Exiled man returns to UK after legal fight over alleged terror links

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Jeddah – Yasmine El Tohamy – French officer behind ‘coup’ letter warns of civil war in France if message ignored

LONDON: A former French officer who signed a letter denouncing the government of Emmanuel Macron earlier this week has warned of the threat of civil war if his message that France is facing “disintegration” as a result of Islamism is ignored.

Jean-Pierre Fabre-Bernadac, 70, told British newspaper The Times that he plans to create a “powerful” organization to combat what he said were ethnic “hordes” and political correctness “ruining” France.

Fabre-Bernadac said he now wanted to “structure” a movement to create a nationwide “camaraderie,” and wanted it to be a “powerful lobby,” adding that if not listened to it would take France “a further step towards civil war, which we don’t want.

“If I tell you that if you’re not careful when you’re driving your car, you could have an accident, it’s not because I want you to have an accident. It’s the opposite,” he said.

Others who signed the letter included retired general Antoine Martinez, founder of “Volontaires pour la France,” a right-wing group committed to defending “traditional French values.”

The controversial letter has led some left-wing commentators to call the action of the military personnel the beginning of an attempted coup, to which Fabre-Bernadac told the Times: “I am 70. Can you really see me staging a coup d’état? And if we were planning one, do you really think we’d announce it first?”

French soldiers who signed the letter, including officers, will face sanctions before a military council, the armed forces chief of staff said earlier this week.

“Each one (will go) before a senior military council, ” General Francois Lecointre told Le Parisian newspaper, and could be “delisted” or “put into immediate retirement.”

The open letter, published by right-wing magazine Valeurs Actuelles last week, predicted that failure to act against “suburban hordes” — or residents of mainly immigrant suburban areas — and other groups who “scorn our country” will lead to “civil war” and deaths “in the thousands.”

It states that France was “disintegrating with the Islamists of the hordes of the banlieue [suburbs] who are detaching large parts of the nation and turning them into territory subject to dogmas contrary to our constitution.”

Prime Minister Jean Castex labelled the rare intervention in politics by military figures “an initiative against all of our republican principles, of honor and the duty of the army.”

The 18, including four officers, were among hundreds of signatories to the open letter.

“I believe that the higher the responsibilities, the stronger the obligation of neutrality and exemplarity,” said Lecointre.

The main instigators of the letter are alleged to have ties to far-right, anti-immigration movements in France.

Fabre-Bernadac ran security in the 1990s for the National Front leader, the Canard Enchaine newspaper reported.

* With AFP

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