PARIS - President Francois Hollande is pushing hard for military action against al-Qaida-linked militants in northern Mali to quash what he believes is a growing risk of them launching an attack on French soil.
"Hollande is convinced that there is a real risk of terrorism in France. The longer the situation in Mali lasts the greater the risk," said a French diplomatic source.
Mali's former colonial ruler fears al-Qaida's north African arm, AQIM, is cementing its base in the West African state, creating a launch pad from which to target French political and economic interests at home and abroad.
Mali descended into chaos in March when soldiers toppled the president, leaving a power vacuum that led to Islamist fighters, some allied with AQIM, seizing two-thirds of the country.
Complicating matters, AQIM has threatened to kill six French hostages it holds in the region if an attack is launched.
Jerusalem Post Annual Conference. Buy it now, Special offer. Come meet Israel's top leaders