U.S. Antigovernment Groups Are Influencing the French Far Right

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Politics|U.S. Antigovernment Groups Are Influencing the French Far Right


The apical French quality official, who is visiting Washington this week, said QAnon and different conspiracy theories were spreading to Europe.

Laurent Nuñez, France’s nationalist  quality   and counterterrorism coordinator, successful  Paris past  year. “As acold   arsenic  the threats from the utmost  right, the developments we are observing successful  France are rather  akin  to what is happening successful  the United States,” helium  said connected  Wednesday.
Credit...Stephane De Sakutin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Julian E. Barnes

Oct. 13, 2021, 2:44 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — Right-wing extremist groups successful the United States person been influencing French groups, spreading antigovernment conspiracy theories successful Europe, the apical French quality authoritative said connected Wednesday.

The official, Laurent Nuñez, France’s nationalist quality and counterterrorism coordinator, has been successful Washington this week for meetings with American officials specified arsenic his U.S. counterpart, Avril D. Haines, the manager of nationalist intelligence.

Relations betwixt Paris and Washington person been strained aft a U.S. woody past period to merchantability Australia atomic submarines, which enactment an extremity to a French contract.

Mr. Nuñez did not mince words, saying “the superior bilateral crisis” remained. Still, President Emmanuel Macron of France authorized Mr. Nuñez’s sojourn arsenic portion of efforts to easiness the diplomatic feud and reconstruct high-level communications betwixt the 2 governments.

Cooperation among quality services, often stripped of politics, is usually acold steadier than relations betwixt heads of state, and that has been the lawsuit with France, according to U.S. officials. French officials said they were continuing to enactment unneurotic connected a wide array of counterterrorism issues successful Syria, Africa and Afghanistan and threats from home extremist groups.

“As acold arsenic the threats from the utmost right, the developments we are observing successful France are rather akin to what is happening successful the United States,” Mr. Nuñez said.

In erstwhile years, utmost right-wing groups successful France were unfastened astir their activities, little convulsive and had antithetic motivations, helium said. But right-wing extremists were present older, Mr. Nuñez added, and they are often radical whose activities the French authorities bash not cognize about.

“They privation to signifier themselves into clandestine networks,” helium said. “There is nary much visibility. They are consenting to perpetrate convulsive actions, which tin beryllium compared to terrorists.”

The groups’ targets person expanded from mosques and Islamic groups to institutions of the French state, helium said. Like American groups, galore extremist groups person adopted conspiracy theories astir the government’s actions.

Over the past 5 years, Mr. Nuñez said, the French authorities had dismantled six extremist cells that had accumulated weapons oregon explosives and were plotting attacks.

The French authorities person not recovered “operational links” betwixt home extremist groups and the United States. But French groups person drawn inspiration from different movements extracurricular the country, including QAnon, Mr. Nuñez said.

QAnon is simply a baseless conspiracy theory among immoderate supporters of erstwhile President Donald J. Trump who judge a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles runs the world.

American and European officials person tracked the dispersed of QAnon to Europe, which intensified astatine the opening of the coronavirus pandemic. Some far-right groups successful Germany, for example, began adopting QAnon theories. Mr. Nuñez said a akin improvement was occurring successful France.

“Some individuals person been adopting the logic of QAnon,” helium said. “They are reasoning that the authorities has a hidden docket and is operating against its ain population.”

French officials person been pursuing the developments of extremist groups successful the United States, peculiarly aft Capitol onslaught connected Jan. 6.

“We tin spot their information is the same,” Mr. Nuñez said. “They are warring against democracy.”

The French, similar the remainder of the world, are watching for signs of Al Qaeda returning to Afghanistan oregon the Islamic State gathering spot nether the caller Taliban government.

The astir devastating violent onslaught successful France, the assaults successful Paris successful 2015 that killed 130 people, was partially planned successful Syria. Mr. Nuñez said it would beryllium harder for groups to usage Afghanistan arsenic a launching pad for attacks successful Europe. The web that brought fighters to France from Syria does not beryllium for extremists successful Afghanistan, helium said.

So far, the French person not observed a travel of radical to Afghanistan from Europe hoping to articulation the Taliban. Still, Mr. Nuñez said it would beryllium important to intimately vet Afghan refugees.

The nonaccomplishment of the Taliban to halt Islamic State attacks during the evacuation from the Kabul airdrome has besides raised doubts successful Paris astir the caller Afghan government’s quality to halt violent threats from emerging, Mr. Nuñez added.

“We person to ticker if Al Qaeda leaders are moving to Afghanistan,” helium said. “Will the Taliban beryllium capable to power and dismantle those cells?”

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