French jihad cell dismantled
PARIS. The day after the Nobel Prize for physics was awarded to Serge Haroche, a French Jew born in Casablanca, material to make IEDs were found in a garage rented by Jérémie Bailly, alleged ringleader of the jihad cell dismantled on October 6th. The Naouri grocery store in Sarcelles, hit by a grenade attack on September 19th, is at the top of the list of a dozen Jewish targets found in Bailly’s apartment. One suspect, Jérémie Louis-Sydney, was killed in a shootout with the police and twelve suspects were arrested in a coordinated operation in Cannes, Strasbourg, and Torcy, a banlieue of Paris. Five have been released and seven charged with terrorist associations, attempted assassination aggravated by anti-Semitic motivations and/or recruiting jihadis to fight in Syria. The story dominated the French news stream for several days, triggering belated recognition of twelve years of anti-Semitic violence at a level unknown since the Shoah. The lid has finally been lifted on a seething cauldron whose explosive powers are slightly dampened by the breakup of one cell among how many?
The torrent of news report, commentary, and official declarations gave a false impression of ample information. Looking back, it seems that we know next to nothing about the suspects and their projects. Only three have been named—the Antillais Jérémie Louis-Sydney, the failed soccer player of Congolese origin Yann Nkusa, and Jérémie Bailly. Not a word, not a detail, not a leak about the others except that they are all born in France, delinquents and, save one, converts to Islam. Because Louis-Sydney had served a brief prison term, it was assumed the others, too, must have been "radicalized” in jail. Hours of discussion were devoted to the problem of criminals converting to Islam or getting radicalized in jail. Now it turns out only one or two of them had been in prison. So how did they get to be Muslim?
The attack on a kosher grocery store in Sarcelles with a bizarre kind of "low-level” grenade seemed minor on the scale of physical violence perpetrated on Jews over the past twelve years—bashed, stabbed, stomped and, in the worst cases, tortured, murdered, mutilated. The grocery store didn’t burn or explode, the window was smashed with a brick, one person was slightly injured. The story dropped out of sight.
And reappeared with the dawn raid on the 6th of October. The investigation had been transferred from local police to the anti-terrorist unit when the DNA of Louis-Sydney, who had attracted the attention of internal security (DCRI) last spring, was found on the grenade. Officials did not want to repeat the error of passive surveillance that had left Mohamed Merah free to commit heinous murders before he was finally cornered and killed. Investigators, convinced that the jihadis were preparing an imminent major attack, moved in on them swiftly. (continue reading...)