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July 24, 2016 at 8:58 am

Fredette in Washington Post: Nice Has Reputation as Terrorist Breeding Ground

Dr. Jennifer Fredette

Dr. Jennifer Fredette

Dr. Jennifer Fredette, Assistant Professor of Political Science, wrote a column in the Washington Post headlined “Nice now has a reputation as a breeding ground for terrorists.”

We still don’t know much about why Tunisian-born French resident Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drove a truck through Bastille Day crowds in Nice on July 14, killing 84 people and injuring many more.

The Islamic State has asserted responsibility for the attack. But Bouhlel apparently did not attend any mosque, and acquaintances described him as an nonreligious divorcé who enjoyed drinking, dating and salsa dancing. Unlike previous attackers, he was not known to counterterrorism intelligence services. Early reports suggest that he had a history of psychological illness and a record of family violence. If he was being funded by the Islamic State to commit the attack, as Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a news conference, “it seems that he was radicalized very rapidly.” More recent information suggests, however, that the “rapid radicalization” theory might not be correct and that Bouhlel had been radicalized quite a while before.

If he was, it is no surprise that it happened in Nice.

While many Americans know the city as a tourist destination, Nice now has a reputation as a “breeding ground” for radicals. Of the nearly 2,000 French citizens who have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight or train there as jihadists, at least 55 have come from Nice and the surrounding area. Some report that the number is more than 100. Nice was once the home base of Omar Omsen, also known as Oumar Diaby, a recruiter who makes and distributes videos online encouraging Muslims to go to fight in Syria.

Here’s what political science can – and can’t — tell us about why Nice has become such a breeding ground….

Read the rest of Fredette’s column in the Washington Post.

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