US response to 9/11 caused chaos & hurt France – Hollande

French President Francois Hollande. © Christophe Ena
America’s response to the September 2001 terrorist attacks, particularly the invasion of Iraq, fostered rather than curbed global terrorism, French President Francois Hollande has said, adding that France has suffered from US foreign policy choices.

In a Facebook post commemorating the victims of the 9/11 attacks, Hollande criticized the way the administration of then President George W. Bush responded to the tragedy.

"The response that the American administration gave to these attacks... far from eradicating the threat, expanded it over a wider area. Namely to Iraq," the French leader wrote, as quoted by AFP.

"And even though France, through [ex-President] Jacques Chirac, rightly refused to join the intervention [in Iraq] which it condemned, it has nonetheless been a victim of the consequences of the chaos it caused."

The French president added that Islamists are targeting democracy, freedom, tolerance and culture, but that those values would ultimately triumph.

On September 11, 2001, terrorist group Al-Qaeda organized the hijacking of four planes, resulting in the biggest attack on America in modern history. Washington’s immediate response was to attack Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, which harbored the terrorist organization’s leader, Osama bin Laden.

Two years later the US invaded Iraq, with the allegations that Saddam Hussein’s government had links to Al-Qaeda being among the key arguments for the move. No such links were found after the country was occupied.

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Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) – the most notorious modern terrorist organization and the perpetrator of a number of high-profile terrorist attacks on Western countries – rose to power in Iraq, which descended into sectarian violence after the US installed a new government.

France has seen the heaviest toll in civilian lives among Western countries targeted by IS.

In his post, Hollande said each such attack was like a re-enactment of 9/11, with its consequences of "buried lives, broken destinies and grieving families."

One of the largest losses of life took place in November 2015 in and outside Paris, when terrorist attacks claimed the lives of 137 people and injured 368 others. Claimed by Islamic State, the attacks targeted the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis and various locations across the capital, including the Bataclan Theater where hostages were taken. The attack was the worst in France since World War II and the deadliest in the EU since the 2004 Madrid train bombings, when 192 people were killed.