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Fight Against Terrorism

Fight Against Terrorism

Published on March 24, 2016
Statements and speeches from the French authorities

• European Union/United States of America - Interview given by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to France Inter (Seoul, March 24, 2016)
• European Union - Replies by M. Manuel Valls, Prime Minister, to questions in the National Assembly (excerpts) (Paris, March 22, 2016)
• Domestic security/Middle East/Africa - Interview given by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defense, to the daily newspaper Le Figaro (excerpts) (Paris, March 15, 2016)

European Union/United States of America

Interview given by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to France Inter

Seoul, March 24, 2016

Q. – Mrs Clinton had some fairly harsh, fairly critical words for the European Union after the Brussels attacks, in which several American nationals were wounded. Do you think this criticism – which focuses in particular on the lack of burden-sharing in confronting terrorism, on the porosity of borders and the lack of the EU’s responsiveness – is unfair?

THE MINISTER – As regards sharing the burden, I think it has to be remembered that Europe is in the front line. It’s Europe which is most affected, but we’re not having a competition on who’s been suffering the most. This is no time for reprovals; it’s a time, more than ever, for solidarity. And solidarity also means mobilization, a readiness to fight, determination. Moreover, it’s the message sent by the entire world which met in Paris on 11 January 2015 – with 150 heads of state and government representing their countries –, which stated: “we aren’t afraid; more than anything, we’re going to step up our efforts even further”.

If at every stage there are lessons to be learned, these lessons are that we must be even more rigorous and effective. To take an example: the European Parliament must now adopt the much talked-about PNR [Passenger Name Record], which has been announced time and again, to provide information about air passengers. Clearly there must be no further delay, no more explanations. In my opinion the vote has to be held in the next few days.

What’s also clear is that coordination between states – the exchange of information and intelligence – is more necessary than ever. If lessons are to be learned, these are the ones, but everyone must learn them – Europeans and Americans alike. I think the important thing is to be mobilized, stand together and be effective.

Q. – Mrs Clinton goes as far as accusing the European banks of financing terrorism…

THE MINISTER – Decisions were taken to combat the financing of terrorism. These decisions were taken at European level. They must be implemented worldwide too. Incidentally, this is one of the items on the agenda of the G7 ministerial meeting, to be held in Hiroshima some time in April. I also had a meeting with my Japanese counterpart a few days ago. This is part of the fight against terrorism.

Let me take an example: establishing a national government in Libya is more necessary than ever. What for? Among other things, to control the central bank and assets from oil production to make sure it doesn’t all go to financing Daesh [so-called ISIL].

So this isn’t just a battle for the Europeans or the Americans to fight; it’s a battle which must be fought by the whole of the free world, by all those who believe in freedom and democracy.

Where there are weaknesses, we must address them. Everyone has their own weaknesses and shortcomings, but what interests me is the goal. The goal is to go on fighting to protect our people in each of our countries, whatever continent we live on, and to do this we must continue to be uncompromising and resolved to fight all terrorism wherever it occurs – I’m thinking of Europe, but also other countries where it must be rooted out. This is the thrust of the battle against Daesh in Syria and Iraq.

Q. – Precisely, Mrs Clinton is asking the Europeans to bomb Syria and Iraq with their planes. This is already happening to combat Daesh in Syria and Iraq, so why this criticism, in your opinion? How can it be explained?

THE MINISTER – I don’t want to go into domestic policy considerations; every country has its elections. What I know is that France is committed, like many European countries. After 11 January and 13 November 2015, other countries made further commitments: I’m thinking of Germany, for example, of Britain and Belgium. We’re committed with our military forces in Syria and Iraq to fighting Daesh.

If more has to be done, let’s do it together, i.e. Europeans, Americans, Russians – in short, everyone who can take action with their military capabilities to destroy Daesh, because we must tackle the heart and roots of the problem. But we must also find political solutions in Syria. The ceasefire in Syria must now be permanent and, above all, we must find a political solution to restore Syrians’ unity and enable them to live freely in their country and so rebuild it. It’s one of our duties, as French, Europeans, Americans and Russians. And it’s this task we must devote all our energy to.

