Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014

Read more

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

  • EU leaders choose Tusk and Mogherini for top jobs, discuss Russia sanctions

    Read more

  • Dozens of UN peacekeepers still held by Syrian jihadists

    Read more

  • Opposition protesters clash with Pakistani police outside PM's house

    Read more

  • Austerity row overshadows French Socialist’s annual rally

    Read more

  • Egypt sentences Brotherhood leader Badie to life

    Read more

  • Ceasfire allows Gaza families to relax on the beach

    Read more

  • S. Africa condemns 'military coup' in Lesotho

    Read more

  • Kerry calls for 'coalition of nations' to battle IS militants

    Read more

  • Ukrainian plane with seven on board crashes in Algeria

    Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns Russia of more sanctions

    Read more

  • IMF backs Lagarde amid French corruption probe

    Read more

  • Ebola drug ‘ZMapp’ heals all monkeys in study

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • Suriname leader’s son pleads guilty to courting Hezbollah

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

Africa

French anti-terror judge says ‘no choice’ but war in Mali

© AFP

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2013-01-15

A leading French judge who specialises in anti-terror investigations says France has no choice but to take the fight to Islamists in Mali – or risk allowing the region to become a training ground for terrorists wanting to attack France itself.

France’s top anti-terrorist investigating judge has warned that an Islamist-controlled northern Mali is a dangerous potential training ground for jihadists wanting to launch attacks against France - and that they "must be stopped".

Marc Trévidic, 47, told left-leaning daily Libération on Tuesday that while taking the fight to al Qaeda-linked Malian extremists made France an “ever more obvious target” for terror attacks, “we don’t have any choice but to go to war”.

France launched Operation Serval on Friday against the Islamists now controlling northern Mali; its main aim to stop the rebels moving south towards the capital Bamako.

As Libération published excerpts from his book “Terrorists: the seven pillars of folly”, Trévidic explained that Mali, a former French colony, was the most easily accessible and attractive destination for would-be terrorists with their eyes on French targets.

“I’m not a warmonger, but if 2,000 or 3,000 jihadists were able to install themselves in Bamako there would be very little we could do to be able to dislodge them," he said.

“Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) wants to paint France as aggressors – but the group have nevertheless been central to a number of kidnappings of French citizens and is constantly making threats against France. They have to be stopped.”

AQIM is one of the more significant Islamist groups operating in Mali.

Together with other rebel groups they ousted separatist Tuareg tribesmen who had taken advantage of a military coup in Bamako in early 2012 to launch an offensive.

The Islamists have since established strict Islamic Sharia law in northern Mali, a vast desert region the size of France, a land of ancient caravan routes that is notorious for drugs and arms smuggling as well as kidnappings and ransom.

AQIM leader Abdelmalek Droukdel, who is Algerian, has been threatening attacks on French soil for the last three years, something it has been unable to do “because of a lack of organisation,” according to Trévidic. “We must absolutely not allow these groups to become powerful, established and structured.”

Comparing the threat to al Qaeda’s alliance with Afghanistan’s Taliban, he added: “Once they have solid control over their region, that’s when they can start exporting terror.

“The Taliban took power in Afghanistan in 1998 and allied themselves with al Qaeda, which was then able to launch attacks against embassies.

“Al Qaeda was then allowed to form alliances with local groups up until the 9/11 attacks. We must not make the same mistake with AQIM.”

Trévidic is well known in France for leading the investigations into the 1996 killing of seven French monks at the Tibhirine monastery in Algeria, as well as the 2002 murder of 14 people, including 11 French Naval engineers, in Karachi, Pakistan.

Since France’s operation in Mali began last Friday, there has been a high visibility of armed French soldiers at train stations and national monuments.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said France was well aware of the dangers of terror attacks, but believed the threat posed by the advance of the militant Islamist fighters into southern Mali was far greater.

On Monday, the rebels from the Sahel desert region that includes Mali said France had “opened the gates of hell” and threatened retribution.

 

Date created : 2013-01-15

  • MALI - FRANCE

    Mali-based Islamists pledge attacks on French soil

    Read more

  • MALI - FRANCE

    France orders tighter security in wake of Mali operation

    Read more

  • MALI - FRANCE

    French pilot dies in Mali military operation

    Read more

COMMENT(S)