French Extremists Call for Attack on Homeland

French Extremists Call  for Attack on HomelandFrench Extremists Call  for Attack on Homeland

A horrified France was grappling with a new reality on Thursday in which hundreds of its citizens are openly joining extremist groups and directly calling for attacks on their homeland.

A new video from the IS group released on Wednesday showed three Kalashnikov-wielding Frenchmen burning their passports and calling for attacks in France.

The new video explicitly calls for retaliation against France for launching air strikes against the IS group, which has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq, the AFP reported.

It follows the appearance of two other French militants -- identified as 22-year-olds Maxime Hauchard and Mickael Dos Santos -- in a brutal IS execution video released at the weekend.

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced on Wednesday that France would step up its campaign against the militants, sending six Mirage fighter jets to Jordan in December.

France currently has nine Rafale jets based in the more distant United Arab Emirates as part of a US-led international campaign to provide air support to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting the group.

   ‘We Know the Dangers’

But France is increasingly looking inwards as it reels from the news that over 1,000 people from a wide range of backgrounds have left to join the militants in Iraq and Syria, with 375 currently there.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Wednesday that “close to 50” French citizens or residents of France have been killed in the conflict zone.

“So we know the dangers and, sadly, we are not surprised to learn that French citizens or residents of France are found at the heart of these cells and taking part in this barbarity,” said Valls.

  Worldwide Threat

France is far from alone in dealing with the problem.

Spain is fighting a new wave of “homegrown” extremism, raiding cells and hunting radicals on the internet as scores of Spaniards join militants in Syria and Iraq.

Ten years after Al-Qaeda-inspired bombings on Madrid commuter trains killed 191 people in March 2004, Spanish authorities are tackling a new wave of extremists.

“We are seeing the hatching of homegrown extremism,” said Fernando Reinares, one of Spain’s top terrorism experts, at a gathering of specialists in Madrid this week.

“This is not new in Britain and France, but it is new in Spain and Italy.”

Reinares estimates that about 60 people have travelled from Spain to join extremists in Syria and Iraq in the past three years.

Spain’s ambassador in Iraq, Jose Maria Ferre de la Pena, this week said about 100 Spaniards had joined “extremist militias” in conflict zones.

The relatively sudden emergence of the phenomenon has shocked Spanish authorities, who have arrested dozens of suspects accused of planning to join IS.

Among the suspects arrested in Spain is a 14-year-old Spanish girl who was detained in August as she tried to enter Morocco allegedly en route to join IS, judicial sources said.

Spain’s military is currently helping train Iraq soldiers to fight IS, making the country a potential target for revenge attacks by extremists, the government warns.

As a proportion of their populations, Belgium and Denmark are the biggest contributors to the militants in Iraq and Syria, although France has sent the largest overall contingent.