Dangerous jihadists should be kept on an island to stop them spreading extremism, a former French interior minister has suggested, amid warnings that up to 10,000 Europeans could be waging jihad in Iraq and Syria by the end of this year.
Charles Pasqua (88), a hardline Gaullist and ex-interior minister, made the controversial suggestion in response to government plans to "isolate" dangerous Islamists in French jails to stop them becoming a breeding ground for radicals.
Speaking on France 2, Mr Pasqua, who once pledged to "terrorise the terrorists", said: "I have learned that we are going to gather all dangerous Islamist inmates in the same place. Bravo! And where is this place? It's on continental French soil. That's not serious."
When the interviewer asked whether that meant creating a "French Guantánamo", he replied: "We should put them on an island, and that means putting them somewhere far away. I don't see why we don't reinstate forced labour."
France has a history of placing criminals on island prisons - Devil's Island off the South American department of French Guiana was the most notorious lock-up, from where ex-inmate Papillon, or Henri Charrière, famously claimed to have escaped.
Closer to home is the Chateau d'If, a fortified island opposite the Mediterranean port of Marseille that starred in Alexandre Dumas' novel, 'The Count of Monte Cristo'. Mr Pasqua's comments came as Manuel Valls, the French Prime Minister, warned that as many as 10,000 Europeans could be waging jihad in Iraq and Syria by the end of this year.
"There are 3,000 Europeans in Iraq and Syria today. When you do a projection for the months to come, there could be 5,000 before summer and 10,000 before the end of the year," Mr Valls told French television channel iTele.
"Do you realise the threat that this represents?" he asked.
He said there were around 1,400 people who were either already in these conflict zones, who had come back from there or who were planning to go.
Police yesterday were questioning four people believed to have links to Coulibaly, the gunman who killed four people at a Jewish store. These include a man who was first arrested on January 23 and his partner, a female gendarme. (© Daily Telegraph, London)