As I listened to French president Francois Hollande over the weekend, I was struck by the familiarity of the ritual phrases he used to signal the French response to the well-orchestrated terror attacks that swept through my old neighborhood in Paris on Friday the 13th like a moveable feast of impotence and death.
“France will be merciless toward the Daesh barbarians,” the president declaimed, referring to the Islamic State by its Arabic-language sobriquet. “France will act with all the legal means at its disposal.”
As I recall, that’s the same thing Hollande said in January after another group of jihadi Muslim terrorists assaulted the editorial offices of the satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, murdering journalists, cartoonists, and a security guard.
And it was the same language he used a few days later when yet another group of jihadi Muslims hit a kosher supermarket in Paris.
Ten months later, what “merciless” steps have the French government taken against Daesh. Have they done anything to staunch the flow of young French Muslims traveling to Syria who plan to continue their jihad against the “infidel” West after they return to Europe?
The Direction de Surveillance du Territoire (DST), the French equivalent of the FBI, maintains a registry of “radicalized” young Muslims, known as “S-cards.”
The French S-registry contains no fewer than 16 nuances of radicalization and other threats to national security, from S-1 to S-16. They distinguish between jihadis of a Salafist bent (al Qaeda and ISIS), and those obedient to the Islamic Republic of Iran, among others. Hand it to the French for identifying 16 different flavors of potential homicidal maniacs.
Just the day before the Friday the 13th attacks, I was listening to a local French state radio interview with a psychologist in Nice who was working with a non-profit program to “deradicalize” young French Muslims.
He described it as a “difficult” task, and admitted that it often appeared “almost hopeless.” He worked with a mainstream Muslim imam and local Muslim community leaders who helped to identify young people at risk of radicalization.
“When they come back for the second session, often they tell us we are ‘agents of the state’ and they won’t speak to us again,” the psychologist said. “It’s clear that in the meantime, they’ve been touched by the radical imams, who reinforce their jihadi beliefs.”
With the decree of a nation-wide State of Emergency for the first time since 1961 during the war in Algeria, President Hollande explicitly authorized the DST to conduct warrantless searches and to detain individuals without charge.
Christian Estrosi, the Mayor of Nice, cancelled a planned performance of La Traviata, and asked restaurant, bar, café and night club owners to “take all necessary measures to protect their establishments,” something their Israeli counterparts have lived with since the homicide bombings of 2002.
He also spelled out one concrete measure. “I’ve asked that all persons with S cards be placed under house arrest,” he told Nice Matin. Let’s see if that actually happens.
Step two should be a no-brainer, but no one has dared say it out loud: round up the radical imams and deport them. If they have no other nationality, then jail them on charges of sedition.
President Hollande pledged to “re-establish border controls” abandoned by the European Union’s Schengen common border agreement, a measure applauded by Front National leader Marine Le Pen, who even before the bombings appeared to be headed for a stunning victory in upcoming regional elections in December.
I arrived at the Nice airport on Sunday morning an hour and a half ahead of my flight to Washington via Germany, twice the normal time. The only warning of increased security appearing on the airport website was a note that all passengers “must be able to establish their identity” in order to board an international flight. Flights within France were exempt from these “exceptional” security measures.
We didn’t even have to take off our shoes!
On the one hand, I am tempted to applaud the French for not imposing ridiculous feel-good security measures, like the TSA. (When Somali jihadis working for airline cleaning companies can access commercial airports and secure baggage areas, as they can in Minneapolis-St. Paul among others, it proves beyond dispute that TSA is a farce).
On the other hand, it would have been reassuring to see someone, somewhere, actually question passengers intelligently about where they were coming from, whether they had been given anything to carry on board, whether they had packed their own bag, etc. But apparently the French still consider that too intrusive. God forbid that security screening questions might tip off a suspicious husband or wife to their spouse’s extramarital affair, a threat the French take far more seriously than terrorism.
As always when jihadi Muslims commit terrorist attacks, the French national media bends over backward to air the voices of “moderation” within the Muslim community and the political Establishment. These wise men and women caution against scapegoating, proclaim that terrorism is a “social” problem, and tut-tut that talk of a “war” against terrorism (even when announced by the President of France) is absurd, since everybody knows that such attacks are criminal in nature and require good police work, not a military response.
This almost suicidal plague of political correctness is obviously not just a French problem. We have it in this country, and in ways that most bloggers apparently ignore.
In my latest book, Dark Forces: the Truth About the Attacks in Benghazi, I tell the story of one Quintan Wiktorowicz,, a CIA wiz kid packed off to the UK in 2009 to study the British “deradicalization” program that was put in place after home-grown jihadis killed 52 fellow Britains in the July 7, 2005 terrorist attacks against London subways and buses.
Just as the Brits were discovering that their deradicalization program was not just a failure, but actually enhanced the stature of the radical imams involved in recruiting jihadis, the Obama White House hired Wiktorowicz to devise a similar program for the FBI to replace successful FBI training courses on Islam that highlighted the Islamic ideology of supremacy and jihad.
It’s no coincidence that thousands of American Muslims have left for jihad in Syria, just as their brothers and sisters are doing in Europe. We just don’t know how many are coming back and establishing operational cells. Last month, FBI Director James Comey said federal authorities have an estimated 900 “active investigations” pending against suspected ISIS operatives and home-grown “violent extremists” in the U.S.
My friend Mark Durie, an Anglican pastor from Australia who has written several books about Islamic doctrine, teaches us an instructive lesson from the Dutch war against radical Islam in Indonesia at the turn of the 20th century.
The Dutch East Indies Company and its commanders were losing the war in Aceh to a Muslim uprising, which they treated as an insurgency, not a religious or ideological movement. Eventually they hired a consultant named Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje, a Dutch expert on Islamic doctrine, who told them they were fighting against a jihad.
“Hugronje counseled them to change tactics,” Durie told me. “Instead of going after the insurgents and the villages they controlled, he said they needed to chase the mullahs out into the jungle and kill them, so they could empower the traditional leadership and the local clans. And it worked.”
One of the reasons cited for the Dutch success in putting down the rebellion was that they buried the rebel imams with the carcasses of pigs and made it known. That meant that instead of dying as martyrs for jihad, they died with the certainty they were unclean and were going to Hell. It was a message was not lost on the young men the imams had been so successful in recruiting up until then.
Remember President Obama explaining to an uncomprehending public that the U.S. military had given Osama Bin Laden a burial at sea to preserve his “dignity” and so not to offend Muslims? What dignity is due a wanton murderer of innocents?
Imagine if we had buried Osama Bin Laden with a pig carcass and broadcast the video? Or if each time we blast an al Qaeda or ISIS leader with a drone we send in special operations troops to gather up his remains to give them an appropriate burial and post the video on YouTube?
We will not win the war against the barbarians by playing nice. You want exceptional measures? Defeat the jihadis by robbing them of their ultimate victory: their dream of paradise.