Wikileaks parle des prisons, de la Courneuve, des discriminations en 2005

Wikileaks s'est penché sur le sort de la France face à l'Islam. On y découvre nos pratiques de renseignement qui chargent des gens sans preuve. On y voit des activités dans les prisons en 2005. Et la réalité des bibles brulées, des sapins détruits lors de Noel. On y voit aussi les discrimination. On y lit la Courneuve et on y nomme des jeunes engagés... Oui, l'administration américain flique bien notre pays et dans le détail. Tout cela est en ligne évidemment. C'est deja sur la Toile et on ne parlera seulement dans le Monde que des noms d'oiseaux de Sarkozy, de Merkel... Wikileaks c'est aussi notre miroir, celui de notre société, de notre monde et de pantins à la tete de nos gouvernements... des irresponsables pour qui certains ont voté. Oui, autre bombe, Wikileaks dit que 50% des prisonniers sont de confession musulmane... on fiche visiblement notre pays en terme d'ethnie... à part cela vive la diplomatie américaine...

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SUBJECT: PUTTING OUT BRUSHFIRES: FRANCE AND ISLAMIC

EXTREMISM

REF: A. STATE 144222

¶1. (C) Summary: Through surveillance, arrests and other

methods, the GOF prevents or puts out brushfires of Islamic

extremism on an almost daily basis, and has been doing so for

decades. According to recent press reports, the RG, France's

police intelligence service, estimates that 6 million Muslims

live in France, approximately 10 percent of the population.

The RG estimates that approximately 9,000 of them might be

extremist. These numbers, coupled with a widespread

recognition that France continues to struggle mightily to

integrate its immigrant/Muslim population, provide a sober

counterpoint to the past success and unquestionable

capabilities of the counter-terrorism apparatus. Although in

the short and medium-term, France clearly can rely on its

police, security and judicial services to aggressively combat

terrorism, in the long-term it must focus on giving a place

to Muslims (be they first-generation immigrants, their

second- and third-generation children, or the growing number

of converts) in the French identity. End summary.

THE POTENTIAL OF ISLAMIC EXTREMISM

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¶2. (C) In the Muslim community of some six million, 70

percent are estimated to be of North African (Algeria,

Morocco, and Tunisia) origin. Other sizable groups include

Turks and Pakistanis. Within this overall population, the RG

estimates (according to recent press reports) that roughly

9,000 could be considered extremist, or, just over one-tenth

of one percent. The RG also estimated that of the 1,500

mosques and prayer halls in France, fewer than 40 were

considered extremist. GOF officials routinely claim that 90

percent of French Muslims are non-practicing. Among the

minority of French Muslims considered "practicing," there is

a small but distinct current of fundamentalist thought. On

August 5, xxx toured a number of Islamic bookshops in

Paris, and found that the literature extolled strongly

conservative views on the role of Muslim women and also

included numerous guides (in French) of how to pray. The

bookstores did not present any moderate alternatives to

conservative dogma.

¶3. (U) Two specific sources of Islamic extremism are of

special interest. First is the French prison system, with a

population that is estimated at over 50 percent Muslim.

According to another leaked RG report from May 2005, Islamic

extremism here is growing in popularity, with scattered

reports of prisoners hanging up posters of Bin Laden,

destroying Christmas trees and bibles, and cries of joy at

the news of American soldiers killed in Iraq or suicide

bombings in Israel. It is often the shock of prison,

detailed the RG report, that transforms petty criminals into

Islamic extremists. The shortage of Muslim chaplains in

French prisons fuels potential for extremist ideologies to

spread unabated. Radicalized prisoners, once released, are

"time bombs," said the RG report. It estimated that within

the prison system, 200 inmates "merit attention," and 95 of

these should be considered "dangerous." A second source of

Islamic extremism is the growing number of conversions to

radical Islam by European-origin French citizens. In a

report submitted to Interior Minister Sarkozy in June, the RG

profiled new French converts to Islam, and found that most

were young males in urban areas and/or in areas largely

populated by those of North African descent. Of those

converts profiled, the RG reported 49 percent did not have

any diploma, and a full 44 percent opted for Salafist or

Tabligh-inspired versions of fundamentalist Islam. The

unemployment rate among new converts of European-French

origin is five times the national average, according to the

RG report. More than ten percent of the new converts had

discovered Islam in prison. The RG report also revealed that

approximately 3.5 percent of the French military, including

officers, had converted to Islam. (Note: Although this is a

striking statistic, many military converts have presumably

done so in order to marry Muslims, and not necessarily for

ideological reasons. End note.)

