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“The attacks of November 13 are the high point of European jihadism, which took shape from September 11”

Tribune. Perpetrated on American soil, the attacks of September 11, 2001 were also, in many ways, the starting point of European jihadism. Embryonic until then, the Europe of jihad is structured from this inaugural date of the XXIe century. The attacks of November 2015, the trial of which begins on Wednesday, September 8, are the culmination of this.

In the 1990s, a few dozen jihad veterans in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Algeria used Western Europe as a sanctuary. The 9/11 commando benefited from solidarity in several territories. Its members gathered in Hamburg, enjoyed financial and logistical links in Madrid and Copenhagen. The head of operations, Mohammed Atta, consulted the main ideologues of “Londonistan”. He had support in Brussels, like the assassins of Commander Massoud in Afghanistan on September 9, 2001, loyal to a Salafist center in Molenbeek.

Read the editorial of the “World”: Attacks of November 13: the law, the ultimate response to terrorism

In reaction, the dismantling of the sectors hinders the capacities of Al-Qaida, which formulated, in October 2002, its first threats against France and Germany, however opposed to the preparations for the invasion of Iraq. In the field of preaching, the arrest of veterans is compensated by the emancipation of young Salafists they have trained. This is the case with the Madrilenians who organized the terrible attacks at Atocha station on March 11, 2004 (191 dead) or with the group from The Hague, which executed Theo Van Gogh in Amsterdam on November 2, 2004, a prelude to the affair of Danish cartoons and its many repercussions in France.

Militant geography

The first German cell, known as “Sauerland”, takes shape in Ulm after the flight of a recruiter of the jihad in Bosnia. Similarly, Mohammad Sidique Khan and his associates from Beeston Hill, Leeds, studied with imams in “Londonistan” before blowing themselves up in the capital’s underground on July 7, 2005 (52 dead). In France, the networks of the Buttes-Chaumont in Paris or the Clain brothers in Toulouse are developing according to this pattern. The former will be involved in the organization of the attacks of January 7 and 9 and November 13, 2015, acts that the latter will claim from Raqqa on behalf of Daesh.

In the mid-2000s, the emergence of the pioneers of the European movement anchored jihadism in very specific territories. Their activism located in certain neighborhoods draws a militant geography: around fifty towns from which most of the 6,000 Europeans will leave for Syria ten years later. These microcosms are already providing, according to iterations now well known, volunteers on foreign fronts who, once seasoned, plan to turn weapons against the societies from which they come.

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