Q. – A final question: are the Americans, for their part, doing enough to help Europe fight terrorism?

THE MINISTER – I go by results. I think we can do better, all together, by committing ourselves even more. I think the best response will be to go one step further in strikes against Daesh.

Let me give you another example: do you think it’s acceptable for the conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine to continue, for no initiative to be taken? France took one. I’d like the peace process to get under way again and the Americans to be involved in it. What interests me is concrete [action], the result.
Everyone has efforts and, no doubt, progress to make, but what interests me is the goal. We must share this goal, that is, defend freedom, peace and security throughout the world./.

European Union

Replies by M. Manuel Valls, Prime Minister, to questions in the National Assembly (excerpts)

Paris, March 22, 2016


This morning Brussels, the heart of Europe, the seat of our European institutions, was struck by Islamist terrorism, by the unleashing of the ideology of death that afflicted our country in January and November 2015. Everyone fully understands that what’s been happening in Brussels for several days now is directly linked to what we experienced a few weeks ago. Europe, which has already been struck, is in mourning again. All our thoughts go to the very many victims and their families. I extend France’s wholehearted support to the Belgian people, who are our friends and neighbours. We stand with them, united in suffering in the face of the acts of war that have just occurred – because we are at war. Europe is at war, because Islamic State, Daesh, has declared war on it.

As the French President, I myself and the Foreign, Interior and Defence Ministers said on Saturday, the arrest of one individual and his accomplices is no reason to feel relieved. We know that it’s one step and the war goes on. We’re up against a terrorist organization with unprecedented firepower and with logistical organization on a scale never seen before – we must all bear in mind the number of individuals involved in organizing these attacks. It has its strongholds, its networks and its cells. It’s recruiting, mobilizing and indoctrinating in the very heart of our societies.

In the name of radical Islam and a totalitarian ideology, Daesh, but also branches of al-Qaeda – which are engaged in a kind of competition of terrorist violence – share a hatred of democracy. That’s why they’re striking on our soil. That’s why they’re striking in Europe, today in Belgium, recently in Tunisia, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, and again yesterday evening in Mali. France, Europe, Africa and the Middle East will again be targeted and struck. We must never lose sight of this certainty.
We must respond together with the greatest strength, the greatest determination and the greatest calm.


We’ll respond militarily with our armed forces deployed in Iraq, Syria and the Sahel.
We’re protecting French people on national territory. We’re living under the state of emergency and we’ve adopted legislation aimed at strengthening it. You’ve just adopted, here in the National Assembly, ladies and gentlemen deputies, a bill presented by the Keeper of the Seals aimed at strengthening the power of police, gendarmes and judges to take action. This very day, in view of the situation, the Interior Minister has sent the préfets [high-ranking civil servants who represent the state at the level of the department or region] a circular aimed at strengthening the security measures already in force. All this is in addition to the deployment of police, gendarmes and soldiers announced this morning by Bernard Cazeneuve with a view to strengthening all the mechanisms already deployed on our soil for months, such as border control.

We’re doing all this together. It’s one strength of our democracy that the majority and the opposition can face up to the terrorist threat together. We must also take action at European level, as you yourself, Mr President, and the Interior Minister, have recalled. Europe is under attack. So, contrary to what we sometimes hear, the response must also be European. Our area of freedom must also be an area of security. France will continue to pull all its weight, because this is an emergency, as the President, I myself and the Interior Minister constantly repeat. As for the PNR [Passenger Name Record], it’s due to be debated jointly with another subject at the European Parliament in April. I, in turn, say it’s time to adopt it. I say so in particular to the socialist and environmental groups in the European Parliament.

Everyone must shoulder their responsibilities. The government of France needs everyone’s support, particularly that of the European Parliament. We’ve wasted enough time on this issue. We must take action on stepping up border controls.

