France Analysis: attack shows country’s vulnerability to Islamic terrorism.
When the self-styled “Islamic State” was still expanding across Syria and Iraq in 2014, its official spokesman singled out France for a chilling threat.
Abu Mohammed al-Adnani urged Muslims to “kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French”. He added that murder should be committed in “any manner”, saying: “Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car.”
The motives of the 31-year-old man of Tunisian origin, who rushed 84 people to death beneath the wheels of his lorry in Nice, are not yet known. But he appears to have acted on the incitement to murder offered by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
If so, this event provides further proof of France’s acute vulnerability to Islamist terrorism. That stems from several factors. The delicate truth is that France has the biggest Muslim minority in Europe, approaching 10 per cent of the population. That creates a larger pool within which a small minority can be radicalised.
In absolute numbers, France has provided more foreign fighters for Isil in Syria than any other European country, although it is not yet known whether the Nice attacker had any links to the country.
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