As I noted in this post, the French come in for a lot of abuse these days -- much of it deserved. But that makes it all the more important to give them credit where credit is due.
And today, as this New York Times story demonstrates, they deserve a lot:
PARIS - A cell that was recruiting fighters in France to join the insurgency in Iraq has been smashed, intelligence and law enforcement officials said Wednesday.Actor John Rhys-Davies (who played the dwarf Gimli in the Lord of the Rings movies) raised some eyebrows almost exactly a year ago when he decried the spread of militant Islam across Europe. Now it appears he was simply a man ahead of his time.
In police raids Monday and Wednesday after intensive and lengthy surveillance, French authorities arrested nine men and two women, and more arrests are expected, the officials said. The timing was linked to information that at least two of those arrested were poised to leave for Iraq, perhaps to carry out suicide attacks, they said.
The raids in northeast Paris represent the first time in the European campaign to crack down on the recruitment of insurgents that an entire cell has been dismantled, the officials said. It was also the first such operation in France since Dominique de Villepin, the minister of the interior, increased surveillance of mosques, prayer halls and demonstrations throughout France after the terrorist bombings in Madrid last March.
Senior investigators in Europe say they have seen growing evidence that young Muslim men are willing to travel to Iraq to fight against the U.S.-led occupation.
"This is just the beginning," a senior German official said. "There will be more arrests made of recruiters soon."
Europe's new get-tough attitude is a welcome development. My hunch is that the gruesome murder of Theo Van Gogh in the Netherlands by radical Muslims last November served as a wake-up call -- a wake-up call America heard on September 11, 2001.
Thankfully, it appears Europe has decided that its way of life, its values, and its culture -- all of which, mind you, initially led it to welcome Muslim immigrants in a spirit of tolerance -- are worth fighting for after all.