Finally, acting against the terrorist threat and eradicating jihadism will be a long-drawn-out battle, a battle against radicalization first of all. We’ve established an unprecedented detection, monitoring and handling mechanism at departmental level. But we’ll need time to flesh it out and develop it to prevent individuals from becoming radicalized. It’s no doubt a matter of several years, if not a generation.

The Interior Minister I have been working for many weeks to update the plan for combating terrorism and radicalization adopted in April 2004. The plan will be revised in the next month. (…)

Ladies and gentlemen deputies, a war has been declared on us, against what we are, against our values. In unity and respect for our law, with the greatest firmness and pride in being French, and while upholding these universal values, we must win this war, and we’re giving ourselves every means to do so. (…)

We had a meeting chaired by the President, in which the Interior, Defence and Foreign Ministers took part, to guarantee the security of our borders and of our transport infrastructure.

To date, 5,000 police and gendarmes have been mobilized to monitor our borders, first and foremost in the north. At these 220 checkpoints, 42 of which are permanent, six million individual checks have been carried out. These checks have already – and this illustrates the action of our security forces – enabled us to prevent 10,000 individuals from entering our country.

This operation will immediately be beefed up with an additional 1,600 police and gendarmes distributed among the different border crossing points and on air, rail and sea transport infrastructure.

As I’ve said – and as Bernard Cazeneuve has also emphasized –, we’ll continue our fight against terrorism at European level, because Europe, the Europe of freedoms and of the Schengen Area, must also be, for our compatriots, safe.

I want to stress two points. First of all, with the support of the vast majority of deputies and senators, which has never been expressed so widely – although it’s true we’ve never had to face such a significant threat –, we’ve never done so much to protect our compatriots.

I’m thinking in particular of the vote on two anti-terrorism bills, two bills focused on intelligence, of the examination (…) of the bill on criminal procedure, and of the additional resources allocated to the security forces, especially our armed forces.

This approach will have to continue over time: indeed, it’s not a matter for this five-year term alone. In the face of a threat that is going to last, this national effort to support our security forces, the justice system and the fight against radicalization will have to be made over the long term.

Finally, this is a battle for democracy and not a battle of West against East, or of Christians against Muslims, who today are the first victims of terrorism in the world.

The anonymous victims of Brussels and Paris are of all religions, all colours and all origins. So it’s a battle for democracy. And we must fight with the weapons of democracy, the strength of the rule of law, and the power and the conviction we possess, against the terrorism which is striking in Africa and the Middle East – including against our Israeli friends – and against ourselves.

We’ve entered into a war we must win because, quite simply, our fundamental identity is at stake.


Since 2012, as Interior Minister and today as Prime Minister, together with Bernard Cazeneuve, I’ve been playing an active role, with a single objective: the fight against terrorism.

In the summer of 2012, I addressed the Senate and the National Assembly during the presentation of the first counter-terrorism bill. We’d already all detected the phenomenon of Syrian and Iraqi networks which, over time, demonstrated to us the deep-seated evil afflicting us: young people, French or living in France – individuals who leave for Syria or Iraq and come back to France to kill their compatriots.

To tackle this threat – and this is unprecedented – we mobilized the state, our security forces and our armed forces, and we must continue.

To protect French people, together we passed two anti-terrorism bills, two intelligence bills, we set in motion the law on criminal procedure, which further strengthens the capabilities of the security forces and the justice system, and we decreed the state of emergency.

At this time, although we don’t yet know the number of dead and injured, and we don’t know whether the attacks involved any compatriots, I’d like us to make progress together, both now and in the future, including on measures like the one you propose. We’re ready to examine all measures that might be effective, in the framework of the rule of law which applies in our country and with due respect for our values.

We’ve also shown ourselves to be making progress on counter-terrorism laws and on the law reforming the code of criminal procedure, even though there was ultimately no constitutional reason – it wasn’t necessary to obtain a qualified majority or an identical vote [by the Senate and the National Assembly].

We considered, with the Justice Minister, that Senators Mercier and Bas’s bill substantially reflected what the government was proposing and what the National Assembly fleshed out. So we can move forward and look at this bill closely.

