Late Breaking News

June 29, 2009

Barack In Wonderland

June 29, 2009

Dry Bones: Q and A

June 29, 2009

Arnold Takes A Hike

June 29, 2009

Short Attention Span

June 29, 2009


In February 2007, a naked, emaciated, mutilated, charred and stabbed man is discovered near railway tracks in the Parisian suburb of Sainte Geneviève-des-Bois. He is taken to hospital where he is pronounced dead just before noon. Two days later, the victim is identified as Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old Jew who was abducted while working in a cell phone shop. He was held hostage and tortured for three weeks by a group calling itself the Gang of Barbarians in a housing estate in Bagneux, a suburb south of Paris. Within days, dozens of arrests are made. Gang leader Youssouf Fofana, who had fled to Ivory Coast, is quickly extradited and imprisoned.

The kidnap, torture and murder of Ilan Halimi vividly illustrates French society’s ills in the first decade of the 21st century. The unrepentant gang leader, Fofana, who called himself (in English) the “Brain of the Barbarians”, is the French-born son of immigrants from the Ivory Coast. He is a small-time thug driven by Islamic Jew-hatred. Asocial and amoral, tyrannical and seductive, cruel and clumsy, he thrives on delusions of grandeur drawn from the jihadist playbook. Having botched dozens of other attempts at extortion, he finally succeeded in committing an atrocious murder. Since 27 April, his case has been heard behind closed doors.

The 27 defendants, accused of direct or indirect involvement in Halimi’s kidnap and torture, are not all Muslim. But they all allegedly participated in a crime inspired by Islamist anti-Semitism. The police were clearly determined to return Ilan to his family safe and sound. However, they worked with an outdated protocol for dealing with ransom demands, refused to accept that the gang had anti-Semitic motives, never understood their psychology and as a
result failed miserably.

It was virtually impossible to verify what little information was made available when the crime was discovered, because reporting restrictions were imposed during the long inquest. Nothing filtered out, except for the occasional story of Fofana’s outrageous threats against judges, the courts and anyone else who angered him. He accused them all of being Jewish. Disingenuous ambiguity clouded the issues — was it really an anti-Semitic crime? Did it have anything to do with Islam? Today there is barely any coverage of the case because of the reporting restrictions. However, there is a Nouvel Observateur blog, run by Elsa Vigoreux, who publishes information from anonymous sources.

The case is being heard in juvenile court because two of the defendants, including Yalda, an Iranian girl who was sent to lure Ilan, were just under 18 when the crime was committed. They could have waived their rights to a trial in camera. They didn’t. They could have saved Ilan’s life with an anonymous tip-off to the police. They didn’t.

Read it all.

Dry Bones: The Vulcan

June 29, 2009


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