Decline in the threat of jihadist attacks, reinforced resources, breakthrough of the ultra-right… Assessment of the fight against terrorism of Macron’s five-year term

Emmanuel Macron, when he lists the crises he went through during his five-year term, never fails to start with terrorism, “this challenge of our generations”, according to the formula he used, Sunday March 20 in Toulouse, during the tribute he paid to the victims of Mohammed Merah. The series of attacks by the Toulouse terrorist in March 2012 marked the beginning of a bloody decade in France.

A diminishing and changing jihadist threat

When Emmanuel Macron comes to power, the jihadist threat remains very high. Two days before the first round of the presidential election, in April 2017, police officer Xavier Jugelé was shot dead on the Champs-Elysées. Since then, the threat has only decreased to fall, at the beginning of 2022, to a residual level. This decrease is the effect, above all, of the defeat and disappearance of the caliphate of the Islamic State (IS) organization with the loss of Mosul then Rakka, in 2017. And finally of the fall of its very last bastion , in March 2019 in Baghouz, northeastern Syria. But it also results from the better coordination between the various services responsible for the fight against terrorism, of which the General Directorate of Internal Security (DGSI) has been designated leader by Mr. Macron. The fight against terrorism, to which 1,000 new positions have been assigned, is now led by a duo formed by Nicolas Lerner, head of the DGSI, and Laurent Nuñez, national intelligence coordinator at the Elysée.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers The terrorist threat is generally in decline in France, but more complex, diversified and elusive

On December 6, 2021, during a symposium organized in Paris by the Institut Montaigne, the European Leadership Network and the Fondapol, Marlène Schiappa, Minister Delegate for Citizenship, estimated at 36 the number of jihadist attacks foiled in France since 2017 (20 in 2017, 7 in 2018, 4 in 2019, 2 in 2020 and 3 in 2021), against 14 attacks committed (3 in 2017, 3 in 2018, 1 in 2019, 6 in 2020 and 1 in 2021) having caused a total of 25 dead and 83 injured. During this period, the number of S files (for “state security”) active in the field of jihadist terrorism fell from more than 8,000 to 5,500.

In this rather positive assessment, the fall of 2020 is a serious downside: three attacks then follow one another in quick succession, in Paris, Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (Yvelines) then Nice, in the middle of the trial of the attacks of Charlie Hebdo. They all seem to have been motivated by the republication of the cartoons of Muhammad by the satirical weekly and the violent campaign launched against France by actors as diverse as Al-Qaeda, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Pakistani Islamist parties.

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