Counterterrorism, like espionage and covert action, isn’t a spectator sport. The more a country practices, the better it gets. France has become the most accomplished counterterrorist practitioner in Europe. Whereas September 11, 2001, was a shock to the American counterterrorist establishment, it wasn’t a révolution des mentalités in Paris. Two waves of terrorist attacks, the first in the mid-1980s and the second in the mid-1990s, have made France acutely aware of both state-supported Middle Eastern terrorism and freelancing but organized Islamic extremists.
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