The trial of the terrorist attacks of November 13, 2015 in Paris opened before a special criminal court in the French capital on September 8.
The attacks, which left 130 dead and 350 injured in Paris and the surrounding suburbs of Saint-Denis, are yet another demonstration of the bankrupt and reactionary character of terrorism. Those responsible for the attacks are guilty of mass murder. Marxists have always insisted that nothing socially progressive can emerge from the indiscriminate and arbitrary annihilation of human lives, which disorients the working class and undermines popular opposition to police state measures.
For nearly a month, relatives of the victims have spoken to recall the events of the attacks. Their tragic and genuine feelings contrast sharply with the hypocrisy of the prosecution’s arguments and the media propaganda surrounding the trial, which glosses over the war being waged by France and other NATO powers in Syria.
Nevertheless, there is an insoluble link between the “war on terrorism” and the state of emergency imposed after the attacks of November 13, 2015, on the one hand, and the French and NATO intervention in Syria and Libya since 2011, on the other hand. hand. These wars have claimed the lives of over 400,000 people and forced over 10 million people to flee their homes, leaving devastated societies behind.
Indeed, to wage wars in these two countries, the NATO powers have used the same Islamist networks that committed the Paris attacks. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria quickly became the most powerful “rebel” militia and therefore the most likely to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Already in August 2012, US officials confessed that among the Syrian rebel forces supported by NATO were members of al-Qaeda, the network that committed the September 11 attacks.
The political vacuum of the trial is seen in the fact that none of the officials of the NATO countries which have pursued this policy will be questioned, let alone put on the dock.
The trial, the largest criminal hearing ever held in France, will last nine months. Twenty defendants are on trial, including Salah Abdeslam, 31, the only survivor of the Islamic State (IS) cell that carried out the attacks. The prosecution’s case has 542 volumes, or one million pages. Nearly 1,800 civil parties, including relatives of victims and survivors, are expected to testify at the trial. At least 145 days of hearings are scheduled.
Of the 20 defendants, 14 are present, including 11 already detained. Six others are on trial in absentia, including five presumed dead, including French jihadist brothers Fabien and Jean-Michel Clain, who were reportedly killed in February or March 2019 during an airstrike in Syria. Fabien Clain is said to be the man who recorded the audio message claiming responsibility for the November 13 attacks.
During the hearing, the main defendant, Abdeslam, coldly justified the attacks by citing the French bombings against the Islamic State. “We attacked France, targeted the civilian population, but it was nothing personal,” he said. “The goal is not to stir the pot but to be sincere,” he added, assuring that the attacks were a response to “French bombing of the Islamic State” in Syria.
When in 2014, the Islamic State intervened militarily in Iraq against the pro-Iranian neocolonial regime built by the American occupation of that country between 2003 and 2011, a conflict erupted between the Islamic State and the imperialist powers. The compromise between French imperialism and the Islamic State, which served as its relay in Syria and was therefore financed for these purposes by giants like Lafarge, has collapsed.
The United States and its allies have reacted with concern to ISIS’s capture of many cities in Iraq, including Mosul. They attempted to isolate ISIS in Syria, mobilizing other jihadist forces, including the Al Nusra Front, against Assad, and crush ISIS’s advance in Iraq. When NATO launched attacks against Islamists in Iraq, it angered ISIS, which felt betrayed. In retaliation, ISIS planned to carry out attacks on European soil, under the illusion that terrorist acts would force French imperialism to change its policy.
“François Hollande said that we were fighting France because of its values, but it is a lie”, added Abdeslam, denouncing the “French planes which bombed the Islamic State, men, women, children. … François Hollande knew the risks he was taking by attacking the Islamic State in Syria.
Yet while focusing on using Islamists for their geostrategic goals in the Middle East, European states have responded to the threat posed by these same networks in Europe only with police measures targeting democratic rights and legitimizing neofascism.
It is an established fact that several terrorists who committed terrorist attacks in Paris were known to European and American intelligence services. In the aftermath of the attacks, numerous media revealed that most of the Islamists involved in the Paris suicide bombings, including their alleged organizer, were known to the French and Belgian security services long before November 13, 2015. But no service of intelligence or police took steps to prevent them from unleashing their murderous violence.
The United States, Turkey and Iraq all warned France before November 13 that plots were underway; Turkey has provided the name of one of the men involved, Ismael Omar Mostefai, known to French authorities since 2010. Mostefai was able to visit Syria in 2013, despite being on an official terrorist watch list flagging him as a risk. for security, and then back to France in 2014. He was one of the attackers who massacred nearly 100 people at the Bataclan in Paris before committing suicide.
After the attacks, the PS government of President François Hollande carried out an unprecedented series of attacks on democratic rights. He declared a state of emergency and mobilized more than 100,000 security forces across the country, greatly increasing the powers of the police and the military. Hollande proposed amending the French constitution to constitutionalize the state of emergency, a measure of questionable legality imposed during the Algerian War in 1955, and the state’s ability to withdraw the nationality of individuals, a measure previously used to suppress members of the Resistance to Nazism.
These attacks on democratic rights have gone hand in hand with the intensification of wars in Africa and the Middle East, under the pretext of fighting terrorism.
The trial will not resolve any of the issues raised by the attacks of November 13, 2015. Since then, the entire political establishment has moved rapidly towards dictatorship and the legitimization of the far right. Under the pretext of creating “national unity”, Hollande officially invited the president of the far-right National Rally (RN), Marine Le Pen, to the Elysee Palace.
Elected in 2017, Macron intensified these attacks on democratic rights. He mobilized the police to crack down on “yellow vests” demonstrations against social inequalities. It imposes a charter of principles on the French Islamic Council and promulgates an “anti-separatist law” which, under the guise of the fight against “Islamist separatism”, seeks to prevent Muslim criticism of the predatory wars of French imperialism. The task of combating the fascist drift of the ruling elite falls on the working class, mobilized from an anti-war, internationalist and socialist perspective.