France in the firing line of ‘new jihad’

France is enemy number one for the jihadists in North Africa, according to one of the country’s leading counter-terrorist judges.

France stepped up internal security measures following its action in Mali

Marc Trevidic told the BBC that jihadists had already been heading out to Mali and that French intervention would heighten the risk of lone wolf attacks in France.

However, he said the deployment of the French military was necessary to counter the dangers from Mali falling into the hands of extremists.

As a counter-terrorist judge, Marc Trevidic directs police and security service investigations into terrorist activity, building the cases against those to be prosecuted. It gives him a unique vantage point into recent events in North Africa.

Struggle for dominance

The ambition of the operation against the Algerian gas facility was a surprise, he says, but not the identity of the man behind the attack.

Mokhtar Belmokhtar has been on the radar of the French authorities for many years.

“He tried to recruit many French citizens in the past to make bomb attacks in France. So we have cases in connections with him,” Mr Trevidic says.

He says that Belmokhtar’s group only numbered 200-300 in 2003 but it has grown in wealth and influence thanks to trafficking and ransoms derived from kidnaps, allowing it to buy allies as well as arms.

Mokhtar Belmokhtar has previously tried to recruit French nationals, Mr Trevidic says


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