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The Nightmare Won’t End in Toulouse
Posted on Mar 21, 2012
By Barry Lando
Of course, anything is possible as we’ve seen in the U.S. since 9/11, and we can be sure in the current superheated political climate in France, we’ll hear the most extreme demands.
You can also be sure that any massive crackdown will only further increase the alienation of young Muslims.
And, in the end, there will almost certainly be plenty of bloody-minded young men and women who will slip through the net.
How about dealing with the root problem? Launch massive programs—housing, schools, jobs, etc.—to really integrate deprived Muslim communities in France and throughout Europe. In fact, Sarkozy has been making an important effort to provide better housing, but a few years of effort cannot overcome decades of prejudice and neglect.
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You can be sure, however, that there will be many who will cite the Toulouse killings to argue just the opposite: The fact that Merah may have received some terrorist training in Afghanistan is proof of the threat that jihadis operating there still pose to Europe. Thus, the imperative need to persevere until the Taliban and their allies are defeated, the threat totally liquidated.
But the problem is that, as the past decade has brutally demonstrated despite a huge investment in treasure and blood by the U.S. and its allies, such a military victory is not in the cards. The only way out is some kind of deal with the Taliban and their allies—a deal whereby they take a share of power with the understanding that any attempt to turn their country again into a training ground for terrorists targeting Europe or the U.S. will be dealt with by drones and special forces, not massive troop interventions.
Indeed, there is a strong argument that the American and NATO presence in the Muslim world has done more to ignite the outrage of young Muslims elsewhere than any ragtag training camps. Why would Merah have gone to Afghanistan if it were not for the presence of French troops in that Muslim country?
Which brings us to Israel and Iran.
Some militant Israelis—and their backers in the U.S.—will use the Toulouse attacks to bolster the case for bombing Iran. The argument: Just imagine if that al-Qaida killer in Toulouse and others like him throughout Europe and the U.S. had access not just to a .45-caliber pistol and a Kalashnikov, but to a nuclear weapon furnished by Iran.
One would hope, however, that the Toulouse attack would give Israeli hawks pause. In assessing the risks of bombing Iran, Israeli intelligence analysts have been speculating about the kind of retaliation their country might face.
It’s clear now that not just Israeli citizens would be at risk.
In fact, compared with the 191 people killed and 1,800 wounded when al-Qaida-inspired terrorists bombed the railway in Madrid in 2004, and the 52 people killed and 700 injured in coordinated suicide attacks on the London Underground in July 2005, France so far has had it easy.
Imagine the incredible mayhem if one day terrorists like Mohammed Merah decided to target The Chunnel linking Paris and London.
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