France was affected by Islamist attacks in 1986 and 1995 and that led us to respond politically and legally. This was followed with interest abroad. Our specificity is triple: firstly, the strategic choice of a preventive legal neutralization of terrorist groups; then the specialization of magistrates both judges and prosecutors, who can charge suspects of associating with criminals linked to a terrorist sector, and lastly, the double nature of the DST - an intelligence service that belongs to the national police and is empowered with judicial capacity.
The DST interrogated 58 persons in 2002, 41 in 2003, 76 in 2004 and is getting on to 55 this year. The intensification of our actions during the last few months reflects the mutation of the international Jihad. Danger grows: the Islamist Moroccan Combatant Group’s activists or those of the Iraqi branches have joined the Bosnian, Afghan or Chechen branches. Various individual classes mean danger, that is, trained Jihadists or those who have fought in Bosnia, Afghanistan or Chechnya, and young men without any combat experience or reference, but who have become more radical and are willing to participate in the Jihad. In Paris 19th District, we have seen young men really determined to go and fight in Iraq. Five French citizens have died in a suicide attack. Regarding the 9/11 Saudis, the French Jihadist is more rustic, younger but more radical and committed than a few years ago. The easy way in which these young men can be indoctrinated is of concern. However, I don’t think that terrorist groups could have the possibility of using bio-terrorist techniques at a massive scale. Nevertheless, their unsophisticated use would be enough to generate panic.
We still keep in prison the French detainees from Guantanamo, because they were resolute enough to become dangerous. We considered that their preventive arrest was necessary. If the French don’t get offended by this is because they trust us. We are bound to take measures in the face of an active threat with international ramifications, but our system is thoroughly democratic and the rights are guaranteed. Our answer was legal, not military. To consider the anti-terrorist fight as a war increases the risks since it is to acknowledge and give the terrorist an additional echo. Likewise, there is no need to yield to the temptations of these days and authorize torture.
In the European way, we have used methods that improve the procedures, that is, European arrest orders, freezing of assets, and so forth. But this system can be further improved. This is one of the White Book’s objectives launched by the Minister of the Interior, which will establish the strategic guidelines for the anti-terrorist fight.

Le Monde (France)

« The French Jihadist is More Rustic, Younger, and More Radical », by Pierre de Bousquet, Le Monde, May 25, 2005. Text adapted from an interview.