Five years after the start of the wave of Islamist attacks in France, mainly inspired or claimed by the Islamic State group, the justice system has decided to dedicate a separate investigation to the leaders of the jihadist organization and its leader Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi.
As the investigation into the November 13 attacks comes to an end, Parisian anti-terrorist magistrates have decided to open, on October 8, a judicial inquiry against the self-proclaimed caliph of IS and his alleged right arm dead, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani.
Al-Baghdadi, 48, and al-Adnani, one of the IS strategists dubbed the “terrorist minister”, are now the target of an international arrest warrant issued on Monday by investigating judges, learned AFP Friday from judicial sources.
As early as 2014 and al-Baghdadi’s proclamation of the restoration of an Islamic “caliphate” over vast territories in Iraq and Syria, the organization launched a call to kill European and American civilians. Calls that intensified after the first airstrikes by the international coalition against its bastions.
Al-Adnani, allegedly killed in a targeted strike in the summer of 2016, set out to motivate isolated jihadists to take action in their country of origin as well as to oversee terror campaigns in the West.
What role did they play in the wave of attacks in Europe, and in particular with the Franco-Belgian jihadist cell responsible for the attacks of November 13, 2015, in Paris and Saint-Denis and of March 22, 2016, in Brussels?
A group of lawyers for the victims of the 13 November attacks had asked the examining magistrates at the end of August for an arrest warrant to be issued against the head of the Islamic State, considering that he was “minimally an accomplice” of these attacks.
But the opportunity to issue such a warrant has been the subject of debate in the legal world, while the chances of seeing the leaders of the Islamic State group handed over to French justice are minimal.
– “Enemy number 1” –
This new investigation, opened for “management or organization of criminals association”, constitutes “a big step forward”, welcomed to AFP this group of five lawyers led by Me Aude Rimailho, who plans to become a party city.
For Gerard Chemla, one of the lawyers of the National Federation of Victims of Attacks and Collective Accidents (Fenvac), “these arrest warrants could have been issued from the start” of the investigations after 13 November. However, “if by chance we end up catching al-Baghdadi, France will have the vocation to go and question him””, he congratulated AFP.
“Al-Baghdadi is the number 1 enemy for the whole world, the chances of seeing him appear in a French court are extremely low. But that is not a reason to give up before you have started”, a- he concluded.
In addition to the November 13 attacks, the EI group claimed or inspired several of the jihadist attacks in France, which have left 255 dead since 2015.
Amedy Coulibaly, the killer of the Hypercacher on January 9, 2015, had been the first to swear allegiance to “caliph” al-Baghdadi. An example also followed by the authors of the Magnanville (Yvelines) and Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray (Eure) attacks in 2016, inspired by Syria by the French propagandist Rachid Kassim, also presumed dead.
In a claim deemed opportunistic this time, the jihadist organization also attributed the authorship of the July 14, 2016 attack in Nice.
The al-Baghdadi “caliphate” was declared eradicated on March 23, but the security chaos in the region, reinforced by the Turkish offensive against the Kurds in Syria, raises fears of a resurgence of the organization.
“The process is more advanced in Iraq, where its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and most of its leaders are now based,” said a report by experts from the United Nations in mid-July.
The last appearance of al-Baghdadi dates back to a propaganda video of April 29 where he called on his supporters to continue the fight. The head of IS, who appeared there for the first time in five years, had promised that his organization would “take revenge” for its killed members and that the fight against the West was “a long battle”.