France braced for 'rebirth of violent left'

  • Posted on: 4 January 2009
  • By: worker

<table><tr><td>From <a href=" Guardian</a> - by Jason Burke

<em>Despite claims of exaggeration, government reports insist a new generation of extremists will soon launch a wave of sabotage and bombings</em>

The French government fears a wave of extreme left-wing terrorism this year with the possible sabotage of key infrastructure, kidnappings of major business figures or even bomb attacks.

Secret French government reports, seen by the Observer, describe an "elevated threat" from an "international European network ... with a strong presence in France" after the radicalisation of "a new generation of activists" in recent years. Senior analysts and experts linked to the government have drawn parallels with the Action Directe group, which carried out 50 or more attacks in the early 1980s. Others cite the example of the Baader-Meinhof gang.</td><td><img title="I wish" src="files/pictures/2009/violence.jpg"></td></tr></table><!--break-->

A report by the French domestic intelligence service talks of "a rebirth of the violent extreme left" across Europe that is likely to be aggravated by the effects of the economic crisis. Other secret documents expose alleged links with activists in Italy, Greece, Germany and the UK. "It has been growing for three or four years now and the violence is getting closer and closer to real terrorism," said Eric Dénécé, director of the French centre of intelligence research and a former Defence Ministry consultant.

While some believe such claims to be scaremongering, the present political atmosphere is tense, with many among right-wing President Nicolas Sarkozy's aides fearing a repeat of the violence in Athens last month, when angry and alienated young people and a hard core of violent left-wing extremists rioted for several days, causing significant damage and bringing the city to a halt.

Last week hundreds of fly-posters around Paris called on young people "forced to work for a world that poisons us" to follow the example of their Greek counterparts. "The insurrection goes on. If it takes hold everywhere, no one can stop it," the posters said.

The recent intelligence reports have blamed violent demonstrations against changes in employment law in 2006, often by middle-class young people, for the recruitment of large numbers of new activists.

A series of incidents last year confirmed the fears of French police. In January two activists were arrested in possession of what was alleged to be bomb-making materials. In November nine people were arrested after a lengthy surveillance operation in the central French village of Tarnac, where they had set up a commune. Two of the alleged ringleaders, Julien Coupat, 34, and his partner Yildune Lévy, 25, are still in prison accused of sabotaging high-speed TGV railway lines and "associating with wrongdoers with terrorist aims".

Gilles Gray, assistant director of economic protection of the French domestic intelligence service, spoke recently of "a philosophy that was spreading in Europe". The arrests in Tarnac were "a strong message ... addressed to those who might be thinking about committing similar acts," he said. "We hope that this affair has put a stop for a time to this kind of violent action [and will avoid] a return of Action Directe."

Investigators believe that the arrests at Tarnac provoked "reprisals" in Athens, where the offices of the French news agency Agence France-Presse were attacked with makeshift incendiary devices, and in Hamburg, where the French consulate was daubed with paint.

A claim of responsibility for the sabotage of the TGV lines was, police say, sent to a German newspaper from Hanover and signed "those who have had enough ... in memory of Sébastien", believed to be a reference to Sébastien Briat, a young anti-nuclear militant crushed by a nuclear waste train in eastern France exactly four years before the night of the recent spate of sabotage. Coupat and Lévy had taken part in demonstrations and actions in Germany, the US and the UK.

Coupat has also been accused by investigators of anonymously writing a book, The Coming Insurrection, published by a little known Paris publishing house in 2007. The book, which has been translated into English and posted on US and UK anarchist websites, was found in the possession of three young activists arrested after detonating a bomb in a field. It contains instructions about sabotaging railways and other means of "destroying the power of the police, seizing local political power by the people, and blocking the economy". A statement from the publishing house said the author was "a committee from the subversive tendency".

But some accuse France's right-wing government of both exaggerating and exploiting the left-wing threat. "They are turning my son into a scapegoat for a generation who have started to think for themselves about capitalism and its wrongs and to demonstrate against the government," said Gérard Coupat, father of the alleged ringleader of the Tarnac group.

"The government is keeping my son in prison because a man of the left with the courage to demonstrate is the last thing they want now, with the economic situation getting worse and worse. Nothing like this has happened in France since the war. It is very serious."

Author and researcher Christophe Bourseiller told the Observer the threat was being exaggerated. "Yes, there is a certain renewed level of agitation, but there is a huge difference between deliberately slowing down a few trains without injuring anyone and something like the Madrid bomb blasts," he said. "The Ministry of the Interior has made it look like the Tarnac arrests halted a serious campaign of violence with a huge, huge media operation."

