French Extremists Were Headed For Syria

French authorities say a group of suspected radical French-born Islamists arrested in country-wide raids in recent days posed the biggest threat to the country since 1996 and were planning to join militants in war-torn Syria. According to the national news agency AFP, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins is to bring  attempted murder and terrorism charges against the seven suspects currently in detention.

Can democracy thrive in the “Arab Spring” states? (Credit: Intelligencesquared)

The prosecutor said  France had not witnessed such a dangerous threat since 1996 –  when  Algerian Islamists conducted a series of bombings in France at the height of an Algerian civil war. He added  the new group of suspects had wanted to join militant groups in Syria.

  • The issue of Islamist terrorism and its challenges to Western democracy are not diminishing and the uprisings of the Arab Spring may or may not further heighten tensions and troubles further.

The video below is a topical debate on the issue  hosted on the INTELLIGENCE SQUARED U.S. website and involving a quartet of US commentators on Islamic affairs: Reuel Marc Gerecht, Brian Katulis , Daniel Pipes and M. Zuhdi Jasser .


“The popular uprisings of the Arab Spring have left a leadership void that Islamist parties have been quick to fill. A longtime supporter of former strongmen like Egypt’s Mubarak and Tunisia’s Ben Ali, the U.S. now faces the uncomfortable result of Arab democracy—the rise of Islamist parties that are less amenable to the West than their autocratic predecessors. Will the Islamists, who once embraced violence, slowly liberalize as they face the difficulties of state leadership? Or will it mean the growth of anti-Americanism and radicalization in the region?”

Debate: Better elected Islamists than dictators , For the motion: Reuel Marc Gerecht, Brian Katulis; Against the motion: Daniel Pipes, M. Zuhdi Jasser.  Moderator: John Donvan  

The transcript of the debate is here in pdf 

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