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The French Terrorist and the New York Times

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French authorities have killed the terrorist, and there is a good chance we will never know how much French intelligence services knew about him before he went on his rampages. We are used to arrests of would-be attackers that are accompanied by the soothing disclaimer that “the public was never in danger,” but this case should stir authorities out of an inclination to wait-and-see when a killer has been to the Afghan/Pakistan training camps and back again.

There isn’t any reasonable doubt about the motivations of the killer. From the Washington Post:

Francois Molins, the chief Paris prosecutor heading the investigation, said Wednesday that the suspect told negotiators that he had carried out the killings in the southwestern cities of Toulouse and Montauban to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children killed by Israelis; challenge France’s military role in Afghanistan; and protest last year’s law banning Muslim women from wearing full-face veils on the street.

The Post report also included this key background:

Molins said Merah went to Afghanistan for the first time about eight years ago to receive military training and was captured by Afghan government police. After being turned over to the U.S. military, Molins said, he was put on a plane back to France. He traveled to Afghanistan a second time several years ago but fell ill and had to return.

The killer was a would-be jihadist from way back who has been arrested 15 times beginning as a juvenile punk and graduating to mass murder. Domestic intelligence has been tracking him for many years.

So the debate over what happened should be about the French government’s lassitude, but some are trying to make it about an anti-immigrant climate. Recall the aftermath of the Tucson shooting in which many were killed and Congressman Giffords shot. The press rushed off to blame conservatives and their rhetoric only to find out that the killer is insane and that the shootings had nothing to do with politics.

Well, in France, the political manipulation of the terrorism was directed at President Sarkozy, and the New York Times joined in, even before the killer was captured.

Yesterday’s Times had one of the dumbest bits of “analysis” ever to accompany an unfolding news story, a blatant attempt to take acts of Islamist terror and blame them on anti-immigration rhetoric.

‘[T]he political debate around the shootings, and whether the deaths of an instructor and three young children were somehow inspired by anti-immigrant political talk, is likely to continue,” Steven Erlanger wrote Wednesday’s paper “- both as a weapon in the presidential campaign and as a more general soul-searching about the nature of France.”

Erlanger comes at his point in a very round-about-fashion:

And in the middle of a long and heated presidential campaign, with President Nicolas Sarkozy trying to win back disaffected supporters who have drifted to the far-right National Front party, the shootings at Toulouse have raised new questions about the tone and tenor of the debate here about what it is to be French.

A debate on the role of immigration, assimilation, halal butchering, street prayers, the full veil and other elements of cultural difference is inevitably about French identity – and the nature of tolerance and intolerance. But it has mostly centered on Muslims, not Jews.

Fran?ois Bayrou is cited as the source of the absurd, in fact outrageous claim that the killing of French Jews by a Islamist terrorist is somehow the fault of a climate of intolerance in France, but Mr. Erlanger is clearly sympathetic.

“There is no question that Mr. Sarkozy has made appeals throughout his political career to French anxieties about crime and foreigners,” Erlanger notes, “and this campaign has been no exception.”

No explanation is offered how Mr. Sarkozy helped motivate a jihadist who was a jihadist before Mr. Sarkozy became president. Mr. Erlanger must believe that the killer’s tipping point must have come during Mr. Sarkozy’s tenure as Minister of the Interior back in 2002.

Again, simply an outrageous insinuation. Just like those made in the immediate aftermath of the Tuscon shootings. “Reporters” in the MSM cannot wait to discover the facts before they ally with their pals on the left to peddle the most astonishing agenda journalism instead of pausing even a moment to consider that the hate that motivated this killer is very old indeed, and has nothing to do with the rhetoric of a presidential campaign.

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