Since 2014 France has suffered 20 terrorist-attacks by Jihadists. With the attacks in Carcassonne and Trebes 245 individuals have been killed and hundreds wounded.
As have been the case in several other incidents, the perpetrator in the latest attack – Redouane Lakdim – was known to the Police and was placed on the so-called “Fiche S-list”, a list of individuals suspected of being radicalized (or in the process) but not having actually conducted a terrorist-attack yet.
There are some general conclusions that can be drawn from this latest Jihadist-attack in France. First is the fact that this kind of terrorism is probably here to stay for some time yet. There are very few signs that this kind of violence will necessarily diminish with the demise of the Islamic State. On the contrary, as volunteers are returning home from Syria and Iraq, there will be a new cadre of radicalized Islamists ready to do battle.
Also, France itself has suffered more attacks than any other European country. There are a number of reasons for this, among them the fact that France have had more volunteers going off to fight with Islamists in Iraq and Syria, than any other. Also the fact that the radicalization of Islam has been very obvious in France, but for a long time was met with a denial by authorities that this had anything to do with Islam (the French term for this is: “rien á-voirism” or “nothing-to-do-ism”).
Another lesson to be drawn is that no matter how good the Intelligence- and security services may be (and the French ones are very good), if the number of suspects rise above a certain number, there is simply no way to keep tabs on everybody. Even when an individual is under surveillance or put on the notification-list, they might slip under the radar, as was the case with Mr. Lakdimi.
Since 2014, and especially since January 2015 with the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine, France has stepped up its anti-terror and CT-work, and signs are that stricter citizenship-laws are considered making it easier to strip individuals of their citizenship and to deport them.
That is in the cards in other European countries as well, and the example often cited is the Italian one where tougher laws are already on the books and where deportations are an integral part of the CT-policy. Experts cite that as among the most important tools to explain why Italy, as opposed to France, has not experienced the same level of Jihadist violence. Laws from the days of fighting the Italian mafia, restrictive citizenship-laws, deportation and a quick and streamlined process of dealing with Islamic radicalization, are all reasons for Italy’s comparatively successful fight against terrorism. That France and other countries in Europe are mulling similar measures is therefore no surprise.