Skip to navigationSkip to content

Even before the Paris attacks, France already arrested the most suspected Islamist terrorists in Europe

French police secure the area as shots are exchanged in Saint-Denis, France, near Paris, November 18, 2015 during an operation to catch fugitives from Friday night's deadly attacks in the French capital.
Reuters/Benoit Tessier
Tightening the net.
By Jason Karaian
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

French police have carried out more than 400 raids, made more than 60 arrests, and seized 75 weapons, including 11 “military weapons” (link in French) since declaring a state of emergency following the deadly attacks in Paris on Nov. 13. Police have also used their new powers to place 118 people under house arrest.

This flurry of activity—including a deadly dawn raid yesterday (Nov.17) on an apartment linked to the alleged architect of the attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud—is taking place across Europe. Arrests in Belgium and Germany followed shortly after the attacks. Most of the attackers were French citizens, supposedly directed by Abaaoud, a Belgian national.

Away from home, France and others have stepped up airstrikes on targets linked to the ISIL terror group in Syria, which said it was responsible for the attacks.

Even before this and other terrorist attacks this year—a thwarted attack on a Paris-bound train in August, and the Charlie Hebdo shootings in January—France routinely arrested suspected Islamist terrorists in greater numbers than any other EU state, according to Europol:

At around four per week in 2014, the arrests in France accounted for nearly half of all such arrests made across the EU. This share—which has been as high as two-thirds of EU arrests in some years—is sure to rise in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Despite all this activity, a local terror cell was able to inflict a deep wound. Europol warns of the “tendency for homegrown groups to join together under the common objectives of the ‘global Jihad.’”

This danger was reiterated by French president François Hollande directly after the Paris attacks, which he described as “prepared, organized, and planned from abroad, with complicity from the inside.” In many ways, the fight against this threat has only just begun.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.