FRANCE'S LONG HISTORY WITH ISLAMIC EXTREMISM

--------------------------------------------

¶4. (S) The sheer number of recent "terrorism conspiracy"

arrests in France involving Islamic extremists underscores

the GOF's counter-terrorism challenges. Since 2002, it has

arrested 322 people linked to terrorism, of whom 91 were

charged and imprisoned. Islamic extremist violence has

struck France in the past, especially Paris. A year after a

failed hijacking attempt of an Air France jet in 1994, the

Algerian terrorist group GIA conducted a wave of bombings in

Paris subway stations and landmarks, killing 8 and wounding

over 200. Spillover from Maghreb-based Islamic extremists

continues to this day, with the Algerian-based GSPC group and

the Moroccan-based GICM group both present covertly on French

soil. Furthermore, French intelligence believes that the

GSPC has increasingly taken on the goals of worldwide

jihadism and is seeking to position itself as a complement to

al-Qaida. A terrorism investigating judge told us recently

that the GSPC is expanding its reach in France, and is

working to take advantage of old connections within the

well-organized Algerian community. As for the GICM, French

judiciary officials told us that those arrested in 2004 were

frighteningly professional and maintain to this day a strict

discipline when interrogated (ref D). (Comment: The GOF

prides itself on its ability to keep tabs on extremist

groups; their discovery of the GICM cell shocked them because

they had stumbled upon it by chance, further evidence of the

GICM group's operational security. End comment.)

¶5. (S) France has also seen Islamic extremist cells appear

with seemingly little to no support from terrorist

organizations such as the GICM and the GSPC. One example is

the eleven "jihadists to Iraq" arrested in January in Paris'

19th arrondissement. Those involved were arrested days

before leaving for Iraq. The DST told USG interlocutors (ref

E) that the suspected ringleader, 23-year old xxxxx

had never studied theology but by force of

personality, had managed within a few months to convince a

group of teenagers to fight jihad in Iraq. One example that

demonstrates the fluid interconnectedness of many Islamic

extremists was revealed during the trial of xxxxxxx

and xxxxxx, two French citizens convicted and

sentenced in 2004 for organizing recruitment networks for

terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. xxxx and

xxxxxx (who converted at the age of 27 to fundamentalist

Islam) have been linked to members of the Beghal network that

were convicted in March 2005 of plotting to bomb the U.S.

Embassy in Paris (ref F). They have also been linked to

extremist circles in the UK. Members of the Beghal network

are suspected of having ties with (among others) members of

the "Chechen" network (a loose grouping of individuals from

Lyon that attempted to develop chemical agents to commit

terrorist attacks), the "Frankfurt" network (which attempted

in 2000 to attack cultural sites in Strasbourg), and Lionel

Dumont, a member of the Islamic extremist "Roubaix gang" that

in the late 1990s terrorized the north of France. Dumont

spent a number of years in Japan, and is suspected of

building links there to Islamic extremism. In short, Islamic

political extremism in France takes on many forms: it has

bubbled up on its own, in cooperation with other autonomous

groups, and also in cooperation with al-Qaida linked groups

such as the GSPC.

¶6. (SBU) Islamic extremism is connected in the public mind to

the poor suburbs outside of major French cities, especially

Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg and Marseilles. However, pockets of

low-income housing are scattered throughout France, and

recent arrests in Grenoble, a medium-sized university town in

the southeast, and Lorraine, a region near the French-German

border, illustrate the fact that Islamic extremism is not

confined to the suburbs of France's largest cities. French

residents and citizens of North African extraction are

scattered throughout France. The Turkish community is based

largely in Paris and in eastern France, and the Pakistani

community is based almost exclusively in the Paris

metropolitan area.

THE GOVERNMENT AS FIREFIGHTER

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¶7. (SBU) Although attention since the July bombings in London

and Sharm el-Sheikh is on new enforcement and security

initiatives, the GOF continues its work to integrate the

Muslim community into what is still a historically Catholic

country. High-profile Muslims in government, politics and

culture are relatively rare, and in general, Muslims are

underrepresented in positions of power. The GOF reached back

into its history of dealing with other religious/ethnic

communities when in 2003 it created the Council for the

Muslim Faith (CFCM), an umbrella organization of various

Muslim groups which serves as the official French Muslim

interlocutor with the government on a range of

civil-religious issues, including mosque construction. The

CFCM includes a broad brush of Muslim groups, including the

fundamentalist-leaning UOIF (considered by some to have links

to the Muslim Brotherhood), the FMNF (also considered

fundamentalist, but backed by the Moroccan government), and

the Tabligh (an ultra-orthodox Pakistani origin group

described as a way-station for some French jihadists). GOF

officials also point out that around 40 percent of French

mosques are not CFCM-affiliated. Moreover, the CFCM is

riddled with internal conflict (ref C), and for many who

espouse a highly fundamentalist worldview, it is considered

too close to the GOF.

