News / Europe

    France Deploys Special Forces as Terrorism Fears Grow

    Henry Ridgwell
    France has sent Special Forces to guard mines in Niger which supply most of the uranium for the French nuclear power industry. Back home, the government has increased the terror alert to its second-highest level, and has reinforced security at key government and tourist sites. There are fears of retaliation at home and abroad following France's intervention in Mali.
     
    A trickle of visitors is braving the icy Paris winter to ascend the 320 meters of the Eiffel Tower.  On the ground and on the levels above, armed troops patrol day and night.

    France has deployed more than 700 soldiers across the capital as fears grow over the potential for reprisals following the military intervention in Mali.

    Calls for retaliation

    An array of Islamic jihadi websites are calling for attacks on France, says Jean-Charles Brisard, a French terrorism expert and former chief investigator for the 9/11 families.

    “They are calling for retaliations in Africa, because they can carry them out in Africa - their own retaliation by these groups - but for France they’re calling for the emergence of new ‘Mohammed Merahs’ - that means they essentially are relying on home-grown terrorism," said Brisard.

    That has a deep resonance in France, just 10 months after three soldiers and four Jewish citizens were killed in a series of attacks in the southern city of Toulouse.  The gunman, French-born Mohammed Merah, said he was partly motivated by the presence of French soldiers in Afghanistan.

    Investigations suggested he was not a ‘lone wolf’ terrorist. Terror expert Jean-Charles Brisard says several active networks have direct links to the Sahel.

    “About 30 terrorism cells here in France, supporting financially or materially, or recruiting for Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb," he said. "That means we know they have relays - they had in the past but we know they still have relays here in France, in the radical Islamic community. Those individuals are under surveillance.”

    Increasing security measures

    Security is also being stepped up on metro and rail services in Paris. Terror attacks in London in 2005 and Madrid in 2004 targeted the cities’ public transport systems.
    Most residents appear reassured that the authorities will keep them safe.

    “I’m not worried, I think that France is ready to resist by itself," said one.

    “You must be careful of course, but I think what the French military is doing in Mali is good for humanity, good for the world," said another.

    With tight security at home, experts say the most vulnerable targets are French and Western interests in Africa.

    Guarding natural resources

    The attack by Islamic militants on the Ain Amenas gas plant in Algeria last week resulted in the deaths of at least 37 foreign workers.

    In addition to the 2500 troops being sent to Mali, France has deployed Special Forces to protect uranium mines in Niger. Damien Helly is a visiting professor at the College of Europe.

    “[A large amount] of France’s electricity is dependent on uranium from the Sahel," said Helly. "And subsequently, a large part of European growth is dependent on the health of the French economy. So there is a clear link if you want between French and European interests in this region. All this combined together made the case for an intervention.”

    Despite the government warning of an increased risk of terrorism, recent polls show 65 percent of French people back the military intervention in Mali. For most Parisians - and tourists - it appears it is business as usual.

    * An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that 20 percent of France's electricity is dependent on uranium from the Sahel. VOA regrets the error.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
    January 25, 2013 9:36 PM
    It is really hard to understand as to why terrorist communication systems are allowed to run? Western nations spend billions upon billions of dollars anually, and collectively trillions, yet they can't get their act together to setup a media team, which continuosly monitors and shuts down such C4 terrorist sites. It boggles the mind wrt the thinking on this issue.... All these "interesting" Western politicians, use the war on terror as an election prop, but they do not appear to understand the word "war". Why are they not allocating resources to promptly disable these network nodes? It is one of the basic fundamentals of "war", that enemy C4 must be disrupted/disabled. The gvmt of China does a great job of keeping anti-gvmt elements of its nets; can the West learn a bit? Or these politicians are just grand-standing about this "war on Terror", and do not see the consequences of allowing the terrorist to use these networks? Hire the guys from annonymous...

    by: Hasan from: France
    January 25, 2013 9:11 PM
    French "special forces..."??? what is that, some sort of a joke?? you are fighting Islam in Africa while Muslimes have inundated your country... hey, how does "multiculturalism" work for you..??? not so good... i guess...

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora