Have to admit there's a certain bitter irony in today' s headlines in France about an Islamic terrorist network being rounded up in Strasbourg, Paris, Nice and Cannes, at the same time as the TV news shows French forces beginning their withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Why the irony? Because while France has spent billions of Euros over the past ten years to battle the threat of radical Islam in Central Asia, they find once again the threat is homegrown, fostered in their own schools, decaying neighborhoods and prisons.
As I've written in previous blogs, It's got much more to do with economic stagnation, bleak job outlooks, mounting food prices -- in short, increasingly bitter frustration, particularly in the poorer suburbs of cities like Paris and Marseille.
Anger is particularly high among second and third generation Muslim youth. France's population of 5 million Muslims is Europe's largest, and, partially because of the woeful economic situation in this country, France has had a difficult time absorbing them.
Some of those outraged young people have turned to criminal activities -- from petty to violent. And one of the major areas where their conversion to violent jihad takes place is not so much in Central Asia's tribal provinces, but in overcrowded French prisons.
Further, a number of those who have espoused jihad, were not born Muslims at all, but are recent converts -- also proselytized in French prisons. That's the background of Jérémie Louis-Sidney, the 33 year old member of the terrorist gang who was gunned down after shooting at police attempting to arrest him last Saturday in Strasbourg.
It's the background of many -- perhaps all -- of the 12 supposed members of the "terrorist" ring currently being questioned by French police.
Bottom line, forget humanitarian interests. From the coldly pragmatic view of defeating radical Islam, the French would have been -- and still would be -- much better off deploying the billions of Euros they've squandered sending troops, planes and ships to Central Asia, deploying those funds back home where they really might make a difference.
It goes without saying, that so would the United States.
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