Nice attack: Why France is prime target for terrorists

If the Nice attack turns out to be the work of Islamic terrorists, then France could very well become the number one target.

Written by Abhimanyu Chakravorty | New Delhi | Updated: July 15, 2016 6:42 pm
A woman places a candle during a vigil to honor victims of the Bastille Day tragedy in Nice, France, in Sydney, Australia, Friday, July 15, 2016. World leaders are expressing dismay, sadness and solidarity with France over the attack carried out by a man who drove truck into crowds of people celebrating France's national day in Nice. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith) A woman places a candle during a vigil to honor victims of the Bastille Day tragedy in Nice, France, where 84 people were killed and several others were injured. (Source: AP)

Once again, after a hiatus of eight months, France has been struck by suspected Islamic terrorists. Time after time, France bears the brunt of terrorism with more people leaving to join the ISIS and other jihadi ranks in Iraq and Syria. According to data released by The International Centre of Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (based on data from second half of 2014) as published in the Wall Street Journal, nearly 1200 people had joined jihadist ranks from France alone in Iraq and Syria, followed by Germany and Britain.

Read | Nice Truck attack: As it happened

And now, a man driving a truck, reportedly a French citizen of Tunisian origin, ploughed into a crowd that was celebrating Bastille Day in Nice along the picturesque French Riviera, killing at least 84 and injuring hundred others. This attack comes just eight months after Islamic State-linked extremists killed nearly 130 people at the Bataclan concert hall and other sites across Paris.

French police secure the area as the investigation continues at the scene near the heavy truck that ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores who were celebrating the Bastille Day July 14 national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard French police secure the area as the investigation continues at the scene near the heavy truck that ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores who were celebrating the Bastille Day July 14 national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, July 15, 2016. (Source: Reuters)

Islamic State sympathisers are already reveling on social media after the attack, with one tweet saying, “The number of those killed had reached 62 french crusaders and sinful infidels in Nice, France.. God is great, God is great.” However, if this attack turns out to be the work of Islamic terrorists, then France could very well become the number one target.

Read | France attack: A white truck, bodies fly, and a world of tears in Nice

The question is, even though Islamic extremists consider the US as their greatest enemy, why France again?

France has a long, complex history with the Muslim world. With a population of around 66 million, the country has a 7-9 per cent (approx) Muslim population who are mostly immigrants from North Africa and their descendants. After France conquest of Algeria in 1830, it seemingly considered Muslim Africa as its own backyard. During the World War I, and after the country conquered Syria and Lebanon as well, many Frenchmen settled in North Africa, while many North Africans came to France looking for employment in new factories. Many immigrant Africans settled in poor areas of Lyon, Paris and up North.

In post-industrial France, many factories and industries shut down resulting in widespread unemployment. However, the settlers stayed back. The subsequent generations thereafter harboured massive discontent for France for their exclusion from the French society, and the country did not do a great job at integrating them. These settlements, known pejoratively as banlieues, are believed to have become a significant recruitment pool for jihadist elements like ISIS and al Qaeda, say experts.

Read | Behind Nice attack, a Caliphate in retreat 

ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH - A body is seen on the ground July 15, 2016 after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard REUTERS/Eric Gaillard TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY A body is seen on the ground July 15, 2016 after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14. (Source: Reuters)

Largely symbolic measures against Muslims, such as the 2010 ban on wearing face veils in public, also added to the simmering anger.

Perhaps, what’s immediately relevant to know is France President Hollande had decided on Thursday, a day before Bastille Day celebrations, to redeploy the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier this fall to step up the fight against the Islamic State group and suggested an increase in ground troops for training and support to take back Mosul, in northern Iraq. “We must strike and destroy those who aggressed us here in two sets of attacks last year,” Hollande had said.

This, coupled with an already intensive airstrikes in IS-held territories in Iraq and Syria beginning last September has probably fanned rabid hatred for France from jihadists. What is more revealing is the fact that the Islamic State has consistently lashed out at France for its current policies that it considers un-Islamic.

In a string of statements after the Bataclan Theatre attack, the IS had said France remains the primary target. “France and those who follow its path must know that they remain the principal targets of the Islamic State,” read the IS statement. It also referred to Paris as a “capital of prostitution and obscenity”. In fact, one of the witnesses in the Bataclan theatre attack, according to the New York Times, also reportedly heard a terrorist saying,”This is because of all the harm done by Hollande to Muslims all over the world.”

Some experts on terrorism had argued a year ago about whether it should intervene in the Iraq and Syria crises claiming that the Islamic State posed no threat to the world. The carnage in Nice just goes to show how misleading the analysis was.

