Charles Martel Group
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The Charles Martel Group (also known as the Charles Martel Club) was a French far-right anti-Arab terrorist organization which operated in the 1970s and 1980s. It was named after Charles Martel, the Frankish military leader who defeated invaders of the Umayyad Caliphate at the Battle of Tours in 732.
Their attacks were primarily centered on Algerian properties or businesses and also aimed at the Algerian government. This stemmed from the near decade long Algerian war fought between France and Algeria after World War II between 1954-1962. Algeria had long been a colony of the French and saw other colonized nations gaining their independence, mainly from Great Britain. This among other factors led to a war that included acts of brutality, torture and guerrilla warfare. The end result was an independent Algeria but a tremendous amount of hostility remaining between the two nations. What added insult to injury for French citizens was at the end of the decade when refugees from Algeria began to migrate north and settle in the French countryside.
Choosing Martel as the namesake of the radical group stems from his successful defense of the then Frankish Kingdom over a thousand years prior.
There have been other groups with similar interests to that of the Charles Martel Group in and outside of France. A terrorist organization targeting the French government for supporting the Algerian independence movement popped up using a similar name in the 1960s before the radical group came together. This original group never got around to acts of violence. A Charles Martel Society has formed in America[clarification needed] with some radical overtones, but it too seems to be a non-violent group.
- 14 December 1973 - Bomb attack on the Algerian consulate offices in Marseilles. Four Algerians were killed and 20 injured.
Historians differ on when the group actually formed. Some do not credit the first attack to this group as they have the group coming together in 1975. However, since this attack targeted Algerian offices and killed Algerian refugees it is associated with the group.
These were two separate attacks on the same day, yet it appears they were done more as a scare tactic as nobody was injured in either attack. This gives merit to the argument that the first attack years earlier was an independent group. Bombing the offices of the major airline of Algeria would seem to infer that the next step would be a hijacking or bombing of an actual airline.
- 10 April 1975 - Car bomb explodes outside the Algerian consulate in Paris. No-one was hurt. Claimed by the Charles Martel group as a protest against the French President's visit to Algeria.
An openly admitted attack by the group. For the first time since granting Algeria their independence, the French head of state, at this time Valery Giscard-d'Estaing, was making a visit to the former colony. Relations had not been going well and the Algerians were upset at many things, including prior terror attacks, and rightfully so. The French president made a bold move by going. This outraged the radicals and led to a minor incident here, but widespread fear that worse was to come.
- 1 November 1977 - Two Algerians kidnapped in Paris. Claimed as a reprisal for the kidnapping of two French nationals in Mauritania the previous month by the Algerian-backed Polisario Front.
Mauritania was another former French colony who was now involved in a war of their own with other African factions including the radical group known as the Polisario Front. The French were giving aid to their former colony in the form of weapons and other resources. Then two French men working in the mining industry in Mauritania were killed and another six were kidnapped. The Charles Martel Group acted quickly after this but showed some restraint by sparing the lives of the two men they kidnapped.
- 7 May 1980 - Bombing of the North African Moslem Students Association. No-one was hurt.
Little is known about this act. Primarily because nobody was injured once again. It had also been well over two years since the previous attack, it was possible that some of the resentment was starting to fade.
- 11 May 1980 - Algerian consulate in Aubervilliers bombed. No-one was hurt. A handwritten leaflet was left claiming responsibility, and stating that the Charles Martel Group was "against the church, the Jews, the starving of the Third World, and for the white race".
This attack came less than a week after the previous bombing but once again failed to injure anyone. It is difficult to know the exact times of the attacks, but it is likely that there was intent to not harm anyone during most of these attacks. The intent was to leave a message and in this case that was done literally.
- 9 August 1983 - Bomb attack on the Air Algérie office in Marseilles. No-one was hurt.
This was seemingly the final act by the Charles Martel Group. If the first bombing is discounted, and to some it was not the work of the group, then this groups actions have a symmetrical irony. It started and ended with a bombing of an Air Algerie office in different parts of France. Several more bombings occurred in between, but with no casualties.
It would be correct to assume the Charles Martel Group was formed as a backlash to Algerian migration into France.