Fight against terrorism/planned attack in France
Paris, April 22, 2015
Q. – The Interior Minister announced this morning that an imminent attack had been prevented. The individual was known to the intelligence services. Was he still being monitored, and if not, why did he remain at large without any surveillance? Was there a failure of the intelligence services, the police or the justice system?
THE PRESIDENT – A terrorist attack was foiled. It wasn’t the first one: there have been others in recent weeks and months. This one had begun to be perpetrated, according to the information we have. It could have had other consequences, because it appears that one target was a church, no doubt with human consequences that would have been even more serious. They already are, because a young woman was most probably killed by the man who was arrested, but it’s up to the courts to do their work.
Likewise, what was done to arrest him will be established. I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the police, because they didn’t simply arrest an individual who came forward and made out that he’d been the victim of an attack: they understood there was cross-checking to do and a very rapid investigation to conduct if they wanted to prevent the worst.
What conclusions do I draw from this? The first conclusion is that we’re still under the terrorist threat. When I say “we”, it’s not simply France but many countries, and so we must continue being vigilant. And that’s why I kept the Vigipirate plan at its highest level since the beginning of the attacks in January. It’s mobilizing a lot of forces: police, gendarmes and soldiers. We’ll keep the operation in place – or perhaps I should say in motion – for as long as necessary.
The second conclusion is that we must always improve our intelligence capability within today’s and tomorrow’s rule of law, with due regard for freedoms. A text is therefore being discussed. I’d like it to be possible for this text to be adopted, with full safeguards, because I myself have referred the matter to the Constitutional Council to ensure there’s no doubt about the constitutionality of the text, on some specific points.
Finally, there should be exemplary cooperation with all the services – European services and also services from countries which are or may be victims of terrorism – so that we can track the journeys of a number of individuals and be extremely vigilant about what’s happening on our territory, and we are.
The last point – and no doubt the most important in terms of national cohesion – is to be united, come together, have confidence in the Republic and remember that those who have the capacity to act, to intervene, are doing so wisely. And be united to combine all our efforts, in order not to give in to terrorism, to what it wants, to what it seeks, namely suspicion, hatred and division, which would alter the values we uphold, those values which are today upheld well beyond France. It so happens that I’m with the Ukrainian President; in the name of freedom, Ukraine is seeking ways to guarantee its future, and France has always fought for freedom, and still does today./.