The New York Times
June 4, 2014
To the Editor:
The French government has laudably stepped up efforts to counter the threats posed by French citizens involved with radical Muslim groups (“Fearing Converts to Terrorism, France Intercepts Citizens Bound for Syria,” news article, June 3). But trying to prevent citizens inspired by a twisted jihadist ideology from traveling to Syria, or tracking those who return to France motivated to commit violence, is only part of the challenge, albeit a big one.
Initiatives are urgently needed to prevent the emergence of another Mohammed Merah, who murdered four Jews and three soldiers in Toulouse in 2012, or Mehdi Nemmouche, arrested in France for the fatal terror attack at the Brussels Jewish Museum last month, or another who may be lying in wait.
The Brussels gunman, who killed three Jews, seems to have been first exposed to radicalism in French prisons, and then spent a year in Syria with jihadist forces.
Indoctrination in extremist ideologies in prisons demands utmost attention — for example, who are the chaplains? — as does recruitment by radical, violent groups on social media and in mosques. The French government cannot do it alone and will require active involvement by political, religious and civil society leaders.
SIMONE RODAN-BENZAQUENDate: 6/4/2014 12:00:00 AM
Director, France Office
American Jewish Committee
Paris, June 3, 2014