Certainly there is a widespread fear at the ministry in the Place Beauveau of violent protests in the coming months. A powerful and growing movement among schoolchildren forced the tactical withdrawal of wide-ranging reform plans after demonstrations in Lyon led to clashes with the police, mass arrests and the burning of cars.

Trade unions have promised a series of mass stoppages in the coming months. Among a population already made bitter by static salaries, rising prices and structurally high levels of unemployment, the lay-offs and wage cuts that could result from the economic crisis will fuel anger.

"Whether or not the Tarnac group is guilty, there are other groups in France, in Italy, in Germany, which, having lost faith in a political left in disarray, are tempted by violent action and are in a phase of semi-clandestinity," Alain Bauer, a criminologist at the Sorbonne, told the Observer. "With Action Directe and the Red Brigades, there was a first intellectual phase, followed by a radicalisation and then a transition to physical action. Books like The Coming Insurrection are strongly reminiscent of the first phase."

Other similarities include the tactics envisaged and the middle-class, educated profile of most of the activists.


"....A powerful and growing movement among schoolchildren..."

That would be so awesome!!! I wish I was european. Being an anarchist in america sucks.

At least we don't throw anarchists in prison as indiscriminately as we used to (i.e. IWW).

Maybe not (then again there's the RNC 8). But what have anarchists in America achieved since....oh..I don't know, the 60's? Scratch that, the early 20th century? We had the WTO but what else? We really have to break ourselves from this anarcho-liberal/activist - Chomskyist/Zinnian streak we have going on ya know? It's not like you have to be a post-leftist or anything to find that agreeable.

North American anarchists really have to start acting like anarchists if we want to get anywhere, I don't care how you look at it. Whether it's a class based upheaval, or an anti-political/post-leftist insurrection (or just a regular good ol' fashion insurrection, it doesn't have to be based on anti-politics). None of these things seem to be in the cards for NA anarchists/communists. We're too busy planning "Hope Blocs" and all that nonsensical bullshit. I'm not going to prescribe solutions or anything, but I can at least acknowledge the fact that NA anarchism/communism is shit right now.

The 1920's saw anarchists setting off car bombs on wall street.
Try that today and.............

We suck. We need to find a way.

I forgot to say in above. The RNC8 did not actually do anything. They are catching hell for what might have been done, and what they might have planned, anyone say or think "set up", "Patsy".

Proves rights are illusions under government.

Yeah. That needs to return. What ever it takes.
Jason Martin

Jason Martin
That's a good point. Being an anarchist in the United States is a joke. No one is willing to bring violence to this "wonderful" nation of ours. All Europeans do is riot. Over politics, soccer, you name it.

It's still beautiful though.
- Jason Martin

The arrests in France are almost certainly linked to the ongoing harassment of anarchists that began in the US with the Green Scare. Notice that the FBI turned over files about Coupat to the French intelligence agencies prior to the arrests.

That said, anarchists need to be honest and admit that the vast conspiracy touted by the police and their sociologists is a fantasy.

- Jules Verne

Wow. I didn't know that. How fucked up this country is and how it will remain, I had no clue that the FBI would give information to DGSE. I guess America will do anything to elminate anybody that's a threat to the state.
Jason Martin

Hi. Support for the people in Tarnac is still needed, so please sign the petition. We have 8000 signatures but we need more.

The petition is very simple but just in case you get lost, here’s a quick explanation.

Nom is surname and it will not be displayed
Prenom is your first name and it will be displayed
Adresse and code postal are simply address and post code. They will not be displayed
Ville is your town. It will not be displayed.
Nationalité is, of course, your nationality. It will not be displayed
Profession is the same and will not be displayed.
E-mail is, of course, your e-mail address. It will not be displayed.
Commentaires are your comments. You can write something if you want. The comments will be displayed.
Vérification involves putting the letters and numbers you see in the box.
You can tick the box to subscribe to the mesopinions (the website) newsletter if you want.
You then press ‘valider’.
You will be sent an email.
You then click on Cliquez ici pour valider votre signature to finish the process.

Financial help is also needed for the support group. Cheques can be made payable to Comité de soutien aux inculpés de Tarnac and sent to Comité de soutien aux inculpés de Tarnac, le bourg, 19170 Tarnac France. The use of the term ‘terrorism’ in this affair is extremely disturbing. Thanks!!