Tamil Diplomat

‘France is at war,’ Hollande says

Declaring that “France is at war,” President Francois Hollande on Monday proposed sweeping new laws and more spending on public safety in response to Friday’s terror attacks in Paris — promising to eradicate terrorism, but not at the expense of France’s freedom.

At the same time, ISIS threatened the United States that it could be next.

“I swear to God, as we struck France in its stronghold Paris, we will strike America in its stronghold, Washington,” an ISIS fighter declared in a video released Monday.

The speech, and ISIS’ latest threat, came as police scoured France and Belgium in a hunt for suspects in Friday’s brutal attacks, which left at least 129 dead and 352 wounded.

In a rare speech to a joint session of parliament, Hollande urged lawmakers to approve a three-month extension of the nation’s state of emergency, new laws that would allow authorities to strip the citizenship from French-born terrorists, and provisions making it easier to deport suspected terrorists.

He also proposed adding 5,000 positions to the country’s national paramilitary police force and said he would not propose cuts in the nation’s defense spending until at least 2019.

He said France would intensify its attacks on ISIS and called for a United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the worldwide threat posed by the group.

“We are not committed to a war of civilizations, because these assassins don’t represent any civilization,” Hollande said. “We are in a war against terrorism, jihadism, which threatens the whole world.”

“Terrorism will not destroy France, because France will destroy it,” Hollande said.

French police carried out raids around the country overnight into Monday, bringing to 150 the number of raids under the country’s state of emergency since Friday.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Monday that a rocket launcher and bulletproof vest were among the items seized. He said he had ordered that 104 people be put under house arrest since the attacks.

In Belgium, authorities arrested seven people in weekend raids, but five of those have been released, according to Jean-Pascal Thoreau of Belgium’s federal prosecutor’s office.

Mohammed Abdeslam, the brother of Salah Abdeslam — who is wanted by French authorities in connection with the Paris attacks — was among those released.

An international manhunt is underway for Salah Abdeslam, who has already managed to slip through the fingers of authorities at least once. (CNN)