Israelis are, sadly, all too familiar with the way that the Nice atrocity was carried out—driving a vehicle into a crowd of people—but extending this technique elsewhere is something that ISIS has recommended for a while.
Isis has not claimed responsibility for the attack, though it has been celebrated by its supporters. But the manner that it was conducted seems to be in keeping with calls from Isis spokesperson Abu Mohammed al-Adnani. He called on Isis supporters to use vehicles to commit terror attacks, if they didn’t have access to more traditional weapons. The call came soon after Adnani was appointed as spokesperson, in late 2014. “If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman or any of their allies,” he said in one of his first speeches, according to a translation from the SITE Intelligence Group.
“Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car.”
Soon after that warning was first given, a man who claimed to be acting in support of Isis used a car to ram into security officials in Canada.
Meanwhile, to understand where France appears to be heading, take the time to read this (long), beautifully-written piece that Ben Judah wrote for Standpoint some weeks ago.
France has a far more virulent rejection of Muslim multiculturalism. The majority even find Islam itself incompatible with the values of French society. The word communitaire is only used with sharply negative connotations. This is because Saint-Denis clashes with the underlying French ideology — La République, the enlightenment scheme whereby there should be nothing between the will of a uniform, secular state and its citizens. No priests, no imams, no community elders.
The symbolism of scheduling his attack for Bastille Day will not, I suspect, have been lost on the killer.
The streets of Saint-Denis [a Paris suburb] talk as if the authorities have lost their grip. Jihadists are waging a dirty war on the Republic, recruiting intensively in these banlieues. Since 2012, stabbings, shootings and car rammings have taken place every few months, punctuated by slaughters such as Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan.
A French official tells Judah what has gone wrong:
“The children of this great wave of immigration are living in failure,” he says. “The failure of integration, the failure of schooling, the failure of employment.” Every day, Islamists are gaining ground in Saint-Denis. Militant Salafist and fundamentalist groups are active around the mosques, says the prefect, who finds the imams worryingly reluctant to speak to his officials. “The children of immigrants don’t recognise as their values those values that attracted their parents to France.” He remembers the first wave of North African immigrants: no veils, no beards, no Salafists. They came, he says, not just for French jobs but also for French liberty. “They were proud of those values. But I don’t think their children share the same pride.” Under his administration the prefect sees a generation in thrall to football, rap and Allah. And the old values? “They just don’t attach any value to them.”
… The rise of Saint-Denis France means the flight of the Jews. Since 2000, when banlieue anti-Semitism began to flare alongside the Palestinian intifada, the number of Jewish families in Aulnay-sous-Bois fell from 600 to 100, in Le Blanc-Mesnil from 300 to 100, in Clichy-Sous-Bois from 400 to 80, and in La Courneuve from 300 to 80. French Jews call this flight internal Aliyah.
And Jews are the canaries in the coal mine, their exodus, a pollster tells Judah, followed “by massive flight of the non-immigrant population from these areas”. That’s a flight that can, of course, only add to France’s growing Balkanization. The pollster stresses that the French (and this is not, I should add, just a French thing) exaggerate the size of their country’s Muslim population, believing it, he claims, to be 31 percent. The real figure, he says, is 7-8 percent. That’s an estimate backed up by a Pew survey from 2015 (based on 2010 findings), and the CIA. Nevertheless, that exaggeration is itself an expression of unease about what has, however you calculate it, been a dramatic change in the composition of the French population (and the creation of a large Muslim minority is far from the only change) and, of course, about the way that some in the Muslim population are making their presence felt. That unease has found expression in the rise of Marine Le Pen’s National Front.
The left’s ideology is muddled, the right’s is vague, but Marine’s is crystal clear. They call it Le Grand Remplacement: the idea that France is ceasing to be France demographically, that slowly this century the old majority is being replaced by a new one, of immigrant ethnicity.
Judah visits Hayange, a rustbelt town won by the National Front in the 2014 elections, where he finds that the anger is directed not at the French governing class but, so to speak, at Saint-Denis. The National Front mayor (gay, atheist, vegetarian, a former man of the far left) “doesn’t talk about unemployment, austerity or the euro, only France’s ethnic change.”
What made a gay leftist switch from the far Left to the Front? “I realised,” he announces, “my error of interpretation on immigration and Islamisation, which is a danger to liberty.”
Neither Islamists nor nationalists are about to take power. But the hatred between Saint-Denis and Hayange will shape the future of France.
In that connection, Patrick Calvar, head of France’s General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI) told a parliamentary enquiry into the 2015 Paris killings that he feared a ‘confrontation between the far right and the Muslim world’. The testimony was given earlier this year, but published this week (before Nice). Calvar has also talked about the risk of a ‘civil war’ in France. Last night’s massacre will only have made things worse.