This afternoon, as we do every fortnight, several members of the government and I will have meetings with the assembly presidents, the chairmen of the relevant committees and the chairmen of the parliamentary groups to carry out a very detailed review of the threat status, which will be even more detailed following the terrible Brussels attacks.

The government is open to all proposals in order to move forward together, and we’ve demonstrated this. But at these moments, quite apart from the effectiveness of our security forces, our armed forces, the justice system and the fight against radicalization, symbols have importance. Given the threat posed by over 2,000 individuals involved in the Iraqi-Syrian networks and the thousands of individuals and young people who might become radicalized – which, in a way, tears up the Republican pact –, given this threat in the world, in Europe, in our country and our neighbourhoods which we discussed yesterday with the representatives of Islam, what’s the response?

It’s a long-term response, which has to include this good question: what does it mean to be French? How can we for one moment tolerate some of our compatriots turning against us and, in the name of an ideology, killing our compatriots and our values?

This question is for every one of you. Let’s move forward together on all these issues and not just one or two of them./.

Domestic security/Middle East/Africa

Interview given by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defense, to the daily newspaper Le Figaro (excerpts)

Paris, March 15, 2016

Q. – Four months after the 13 November attacks, what’s your assessment of domestic security?

THE MINISTER – We have short memories, as if the festive season had swept away the shock and the magnitude of what French people experienced. Since 13 November, we’ve foiled several planned attacks that could have been tragic. And the trauma of the attacks is still tangible. Twenty-three people wounded on 13 November are still in our military hospitals alone.

Q. – Some people doubt that the armed forces are really effective in combating terrorism on national territory…

THE MINISTER – Today there are more service personnel engaged on national territory than in external operations. That’s a significant fact because of the presence of those 10,000 troops in France. The threat we face has two new characteristics. Firstly, it’s become militarized. Secondly, it turns out that this militarized threat is the same inside and outside our borders. To fulfil their missions on these two fronts, the armed forces have specific and consubstantial strengths: their skills in combat, observation, deterrence and surprise.

We noted this at the time of the incident outside the mosque in Valence at the beginning of the year. The three soldiers from the 93rd Mountain Artillery Regiment of Varces (Isère) who were attacked opened fire. The rules are clear. When they act on national territory, the armed forces are under the Interior Minister’s leadership. The Defence Minister’s role is to ensure those forces are ready to fulfil their missions. Although there may have been a few misunderstandings initially, the situation is currently very clear. My relations with Bernard Cazeneuve are trustful and very professional.

Q. – Are the living conditions for service personnel in Operation Sentinelle now satisfactory?

THE MINISTER – Ninety per cent of the 6,500 service personnel deployed in Paris have been properly accommodated. It’s true we initially lacked sites for barracks. Specific benefits were created, roughly reflecting those enjoyed by staff on external operations. It also proved necessary to clarify the missions. Previously, the armed forces had two domestic security “postures”: one for air security and the other for maritime security. Four “postures” are going to be added: they relate to ground forces, cyberspace – this dimension has been greatly strengthened –, health and energy, the last of these enabling our armed forces to be supplied with fuel under all circumstances.

Q. – Since January 2015, 10,000 service personnel have been deployed in France. Is that sufficient?

THE MINISTER – As things currently stand, yes. The difficulty lies in the fact that Sentinelle is conducting its missions with personnel numbers as they were before the military estimates act was updated in July 2015. The President decided that the size of the operational ground force [with personnel capable of being effectively deployed on land] would increase from 66,000 to 77,000. In 2015, an additional 5,600 troops were recruited, and the same number will be recruited in 2016. But they have to be trained. Before they’re actually deployed on the ground, the troops [currently on the ground] are under some pressure. We’ll be more flexible from the summer onwards. Moreover, the number of reservists will increase from the current 28,000 to 40,000 in 2018. The aim is to have 1,000 reservists permanently present in Sentinelle. (…)./.

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