French press review 22 August 2017


The terrorist attacks in the Spanish region of Catalonia continue to dominate the news.

This after Spanish police gunned down terror suspect Younes Abouyaaqoub, in a dramatic massive manhunt 50 kms from Barcelona, four days after he rammed a van on the tourist-packed Barcelona boulevard killing 13 people and injuring 100 others.

Le Parisien relays reports from police that the Moroccan national who was wearing a fake suicide belt when he was killed.

The paper also observes that he was the last remaining member of a 12-man cell suspected of plotting last week’s deadly vehicle rampages in the Catalan capital and the seaside resort of Cambrils — the very first terrorist attack claimed by the Islamic State organization in Spain.

According to Le Parisien, four suspected members of the cell are under arrest while the others were either killed by police or in an explosion believed to have been accidentally detonated by the suspects themselves in their bomb factory in the seaside town of Alcanar.

Le Parisien also says that Catalonia’s police boss confirmed on Monday that the terrorists killed in the explosion was the Moroccan imam at the heart of the cell, Abdelbaki Es Satty.

Le Figaro also has an update on the very latest developments about the attacks with its correspondent in Barcelona reporting that investigations have now shifted to possible international complicities.

According to the publication, police are particularly interested in several trips made to Morocco and Belgium by self-proclaimed Imam Abdelbaki Es Satty in 2016 with particular attention focused on his trip to the Belgian neighborhood of Vilvoorde one of the departure points of jihadists towards Iraq and Syria.

La Dépêche du Midi expresses regret that the idea of stepping up an FBI-style EU taskforce charged with the coordinating anti-terrorism intelligence and intervention operations is facing national resistances.

As the paper argues such a force is all the more important because the terrorists do not operate within specific borders of one country.

It’s heart-breaking from the publication’s point of view to watch the Europeans drag their feet at a time when Islamist networks take advantage of the least opportunities to commit bloodshed.

La Presse de la Manche agrees, arguing that the Islamist terrorists have invented an effective system which consists of getting others to commit their odious crimes for them.

According to the paper, with such tactics ISIS has evolved from a powerful organization bent on terrorizing people to a low cost force relying on vulnerable persons, some with psychiatric disabilities, to do their dirty work , whenever they can and with the means at their disposal.

Another issue which is fuelling heated debate here in France is the volume of Chinese investments in the Eurozone.

This was after Beijing moved on Friday to reverse previous policy encouraging overseas buying sprees, for amid fears that powerful conglomerates were racking up dangerous levels of debt which could harm the country’s interests and security.

Les Echos says this is certainly good news which three of Europe’s economic powers are ready to capitalize on.

The economic newspaper reports that Berlin, Paris and Rome have written to the EU Commission in Brussels in which they make concrete proposals about confiding specific control powers an EU organ.

As the publication explains, it is not a question of undermining the rules of free trade but to verify that Chines acquisition in Europe are not motivated by political logic decided by the government Beijing.

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