Friday, November 20, 2015

Reality Check: France Not Leading From Behind Against Terror

The U.S. should support Hollande if he triggers NATO Article 5
‘Strategic patience” is how the Obama Administration describes its approach to national security, based on its view that time is on our side in dealing with threats such as Islamic State (ISIS). “We cannot afford to be buffeted by alarmism in a nearly instantaneous news cycle,” National Security Adviser Susan Rice said in February. We doubt French President François Hollande agrees.
French security forces Wednesday conducted hundreds of antiterror raids and placed more than 100 suspects under house arrest. Police fought a gun battle in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, which ended when a terrorist detonated her suicide vest. The Paris prosecutor said Thursday that Belgian-born Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged mastermind of Friday’s massacre, was among those killed in the raid.
Meanwhile, security forces found a weapons cache in the city of Lyon that included Kalashnikov rifles and a rocket launcher. On Tuesday German authorities evacuated a soccer stadium in Hanover based on a “concrete indication about a concrete danger,” according to the state premier of Lower Saxony. Paris-bound flights have been diverted following bomb threats and France-bound jihadists have been arrested as far as Moldova.
Such threats are a reminder that the urgency of French antiterror actions is less about revenge than the pressing need to prevent another attack. Europe was fortunate earlier this year when a police raid in Belgium prevented an imminent terrorist attack, and again in August when three Americans and a Briton prevented a jihadist from opening fire on a high-speed train.
But luck runs out, especially when you treat terrorism largely as a matter for cops and courts. ISIS was able to conduct three mass-casualty attacks in three countries in less than three weeks and is threatening more attacks elsewhere. France has some 11,500 names on government watch lists. Many are likely to be detained under the three-month state of emergency that Mr. Hollande declared after Friday’s attacks, but authorities can’t track them all.
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