Patterns of Global Terrorism 2002 - France

France has provided outstanding military, judicial, and law-enforcement support to the war against terrorism. France made a significant military contribution to Operation Enduring Freedom, including some 4,200 military personnel supporting operations in Afghanistan. The Charles de Gaulle carrier battle group flew more than 2,000 air reconnaissance, strike, and electronic warfare missions over Afghanistan. France provided close air support to US and Coalition forces during Operation Anaconda.

French investigators cooperated in a joint investigation with the FBI of Richard Reid, the would-be "shoe bomber." In the 30-day period after Reid's arrest in December 2001, the FBI and the Paris Criminal Brigade maintained often twice-daily contact with US authorities and provided information that proved critical to building the criminal case against Reid. French authorities have continued aggressively to pursue leads related to the Reid case.

The French Government reached a compromise agreement with the United States to provide evidence gathered in the Zacarias Moussaoui case, despite domestic criticism.

The French judiciary continued to pursue domestic terrorism cases vigorously. A French court in October convicted and sentenced two Islamist terrorists to life in prison for their roles in a series of bombings of the Paris subway in 1995 that killed eight persons and wounded more than 200. In October, the Justice Ministry decided to add a fifth investigative magistrate to its specialized team of antiterrorist judges.

In November, French authorities arrested Slimane Khalfaoui, who is likely associated with the Meliani cell, a group of five individuals arrested in December 2000 and April 2001 for allegedly planning to attack the cathedral square in Strasbourg, France. Khalfaoui also is suspected of ties to Ahmad Ressam – the Algerian arrested in December 1999 at the US-Canadian border in an alleged plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport – and Rabah Kadri, an Islamic radical arrested in the United Kingdom for a plot to attack the London subway.

France continued to cooperate with Spain in dismantling Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), the Basque terrorist organization. In November, both countries signed a protocol granting Spanish counterterrorism officials enhanced access to French information obtained from arrested ETA members. In September, two principal ETA leaders, Juan Antonio Olarra and Ainhoa Mugica Goni, were arrested in a joint operation in Bordeaux. Olarra was linked to at least nine murders.

In October, France requested that the UNSCR 1267 Sanctions Committee add two North African terrorist groups operating in France – the Tunisian Combatant Group and the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group – to its consolidated list of individuals and entities associated with Usama Bin Ladin, al-Qaida, and the Taliban. The United States subsequently blocked the groups' assets under Executive Order 13224. Despite its generally cooperative stance against terrorism, France opposes listing Hizballah as a terrorist organization. France designates terrorist groups in concert with the EU. The EU has designated the "terrorist wing" of HAMAS but not the group as a whole, citing its political and social role in Lebanon.

France has become a party to 11 of the 12 international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism.

Terrorists attacked French interests or citizens several times in 2002. In April, two French citizens were killed in a suicide attack against a synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba. In May, a suicide bomber exploded a vehicle alongside a bus in Karachi, killing 14 persons, including 11 French engineers. Terrorists also attacked the Limburg, a French supertanker, off the coast of Yemen in October. The attack resulted in one casualty and caused an oil spill of 90,000 barrels into the Gulf of Aden. Four French nationals were killed and seven wounded in the bombing of a Bali nightclub in October. The Corsican National Liberation Front claimed responsibility for a string of nonlethal bombings in Paris and Marseilles in early May. There were multiple, nonlethal, unclaimed bombings on Corsica in November.

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