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  1. A
    Aryan
    Jul 16, 2016 at 12:05 am
    Suspect, which had been killed by French armed woman later, was not a supporter of any islam source and islam.lt;br/gt;All world m media referred to the primary sources -- the French internet m media, which do publish true related to an ordinary murder never; the French m media produce the most aggressive views against islam.lt;br/gt;To be registered in France does not mean French.lt;br/gt;There was no any event, which could be qualified as "terrorizm" or "rerroristic act" on 14JUL2016 in Nice, France. The French police [against their Francois Holland] refused to qualify the 14JUl2016 Nice event as "terrorism".
    Reply
    1. A
      ashok s
      Jul 16, 2016 at 12:50 am
      France and other colonists paying price for their deeds.reap what you sow.
      Reply
      1. V
        vidya
        Jul 15, 2016 at 2:39 pm
        Christianity is a worse threat because because of the sophisticated sophistry of the language of their proponents. The terror that the Americans unleashed in Iraq telling lies about the weopens of m destruction, the dela action in Rwanda too late to help the minority Tutsis, joining hands of the pope and church with Hitler..countless examples. On a less dramatic level is the annoying and dishonest way in which they indulge in proselytizing breaking indigeneous cultures. Most dangerous is the way they revere faith as though in can take the place of rationality and truth. For Islam to calm down, Christianity needs a reality check.
        Reply
        1. S
          Siv
          Jul 15, 2016 at 1:39 pm
          As usual, the article blames the victims than the perpetrators or their ideology. Why not probe the two words the marauder shrieked in his truck?
          Reply
          1. J
            Jaideep Gupta
            Jul 15, 2016 at 1:54 pm
            Indian Express you are the champion of Muslims causes. so I am going to stop reading your paper slowly.
            Reply
            1. J
              Jaideep Gupta
              Jul 15, 2016 at 1:47 pm
              Not only France but the w Europe is under attack from Islamic terrorism. You Indian Express try not to mess up the w thing.
              Reply
              1. F
                Frank
                Jul 15, 2016 at 12:38 pm
                Good historic perspective
                Reply
                1. J
                  Jio
                  Jul 15, 2016 at 11:56 am
                  Shame on this site trying to put the blame of France itself for the attack!
                  Reply
                  1. H
                    hallucinations
                    Jul 15, 2016 at 6:08 pm
                    Lol hallucinations of a educated sickular. Beautifully worded and organized, but at the end of the day everything you said is a myth. Even if they were integrated, they would still have done these things. Don't forget, the Quran says that muslims should always strive to live under a muslim ruler. All these rise from that.
                    Reply
                    1. H
                      hallucinations
                      Jul 15, 2016 at 6:17 pm
                      The muslims will not rest in peace until they restore the caliphate and sharia law
                      Reply
                      1. I
                        Ihsas Khan
                        Jul 15, 2016 at 12:22 pm
                        Alhamdulillah! Did France think they could run away from their crimes. For lovers of justice (whether you are Muslim, Jew, Christian, Hindu, Greek) - today is a glorious day, filled with celebration as the evil murdering rapists of women in Algeria, Afghanistan and Mali have finally bled - know France is going to be destro - eradicated, Praise be to God, God forbid I was getting anno with the All Mighty that why He wasn't using enough mujahideen to slaughter infidels - but Alhamdulillah, God loves the patient, and all it takes is one Muslim man to strike fear into the hearts of the infidels
                        Reply
                        1. J
                          J.Isaac Rajasekaran
                          Jul 15, 2016 at 2:47 pm
                          The French President has termed this carnage as 'deable'.Will the cowardice killers of women and children understand such gentle admonition?
                          Reply
                          1. A
                            arun kumar
                            Jul 15, 2016 at 12:37 pm
                            seems like we are heading toward a world war soon...There has been a lot of volatile situations.. countries are becoming aggressive...More than countries the danger lies with these so called extremists...each one of them taking tens an hundreds of people with them.
                            Reply
                            1. K
                              Krishna
                              Jul 15, 2016 at 11:43 am
                              ISIS is not only threat to world but for Islam also.
                              Reply
                              1. L
                                L bhadrapati Devi
                                Jul 15, 2016 at 4:53 pm
                                Educated Muslim is more dangerous than illiterate one because some reporters like A Chakraborty justifies terrorism. It is highly condemnable to glorifies terrorism. Whether media house write this article under threat from Isis?
                                Reply
                                1. L
                                  L bhadrapati Devi
                                  Jul 15, 2016 at 4:56 pm
                                  Global terrorism spread mental disorder of revenged killing against Islam all over the globe. One day supporters of Islamic ideology like secular media and pseudo intellect may be attacked.
                                  Reply
                                  1. N
                                    Niladrinath Mohanty
                                    Jul 15, 2016 at 10:46 pm
                                    By your words you have reduced the glory of God.
                                    Reply
                                    1. J
                                      joe
                                      Jul 15, 2016 at 12:15 pm
                                      Sometimes we have to walk away from our own to know the truth. Abraham walked away from his family at Ur in Mesopotomia to the path of righteousness, his nephew too walked away with him but his nephew Lot chose the path of unrighteousness. Asoka walked away from the path of Kashtriya dharma to embrace the Budhha. Buddha walked away from his family of Kashtriyas and Kingdom to found the eight-fold path. So we need walking away from philosophies into which we are born to embrace philosophies which advocate love even for our enemies.
                                      Reply
                                      1. R
                                        Reginald Bowler
                                        Jul 15, 2016 at 12:08 pm
                                        The problem is that Western actions, particularly actions by the USA, france, the UK, in places like Iraq, Libya and Syria, where the governments of those places have been destro or badly damaged, have both removed the prime barriers against jihadist extremism, and left the potions of those places generally with reinforced anti-Western feelings - not just the people fighting and terrorising, but the ordinayr people of those countries too - if extremist terrorism is a problem in france, for instance, just look at the scale of violence in Libya/Iraq/Syria! Ordinary people there have to live with it, so it's no wonder they're upset.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The best plan now would to be to ist the Syrian government back to a position where it has control of the country, which would mively reduce the scale of the immediate problem, and progress towards allowing the potions of other places to be empowered to accomplish their own wants, and not to try and impose outside political decisions and financial interests on them.
                                        Reply
                                        1. S
                                          Samia
                                          Jul 15, 2016 at 1:41 pm
                                          Brother ihsaan.. u r wrong. No one has the right to kill innocent people of any religion. I doubt that u r Muslim and have such type of thinking. Go and read quran and Hadith.. if someone harm you that does not give you the right to kill another innocent people..
                                          Reply
                                          1. S
                                            Samia
                                            Jul 15, 2016 at 1:43 pm
                                            I agree with you bro.. that's what our religion taught us.. but some people who claim to be a Muslim and do such things.. they are defaming Islam by their acts..
                                            Reply
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