I don't really know what to make of the threat to France by Al Qaeda, but it has been suggested that even though the information regarding the threat comes from someone attempting to cross the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the threat itself is supposedly originating from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Details:
French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux, told a European television network that Saudi Arabian-supplied intelligence has described a new terror threat from al Qaeda, prompting France to placed its security and intelligence agencies on high alert.Three thoughts come to mind.
Hortefeux confirmed that “in the last few hours,” France received a warning that a potential attack was forthcoming, but did not give any specific details. Hortefeux went on record as stating that the "threat is real" adding that, "We must not underestimate or over estimate the threat. We are directly concerned."
First, noteworthy France is currently deploying the Charles De Gaulle to the region, despite the ships minor detour. As the situation develops it will be interesting to see if the French carrier projects power towards the Arabian Peninsula. Unlikely, but it is worth noting it is a potential option for France.
Second, AQAP knows the French aircraft carrier is coming their way, and given how 2010 started with AQAP threats of attacks at sea against naval targets... it raises the question whether AQAP would attempt an attack against the French aircraft carrier. Given that France will be prepared for such activity, I see this as unlikely, but some one probably said the same thing about ramming the twin towers with commercial airlines.
Finally, contrast the situation France is in with that of the UK. Here we have France, with their aircraft carrier battle group deploying at a time the nation has a specific threat to deal with essentially projecting military power to the region as a strategic option to support the defense of France at home with disruptive attacks where the enemy is should that option become necessary.
On the flip side we have the UK, busy executing political strategery in support of a jobs program to produce aircraft carriers without combat aircraft, and moving to retire the only aircraft carrier in the nations inventory capable of projecting air power. I have no idea what the budget obligations and priorities of the British government is, but whatever it is - the results of the defense budget suggest national defense is driven by a domestic agenda and was given the priority of a national afterthought.