Charles Martel (whose surname means "hammer") is a hero in France, most famous for his victory in the Battle of Tours in 732 C.E. Near the city of Poitiers, Martel's forces blocked the invading Muslim army that was surging north from Spain.
Some 1,400 years later, the Muslim threat has returned to Europe. This time, however, the threat is not coming from the other side of the border. Jihadist fighters today have European passports, and are a Trojan horse hitting Europe from the inside.
The terrorist attacks in Toulouse and Brussels are examples of this new threat hanging like a cloud over France and its neighbors. For the longest time, Europe buried its head in the sand. Perhaps today it is waking up -- although it is uncertain. Charles Martel, suffice it to say, is turning in his grave, not in the least because for many of the new Europeans he is not considered a hero at all.
There are many similarities between Mehdi Nemmouche, who was arrested on Friday, and Mohammed Merah, also of Algerian descent, who murdered three Jewish children and a teacher in cold blood at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse in 2013. They both share a jihadist profile. Both left home to fight in the name of jihad -- Merah in Afghanistan, Nemmouche in Syria. They both returned to France and sought to continue their al-Qaida manufactured jihad at home. They are a new and dangerous breed of "returning citizens."
Upon their return to France, Nemmouche and Merah found a new prey -- the Jewish community. It is frightening to think that there are hundreds more who fit the same profile in Europe today, walking around freely.
Without noticing, during the era of European Union peace and brotherhood, and of massive immigration and political correctness that changed the face of the continent, Europeans now finds themselves on the front lines against the jihadists living in their midst. And the Jews are positioned in the forward outpost, the first to take fire. It is hard to say there were no warning signs.
Who among Europe's leaders today can promise that Brussels will be the last terrorist attack against Jews? Just a reminder: Following the Toulouse attacks, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in France tripled. Merah became a hero to many Muslim youngsters. We can assume that Nemmouche will have the same effect and inspire others to take similar action.
French President Francois Hollande's comments on Sunday, vowing that the republic would fight the French jihadists, are most welcome. Nemmouche's arrest is also welcome, and will put an end to all the conspiracy theories out there. We must also remind ourselves, again, that the majority of the large Muslim community in Europe is not jihadist, and that many simply seek to make an honorable living -- but we must also say loud and clear that Merah and Nemmouche sprouted from this same community, and they are not alone. The Muslim community in Europe must also join the fight against jihadists.
The cases of Nemmouche today and Merah yesterday need to set off the alarm bells for French security agencies as well. How can these radicalized young men, who were supposed to be under close surveillance, manage to fly under the radar and perpetrate such murderous attacks? In France today there are some 770 young men like this who have returned to France from Syria and another 250 who have returned to Belgium. Every one of these individuals is a potential terrorist. Their numbers, by the way, are expected to grow. There are an additional 2,700 young European men currently fighting alongside the Syrian rebels against Bashar Assad. One day they will return home, and they, too, will seek new prey. According to figures provided by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence, the number of Europeans who have fought in Syria stands at around 13,000.
French and Belgian authorities, currently cooperating with one another, will now try to retrace Nemmouche's path. Some people will undoubtedly try appealing and explaining that this was a case of a young man from a small northern town, who was raised in difficult conditions, slipped into a life of crime and tried finding meaning in life. Here, too, Europe must re-examine its failed immigration policies, which have brought jihadist terrorism to the continent and have also revitalized, in a major way, the far-right political parties.
It is amazing to think that in Belgium, where the most recent attack occurred, a political party named "Islam," which calls on instituting Shariah law in the country, operates freely and legally. It is difficult to believe that only five people in Belgium's entire security apparatus, as was revealed to me Sunday by a senior Belgian source, are responsible for the entire issue of keeping tabs on jihadists returning from Syria. And to think that in 2012 Belgium had already begun examining the potential threat posed by these returning residents. The attack in Brussels could have been prevented, had they taken the threat seriously.
The civil war in Syria has become a ticking time bomb, and the West is apparently on its way to losing on all fronts. Assad is still in power, and the rebels are continuing their fight in Europe.