Thursday, July 14, 2005


Is Britain soft on terror while France fights the good fight?

Over the past week, I’ve posted a couple of items expressing surprise at the fact that one of the men whose name surfaced almost immediately after the London terrorist attacks – Mohammad al-Garbuzi – had essentially been harbored by the British, who refused extradition after he was convicted in Morocco in the Casablanca bombings. It subsequently turned out that this same man was wanted by the Spanish authorities in connection with the Madrid train bombings.

After living openly, having been granted asylum, in Britain for ten years, he walked away from his apartment several months ago and disappeared. In the wake of the London attacks (and possibly before the attacks), British authorities were asking police and intelligence agencies on the continent to locate Garbuzi.

Apparently, this news should not have come as a surprise. While aware that Britain had problems with a large and loudly militant Muslim population, I had not realized the extent of the problem, which Daniel Pipes
puts into perspective:

British-based terrorists have carried out operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel, Morocco, Russia, Spain, and America. Many governments - Jordanian, Egyptian, Moroccan, Spanish, French, and American - have protested London's refusal to shut down its Islamist terrorist infrastructure or extradite wanted operatives. In frustration, Egypt's president
Hosni Mubarak publicly denounced Britain for "protecting killers." One American security group has called for Britain to be listed as a terrorism-sponsoring state.

Counterterrorism specialists disdain the British. Roger Cressey calls London "easily the most important jihadist hub in Western Europe." Steven Simon dismisses the British capital as "the Star Wars bar scene" of Islamic radicals. More brutally, an intelligence official said of last week's attacks: "The terrorists have come home. It is payback time for … an irresponsible policy."

This contrasts with the general public perception of Britain as a rock-solid partner in the War against terrorism. Even more surprisingly, Britain’s failure to come to terms with the realities of the militant Islamist threat contrasts sharply with the efforts of, of all nations, France:

While London hosts terrorists, Paris hosts
a top-secret counterterrorism center, code-named Alliance Base, the existence of which was recently reported by the Washington Post. At Alliance Base, six major Western governments have since 2002 shared intelligence and run counterterrorism operations - the latter makes the operation unique.

More broadly, President Chirac instructed French intelligence agencies just days after September 11, 2001, to share terrorism data with their American counterparts "as if they were your own service." The cooperation is working: A former acting CIA director, John E. McLaughlin, called the bilateral intelligence tie "one of the best in the world." The British may have a "special relationship" with Washington on Iraq, but the French have one with it in the war on terror.

France accords terrorist suspects fewer rights than any other Western state, permitting interrogation without a lawyer, lengthy pre-trial incarcerations, and evidence acquired under dubious circumstances. Were he a terrorism suspect, the author of Al-Qaida's Jihad in Europe, Evan Kohlmann, says he "would least like to be held under" the French system.

Pipes attributes this remarkable difference in attitude to the role of national traditions and heritage:

What lies behind these contrary responses? The British have seemingly lost interest in their heritage while the French hold on to theirs: As the British ban fox hunting, the French ban hijabs. The former
embrace multiculturalism, the latter retain a pride in their historic culture. This contrast in matters of identity makes Britain the Western country most vulnerable to the ravages of radical Islam whereas France, for all its political failings, has held onto a sense of self that may yet see it through.

I’m not sure I can agree with Pipes’ conclusion. While France may hang on to vestiges of its cultural traditions and heritage, it continues to adhere to immigration policies bordering on the imbecilic. I have seen serious estimates that suggest that sometime this century the French will become a minority in France, as waves of unassimilated Muslim immigrants, largely from North Africa, overwhelm the country.

Yes, France banned the hijab, the muslim headscarf, in public schools while Tony Blair’s wife represented the plaintiff in a British case demanding – and winning – the right to wear the jilbab, which covers all but face and hands. But then too, France has either tolerated, or been unable to stem, a rising tide of Muslim violence directed against French Jews, and the banning of the hijab was really nothing more than an extension of France’s humanist absolutism, as the Christian cross and all other “religious” symbols and attire were banned by the same law.
Unless France changes its immigration policies, and soon, all the anti-terrorism activities in the world will not save her.

As for Britain, it is easy to forget, in view of Iraq and Afghanistan, that Tony Blair is a liberal, and British liberals have embraced “diversity” as a goal and a good in and of itself, much like the left in this country. But the democracies that have adopted “diversity” as a measure of their society are failing to realize that in enforcing diversity they are fostering the very forces which seek to destroy democracy.

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