A former French interior minister has said that dangerous jihadis should not be kept in prisons on France’s mainland but shipped off to islands to “isolate” them and prevent prisons becoming a breeding ground for radicals.
Charles Pasqua, 88, made the suggestion amid warnings that up to 10,000 Europeans could join Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria by the end of this year, the Telegraph reports.
He made the comments on France 2 during a discussion about Cherif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly, two of the three gunmen who killed 17 people in two attacks in January, who had met in prison.
The hard line Gaullist, who once pledged to “terrorise the terrorists” said, “I have learned that we are going to gather all dangerous Islamist inmates in the same place. Bravo! And where is this place? It’s on continental French soil. That’s not serious.”
When questioned if that meant he would prefer a “French Guantanamo,” he said, “We should put them on an island, and that means putting them somewhere far away. I can’t see why we don’t reinstate forced labour.”
Such an idea is not new in France’s history, with the infamous Chateau D’If, a fortified island off the coast of Marseilles which featured as the prison for the hero of Alexander Dumas’ famoud novel, The Count of Monte Cristo.
Further away from France, Devil’s Island, the penal colony of Cayenne set up by Emperor Naploeon III after his coup held maximum security prisoners in the 19th and 20th centuries, before it was closed down in 1952. It is from here that ex-inmate Papillon (butterfly) or Henri Charrière famously claimed to have escaped.
A warning about the number of Europeans who may flock to take up arms with jihadi fighters was made by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. He said there were around 1,400 people who were either in these conflict zones already, who had come back from there or who were planning to go.
“There are 3,000 Europeans in Iraq and Syria today. When you do a projection for the months to come, there could be 5,000 before summer and 10,000 before the end of the year,” Mr Valls told French television channel iTele.
“Do you realise the threat that this represents?” he asked.
Opinion polls in the run up to France’s municipal elections show that Marine Le Pen’s National Front is set to win the elections which will be a welcome stepping stone for the charismatic MEP as she contents the Presidential elections in 2017.
With the latest news that a French Warrant Officer serving with the Gendarmerie arrested and questioned over her knowledge of the attacks by Amedy Coulibaly and allowing her boyfriend, who is suspected of supplying arms or even possibly being more deeply involved with the fundamentalist murderer who stormed a Kosher supermarket in January, into the building, France is on high alert against Muslim extremists.