As soon as I heard the news I suspected the score. “Far-Right extremists!” screamed the media pack, but my hunch was right: the murderer of a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school near Toulouse, and of three French soldiers only days earlier, was not French. He was a French citizen of Algerian descent, as we now know, but his allegiance and his identity had nothing to do with passports and ID cards.
Mohammed Merah (23), who was killed at his apartment on Thursday after a 30-hour standoff, was a Muslim—one of at least twenty million who now inhabit the European Union. The “context” was duly provided by The New York Times: “Much of the concern about domestic terrorism in Britain, Belgium, Germany and France has focused on these young people, who may have had little formal religious education but are susceptible to calls for jihad, especially when their own lives have been marked by disappointment, crime, racism and joblessness.”
The suggested narrative about this “soft-spoken and alienated youth” is clear:
Had Mr. Merah and his ilk had more “formal religious training,” they would have been less likely to kill, maim or otherwise harm their infidel fellow citizens because they would have become good Muslims, which is to say peaceful, tolerant and compassionate.
Had the infidel host-society been less racist and had it provided “jobs”—which Mr. Merah and millions of other young “European Muslims” like him would no doubt eagerly take in lieu of welfare—they would not have succumbed to the lure of jihad.
The variants on the theme of “racism” as the root of all evil in France are too numerous to quote or hyperlink. The Associated Press report, carried by dozens of newspapers all over the United States, took note of the supposedly “chronic and ambient discrimination within French society.” The Islamist terrorist and the neo-Nazi, for La Stampa’s editorialist, are “two opposite nightmares which live side by side.” According to The Scotsman, “the neo-Nazi threat” is real and by no means diminished by the killer’s identity. “France is a deeply racist country, and Toulouse will only make that worse” was Adrian Hamilton’s headline in The Independent, with the French merely transferring their resentments from Jews to Arabs.
This is all predictable liberal nonsense. The key neglected aspect of the Merah case is that he should have been marked, tracked, and prevented from carrying his murderous plans years ago. We now know that Merah had traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan to undergo terrorist training in Pakistan’s tribal areas along the Afghan border, but what happened next is unclear. French investigator say that he was arrested in Afghanistan and handed to the United States military, which “put him on the first plane headed back to France.” A Pentagon spokesman on detainee issues confirmed that he had been taken into custody by the police in Kandahar a few years ago, but that it remained unclear whether he had been released or turned over to American, French or some other NATO nation control after that.
The reason for confusion was revealed by The New York Times, which noted that Merah would have been difficult to track as he moved around the world, “because he left the country as a French citizen and had a French passport [and] could have returned through a third country like Turkey or Thailand to avoid detection.”
The problem of Muslim terrorists with Western passports is not new, and the solution exists: European countries (as well as the United States) need laws that will treat a Muslim citizen’s links with Islamic extremism—amply documented in Merah’s case—as grounds for the removal of citizenship and deportation to the suspect’s country of origin, or in Merah’s case his parents’ country of origin. The only obstacle to such reasonable and morally as well as legally justified course is the self-destructive mindset of the Western liberal society itself.
Once it is accepted that a bona fide Islamist cannot and should not be a citizen of a secular Western state—and that realization will eventually sink in, after dozens, perhaps hundreds more lives are lost—the political will can be easily translated into legislation. Those who preach or promote jihad from Marseilles to Malmo, and advocate the introduction of sharia in the non-Muslim host-societies, can and should be treated in exactly the same manner as ideological extremists of other hues who preach violence. It will be a long and hard struggle to open the eyes of legislators and legal regulators that Islam itself is a radical, revolutionary ideology, inherently seditious and inimical to Western values and institutions, but it can be done. If France now gets closer to that realization, Merah’s victims will not have died in vain.
Other necessary measures would then follow, such as preventing illegal invasion and not only halting but reversing “legal” immigration from the Muslim world into Europe, North America and the Antipodes. For those who stay, introducing profiling is essential: not all Muslims are terrorists, but all significant transnational terrorist networks that threaten Western countries’ national security and way of life are composed of Muslims. Merah’s case is a timely reminder that a person’s appearance, origin, and apparent or suspected beliefs should raise red flags at airport security checkpoints and elsewhere. Routine profiling needs to be legitimized as an essential tool of trade of law enforcement. The possession of a Western passport should no longer be treated as a potential terrorist’s “right,” and must not exempt him from due scrutiny.
The only French political figure of prominence capable of understanding the necessity of such measures is Marine Le Pen. Le Pen, currently ranked third in the polls of presidential candidates for the April 22 election, says France must “wipe out” the Islamist threat and accused the authorities of systematically minimizing it. “We have underestimated the rise of radical Islam in our country,” Le Pen said. “We didn't want to see it, out of weakness or for electoral reasons…”
After a grim week for France it is to be expected that her message will be heard more clearly than before.
Dr. Srdja Trifkovic, Foreign Affairs Editor of Chronicles, is the author of The Sword of the Prophet and Defeating Jihad.