If radical Islamic clerics thought they were immune to terror threats themselves, then they have now been disabused of that notion. Last month in France, instead of the predictable pattern of arrests of Islamic jihadists plotting deadly terrorist attacks; this time, the jihadists were apparently the targets themselves. This turn of events signals France’s accelerated spiral into lawless violence.
The French newspaper Le Figaro reported that police in June took ten people into custody for allegedly targeting for attack “radical imams, veiled women and convicted jihadists released from prison.” (There are currently 512 people convicted on terrorism charges in French prisons.) The arrests were made in the Paris region, Corsica, and in Charante-Maritime.
“This group was aiming for ‘targets presumed in connection with radical Islam,’ ” a source told Le Figaro.
Raids on several homes turned up “rifles, pistols, and homemade grenades” and police reported this “groupuscule” (small group) “trained regularly at sport shooting clubs and had prepared arms caches and food supplies in case of a major crisis.” (Which makes one wonder whether they were “ultra-right” terrorists or simply survivalists.)
The surprising feature about this group is its composition. It is not one that is usually associated with the “ultra-right” — namely young, skinhead, neo-Nazi types. The ten, for the most part, are family fathers and range in age from 32 to 69 without prior arrest records, and one member is female. And the presumed leader of the group is also a retired national policeman.