Based on the ruthlessness of the killer and his choice of victims, it’s hard to avoid at least the suspicion that the school shooting was the latest act of extremist Islamic violence against France’s Jews. The fact that the killer’s victims included Muslims does not necessarily confound the picture. In the past French Muslims have been as outraged about Israel and Jews as they have been by France’s support for U.S.-led efforts in Afghanistan. Some French Muslim soldiers have even refused to serve in Afghanistan on the grounds that they refuse to kill fellow Muslims. Osama bin Laden, in one of his final declarations, had warned in 2011 that France would pay a “high price” for putting troops on Muslim soil. In that context, it’s not difficult to imagine that the attacks on the French Muslim soldiers may have been intended as retaliation for French foreign policy.
As they track down the killer, French authorities are right to focus on the evidence rather than the motive linking the crimes. The gunman may yet turn out to be a lone terrorist with no cohesive purpose. But the history of murderous anti-Semitism in France’s Muslim community counsels that there is nothing inherently inconsistent about the motives of a killer whose ideology drives him to kill both Muslim soldiers and Jewish children.
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