Vive la France!

In yet another installment written by the allies Americans love to hate (and vice versa), seven men were convicted in a French court on terrorism charges stemming from their (successful?) efforts to recruit Muslim Frenchmen to fight against U.S. forces in Iraq. 

Judge Jacqueline Rebeyrotte handed down the sentences that ranged from 18 months to seven years to the five Frenchmen, one Algerian, and one Moroccan. Though all admit to being in Iraq post-2003, each denied any terrorist dealings. (And who would admit to hangin’ with terrorists, except for maybe Sept. 11, 2001, attack meanie Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, or KSM to his GITMO friends?) The seven were found guilty of “criminal association with a terrorist enterprise” and had been recruiting in northeastern Paris in 2004 (though this is not the image of Paris most Americans have). Our guess is they did not have a store-front set-up in a Parisian strip mall. 

On the up side, this terrorist group was broken up in 2005, which bodes well for terror-cell bashers. On the negative side — and one which seems to cause some concern — the plight of the Muslims in France (and other Western European locales), whose situation has been less than ideal. (Remember that whole ban-the-headscarf thing?) As steeped in irony as the recruitment of anti-U.S. fighters in France might be, the available pool of freedom fighters might stem more from an impoverished Muslim population than outright hatred of the U.S. Suicide mission? God trumps the Paris slums almost every time. 

According to reports, estimates of French Muslims who have made their way to Iraq to fight vary between less than 20 up to 60. (Can anyone really be certain of the number?) Those susceptible to the tactics and rhetoric of the Paris Seven is a small percentage, probably similar to other disaffected groups. Could this become a problem? Possibly. At this point hysteria and the hourly dose of “Spot the Terrorist” courtesy of mainstream media, cable wags, fringe groups, and, yes, government entities (gasp!) can make this object d’ interest appear to be a genuine issue.

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