¶8. (U) Another GOF initiative to spur the growth of a

moderate, France-centric Islam is to encourage imams to speak

French and learn more about French culture. More than half

of the imams in France either do not speak French or speak it

very poorly. In addition, less than 20 percent have French

nationality. New immigration policies stipulate that those

wishing to attain French citizenship must receive a GOF

certification of French fluency. Although this new policy

does not specifically target imams, their participation is

encouraged. A similar initiative, proposed by PM Villepin

when he was Interior Minister, has been stymied. Villepin

said he would push French universities to inaugurate specific

courses for imams on French culture. Only the Sorbonne

university evinced any interest, although it finally

announced in early August that it would not proceed with the

imam program because it ran counter to the principles of

secularism.

ALTHOUGH CONFIDENT IN ITS "OFFENSIVE" C/T STRATEGY, FRANCE

STILL STRUGGLES WITH INTEGRATION

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¶9. (U) Notwithstanding the recent spurt of GOF

counter-terrorism proposals (ref B), the French government

and media generally believe the GOF's method of fighting

Islamic extremism works well. A July 12 article in Le Figaro

outlined the two basic approaches, France's "offensive"

strategy and the UK's "communitarian" strategy. Louis

Caprioli, former head of the DST's counter-terrorism bureau

(the DST is France's internal security service), said the

French strategy emphasizes total cooperation between the

security/police services and the specialized

counter-terrorism judiciary. This allows for constant

surveillance of suspects and a focus on maximum disturbance

of Islamic extremists, hence the "offensive" nature of the

strategy. Alain Chouet, former head of the DGSE (France's

external intelligence service), added that the presence of

the RG throughout French territory allows for "permanent

surveillance and penetration of problematic communities."

Furthermore, said Chouet, "It is hard to imagine the

Anglo-Saxon countries imitating our harassment tactics, which

sometimes take place without any real proof of wrongdoing."

(Comment: There is undoubtedly a whiff of traditional Gallic

competitiveness regarding the "Anglo-Saxons" in these

comparisons of counter-terrorism models. Of all those

calling for additional C/T proposals in France following the

July attacks, only the unabashedly pro-Anglo-Saxon Sarkozy

pointedly said France had something to learn from the British

public transport surveillance system. End comment)

¶10. (U) Although most believe the GOF's "offensive"

counter-terrorism approach has been successful, many consider

that the GOF has failed in its quest to integrate those in

the Stories abound of the young, born in

our 'cites,' that incomprehensibly swung from complete

integration to The Muslim community in

France...is massively excluded at the social and economic

level, and is accustomed to a sense of humiliation. These

youth, whose first or last names become obstacles to finding

work, do not have a past or a feeling of belonging to a land,

and have absolutely no future. It is not necessary to invent

a James Bond of Islamist extremism. You only need people who

can be manipulated with a simplistic ideology."

¶11. (SBU) xxxx recently visited the northern Paris suburb

of La Courneuve, which has recently become a living metaphor

for violence and Islamic extremism in France. Interior

Minister Sarkozy visited La Courneuve several times over the

past months, and has vowed to make it an example of his new

efforts to foster integration. Members of the "Chechen"

network (see para 6) were arrested there in 2002 with

explosive material and the chemical agent ricin. Originally

a small town independent from Paris, La Courneuve now

features many large HLM (low-income housing projects). The

streets are relatively wide and empty, with little

street-level commerce aside from government services and

larger supermarkets. No one background dominated and we saw

no visible signs of an Islamic presence (we passed only one

synagogue and no mosques). The suburb did not feel

dangerous; instead it seemed more bleak and deserted than

anything else, as if everybody was inside their apartments or

out of town. Satellite dishes sprouted from many apartments.

The presence of planters with flowers and tree-lined

sidewalks gave the impression of a municipal government

trying to improve the area. Indeed, the local government's

slogan was "La Courneuve is inventing another future for

itself." Overall, and despite its terrible reputation, La

Courneuve looked to be a modest, multicultural place. Its

appearance confirmed what statistics report: the overwhelming

majority of Muslims in France (whether from Africa, the

Maghreb, or the newly converted) are moderate. The problem

lies with the one or two apartments that harbor Islamic

extremists hidden within the tens of thousands that do not.

¶12. (C) Comment: As is widely recognized, the GOF wields a

muscular and effective counter-terrorism apparatus that

identifies potential terrorists and thwarts potential

terrorist operations. Although there is always room for

improvement, the GOF appears to have done what it can in the

short- and medium-term to combat Islamic extremism. Over the

long-term, however, much work needs to be done. France does

not only have an integration/immigration problem; it must

also work to give a place to Muslims in the French identity.

Despite claims that its commitment to secularism nullifies

prejudice against any religion, it is an open secret that

historically Catholic France has heretofore failed to muster

sufficient will and understanding to truly accept Muslims as

French citizens. Although Islamic extremism may never

completely disappear from France, acceptance of Muslims as

full, participating members of French society will go a long

way to minimizing its reach .

Le Club est l'espace de libre expression des abonnés de Mediapart. Ses contenus n'engagent pas la rédaction.