Interview: French president speaks to RFI

France to tighten spying on jihadis after soldier attack, Hollande tells RFI

François Hollande speaks to RFI, France 24 andTV 5 Monde.
François Hollande speaks to RFI, France 24 andTV 5 Monde. RFI/Romu Meigneux

France is to improve its tracking of radical Islamists, following Saturday’s attack on a French soldier in Paris, French President François Hollande said in an exclusive interview with RFI, France 24 and TV 5 Monde television Friday.


The Islamic convert, known as Alexandre, who was charged on Friday with stabbing Private First Class Cédric Cordiez had been spotted as a radical by the intelligence service but that did not prevent the attack.

Dossier: War in Mali

But Hollande, who insists that there were no clues that he might pass from words to action, ruled out a major overhaul of intelligence, saying that what is needed is a tightening up cooperation between domestic and international intelligence services to spot jihadis returning from suspicious activities abroad.

“It’s not true to say that these are isolated acts,” he said, citing the London attack on British soldier Lee Rigby, after which several arrests have been made.

“Some French citizens go to a certain number of theatres of operation, Syria or Mali, and come back with a certain number of proclamations and experience with arms,” the president pointed out, meaning that there is a home-grown threat, “which is not new”, and an external one.

Hollande also commented on:

  • Mali – “Mission accomplished, there is no place in Mali where the terrorists can be in control” but some have taken refuge in the Sahel and French troops will stay in the region “at the request of the countries concerned”;
  • Algeria – President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in a French hospital since 27 April leading to speculation that he may never return to his job, “will go home when he himself decides, as soon as possible, I hope”;
  • Tunisia – Hollande will talk to religious and secular politicians but will not “interfere in Tunisia’s political life”;
  • Syria – Bashar al-Assad is responsible for 100,000 deaths in the civil war and should step down but “part of the solution lies with Moscow”, which is supplying the Assad regime with arms.

Excerpts from the interview will be broadcast on RFI's Paris Live broadcasts on Saturday from 04.00 hours universal time. 


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