French officials: 1,000 citizens involved in jihad in Iraq, Syria

Police investigating Paris man threatening to kill Jews.

By JOSEPH STRICH, JTA, REUTERS
October 1, 2014 01:09
3 minute read.
US airstrikes in Syria

Rubble from US air strike in Syria's Idlib province. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Almost 1,000 French nationals are somehow involved in the jihad fight in Syria and Iraq, according to a French report quoted by the local media. The report, qualified as “recent” and “parliamentary,” has been presented to the National Assembly.

According to the report, 950 French citizens are involved in jihad, with some 350 fighting, 150 “in transit”, and 220 people who expressed the will to go fight in the Middle East.

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But Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve gave slightly different numbers in an interview to the magazine Le Journal du Dimanche last Sunday, and said there were 930 persons involved, including some 350 in the field, among them 60 women.

In a radio interview, the minister said on Tuesday that the number had grown by 74 percent, to about 1,000 people. According Cazeneuve, these number justify the tough new anti-terrorist measures adopted by the parliament.

Interviewed Wednesday by television channel France 2, he said: “yes, we take the [necessary] measures since there is a real threat over our country. There is a risk and we must face it.”

France was the first country to join US air strikes against Islamic State extremists and has increased its monitoring of French nationals suspected of joining them.

Meanwhile, French police opened a criminal investigation against a young man who spoke of killing Jews in a televised interview.



Yves Jannier, the prosecutor of the northern Paris suburb of Pontoise, ordered the probe Monday following the airing last week by France 2 of an interview with a young man about the Jews of the nearby Parisian suburb of Sarcelles, Le Parisien reported Monday.

The man, who was not named, is seen standing with friends on the street and answering the questions posed by a journalist for France 2.

“I have rage against the Jews. What they are doing over there in Palestine, we are doing here to the Jews. And if we get real angry, we might just kill them,” the man said.

“If I get angry, I will light up all of them, all the Jews,” the young man said.

The interview was part of a 46-minute special program on the Jewish community of Sarcelles, a poor suburb where 60,000 Jews live amid a dominantly Muslim population.

He is suspected of justifying a crime and “incitement to hate and violence” against an ethnic group, Le Parisien reported.

On July 20, riot police prevented approximately 150 participants of an unauthorized protest rally against Israel’s actions in Gaza from reaching the main synagogue of Sarcelles. Some rioters then burned one store and smashed the windows of another seven shops. A nearby synagogue was hit by firebombs.

Last week, the Correctional Tribunal of Strasbourg in eastern France sentenced a woman to three months in jail for insulting a Jew she saw on a bus. The woman called the man “dirty Jew,” removed his kippa and assaulted the bus driver after he tried to remove her from the vehicle, according to the news website 20min.ch.

On Tuesday, the UN aid chief warned that tens of thousands more Syrians could be forced to flee their war-torn homeland if Islamic State fighters continue gaining ground.

Valerie Amos told the UN Security Council that recent advances by Islamic State in northern Aleppo had forced more than 160,000 people, mostly women and children, to escape across the border into Turkey in just a few days.

“Their fear was so great that many people crossed heavily mined fields to seek refuge,” Amos told the 15-member council. “There is a possibility that tens of thousands more people could be forced out of Syria if ISIL [Islamic] forces continue to gain ground.”

About 11 million people in Syria – half the population – need help, with 6.4 million internally displaced; another 3 million are believed to have fled the country, Amos said. She added that the actual number of refugees is likely to be much higher.

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