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French press review 24 March 2016

media DR

French press is awash with details about the profile of Brussels killers' network. It asks if Brussels was a soft target in Europe for ISIS? There are also calls in France yp lry terrorist Salah Abdeslam to languish in jail.


In the aftermaths of the Brussels attacks the papers have their eyes glued on findings by Belgian investigators who have shed new light on the identities and profiles of the assassins.

The latest revelations are not just about just the El Bakraoui brothers who who blew themselves up in Brussels killing 31 people and injuring 270, but also about the 30 protagonists (commandos, accomplices and supporters) described by l'Humanité as the network of killers who carried out the the November 13 attacks in Paris and then the March 22 explosions in Brussels.

The Communist party daily reports that Belgian police have now linked up the suspected terrorist cell most of them dead or arrested.

And the paper lists the arsenal recovered from the Brussels suburb home where the suicide bombers left to stage their attack: 15 kgs of explosives, detonators,a boxload of nails and material for the fabrication of explosives.


It is the same team that includes the Bakraoui brothers captured by closed circuit tv cameras at Zaventem airport, accodrding to Libération.

As investigators battle  with what experts believe could be the most sophisticated Islamic State armed group cell in Europe, Libération runs with a profile of the 13 identified members of the so-called Belgian cell suspected of involvement in the attacks in Paris and Brussels.

The list is not exhaustive, it says.

According to the newspaper they all have a complex relationship with Paris bombing suspect Abdel Abdeslam arrested in Brussels on Friday.

From Libé's point of view they are all very strange characters acting at times like an octopus, a frightful puzzle, a township gang and at worst a military brigade.

It says some of the cell members have been friends since their adolescent days like Salah Abdeslam and Abdelhamid Abaaoud, for example.

What the paper says it doesn't know, is whether there is a chain of command complete with a commander cell and strategists and people acting on orders.

That's a most important question which investigators need to answer according to Libération.

The left-leaning publication quotes Belgian Social and Political Science professor Corinne Torrekens at Brussels Free University.

She says the French have been quick in heaping the blame for a European phenomenon on the shoulders of the Belgians.

La Croix

Resistance in the face of barbarism is the watchword, according to La Croix.

The Catholic newspaper opened up its pages to Belgian intellectuals and big names in the world of the arts to say share their views about how the their country can use European values to respond to the ordeal of terrorism and the insuing divisions it may cause to the fragile cosmopolitian nation.

Le Monde

Europe and the terrorism challenge is Le Monde's special supplement this Thursday. The  newspaper explores the mixed feelings of grief and fatalism sweeping through the Belgian nation after a sense of resignation as their worst nightmare loomed.

But for the Le Monde it would be unfair to overlook the shocking inefficiency of the country's anti-terrorism services, and how Belgium allowed itself to become the rotating plate of Jihadism and by allowing its immigrant communities in the hands
of Salafist preachers, thereby exposing itself to this catastrophe.

The French anti-terrorism expert Gilles Keppel, tells Le Monde that ISIS struck a soft target because it needed to improve on its faltering image.

If Europe is  to counter the Islamic State's propaganda machine, the paper warns, it must first bolster its security machinery, beef up its intelligence network and get its people to learn to live in a new war zone without soccumbing ot fear.

Le Figaro

And for right-wing Le Figaro, time is indeed running out for Europe to defend itself. It rolls out an arsenal of security measures France is clamouring for to be enshrined by the European Union.

These include a proposal by Paris for the creation of an air passenger name record, a Schengen data base for criminals, the beefing up of the Frontex agency, a crackdown on forged papers, urgent measures on the table of EU leaders but they have been unable to deal with because of conflicting interests.

For Le Figaro, there needs to be a revolution at this time of policy failures, of rising Salafism, communitarianism, uncontrolled immigration, over-crowded prisons and radicalization hubs.

The conservative newspaper calls for the hardening of the depleted judicial arsenal so that "all the cowards plotting the death of our civilization like Salah Abdelslam can remain in prison for the rest of their lives.


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