. 

Many of the former members of the GIA joined the ranks of Al Qaeda, forming the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which would later consecrate the franchise of Bin Laden's organization in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI). This new movement would begin global terrorism, including in its ranks Islamists from all Maghreb countries and French Muslims of the third generation, committed to the international jihad. 

The three main Islamist currents that predominate in France should be distinguished. First, the traditionalist Dar al-ifta of Saudi origin, with a peaceful and non-violent vision of Islam. In second place the political branch, the "physist", of the Algerian party FIS, peaceful and with a varied publicity strategy. And in last place the jihadist, of Salafist origin, defender of the armed jihad and of the Takfir. 

Francia punto de mira

The question is, how did these currents get to France and why do they have so much influence? 

The key lies in the close relations that France maintains with the countries of the Maghreb and the Sahel, with the consequent migration from them and with various sociological aspects, such as the high rate of Muslims in prison, favoring the conversion and radicalization of the prisoners. 

In addition to these causes, there are international networks and connections established on French soil: the Afghan network, the Algerian network (the oldest), established by the GIA, the FIS and which would now form the GSPC integrated into AQMI and related to the Iraqi network, and finally the Pakistani and Syrian networks. 

The reason for these relationships and networks derives from the French colonial empire and its subsequent independence in the 1960s. Since the loss of these territories, the different French leaders have tried to consolidate a European dimension through military interventionism in Africa. This Europeanization materialized after the Cold War and the delegitimization of France's protective role after the Rwandan genocide.

While France is actively involved in African relations, the rest of the European Union prioritizes other areas, making this Europeanization demanded by the French difficult. It was in 2016 when they took the path of rapid action based on the provisions of its Constitution, so that despite not sharing decision-making power with the European Union, they expect to receive their military support later. This line has been observed during recent interventions in Mali and the D.R. of Congo, with an initial French intervention which was later joined by European support, mainly economic. 

Francia en el punto de mira

An important event during this last year was the assassination by French troops of AQIM's leader in Mali, Algerian Abdelmalek Drukel, from GSPC. This was the result of the anti-terrorist mission against the jihadist coalition Groupe d'Appui à l'Islam, which includes groups such as Al Qaeda, Ansar Dine, Front de Macina and Al Murabitún. 

One point to take into account, especially when designing and implementing measures to prevent and combat terrorism at the sociological level, are the characteristics of the jihadist cells on French soil and those of their members, in addition to the path of radicalization. 

Currently most of them are self-radicalized individuals, especially through the Internet and local mosques. The groups and cells usually originate from family circles or from links between criminals and jihadists, in which the religious dimension becomes a justification for the economic dimension as a means of financing terrorism. The profiles of unemployed young people with a criminal past, often with a prison sentence, who find in jihadism a way of escape and recognition, stand out. 

Francia en el punto de mira

However, underneath the good intentions that mask the French speeches, we find the real purpose of their acts: the military presence is in the background compared to the economic one. The greatest Welsh fortunes come from private companies that develop their business on African soil. We can call it the three-income system: necessary services, natural resources and agriculture.

An example of this is the privatisation of drinking water, electricity, means of transport and production and port controls in Senegal, Cameroon and the Ivory Coast. The appropriation and exploitation of mining and energy resources, as in the case of the uranium mines in Niger and South Africa. And agro-industry, being an important source of income during the colonial period and even after the achievement of independence. The French appropriation of resources has made true "independence" impossible. "The systematic destruction of the state companies created at the time of independence is translated everywhere into the direct establishment of multinationals in these strategic sectors".  

The three rents are one reason, perhaps the main one, to explain the military presence of France on African soil, besides revealing the ultimate purpose of its motivations: to maintain by force, destabilization and make it dependent on security. 

Francia en el punto de mira

That is why more and more voices are being raised in the Sahel, considering the purpose of Operation Barkhane. As the jihadist situation has not improved, the feeling of insecurity has multiplied, which justifies the prolongation of the French presence and the increase in the number of troops present.

We can therefore consider the two war objectives pursued by France: to strengthen the African States and at the same time to weaken them, to maintain them economically and militarily dependent on the former colonial power. The maintenance of a permanent but "controllable" degree of instability allows both to maintain the economic exploitation of "useful areas" and to justify a lasting foreign military presence.