The Daily Beast’s Christopher Dickey spoke with MSNBC’s Brian Williams in the aftermath of the Paris shooting that is increasingly looking like an act of terrorism. The shooter, Karim Cheurfi (aka Abu Yusuf al-Beljiki), targeted police officers, killing one and wounding two others. Another bystander was also wounded in the assault. Police later killed him. He also had a letter defending the Islamic State, which launched a bloody terrorist attack on Paris back in November of 2015, killing over 100 people. ISIS also claimed responsibility in this assault.
Cheurfi was on the radar of French security agencies, as he was involved in another police shooting back in 2001. He stole a car and ended up in a gunfight with police. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, which was reduced to 15 years.
French President Francois Hollande said that this looked like an act of terrorism, with prosecutors treating this as a terror investigation. Dickey noted that if the shooter turns out to be Muslim, an immigrant, or a child of immigrants, the National Front would exploit this incident during the French presidential election, which has its first round of voting on April 23. Their candidate, Marine Le Pen, hopes to capitalize on the populist surge sweeping the continent, along with those who support defending France's national identity and strong border enforcement measures. Newsbusters clipped the exchange:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: A much talked about and widely-watched election. Tell the folks watching – set the stakes for that election. What should we know?
CHRISTOPHER DICKEY: Well, I think what you have to know is that there are four candidates now who are only separated by the margin of error in the polls. Three of them are actually very pro-Russian and fairly anti-American. Two of them are from the extremes, the political extremes, and either of them, or both of them, could get into the runoff election two weeks from Sunday that will decide the president of France. The most famous of them is Marine LePen, who is the head of a very far-right party that will – believe me, will exploit this to the maximum if the shooter, the man who was shooting on the Champs Elysees, turns out to have been an immigrant or the child of immigrants in any way, shape, or form, or a Muslim in any way, shape, or form. Because she is running a very anti-Muslim, very anti-immigrant campaign and always has. It’s – some would say it is racist, many people do say it’s racist. But it certainly builds on the divisions that already exist in this society.
WILLIAMS: So her election would further a spark that really started with Brexit. A spark that people looking at the global situation include the election of Donald Trump. There are fears about Angela Merkel’s successor in Germany. But that would be a piece of this whole, correct?
DICKEY: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think, you know, everybody is thinking, well, Brexit and then Trump and now Marine LePen? But it wouldn’t just be Marine LePen. The far-left candidate also is against the European Union as we know it. And so, if either or both of them – conceivably, we could have far-left and far-right as the only choices for the French people two weeks and some days from now. And both of those characters want to get – essentially get out of the European Union and also weaken N.A.T.O., they are very pro-Russian. And so, if that sounds like an echo of things we've seen in the United States, and to some extent, heard in Britain, it is. And it would be really the – a nail – the nails in the coffin of the European Union and very probably of N.A.T.O. as well.
Now, MSNBC had lamented how the London terror attack at Westminster last month would help Europe’s right wing, but Dickey is different in the sense that despite his strong feelings towards how the National Front has conducted their campaign, he’s long believed that Marine Le Pen would become the next president of France. We’ll get a better picture on the 23rd. The runoff occurs on May 7 with the top two candidates.