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  • THE NEW TARGETS FBI Stings Zero In on ISIS Sympathizers. Few Have Terrorist Links.

    Trial and TerrorTrial and Terror
    Part 3
    The U.S. government has prosecuted almost 800 people for terrorism since the 9/11 attacks. Most of them never committed an act of violence.

    BOSTON POLICE CAPT. Robert Ciccolo was one of the first responders to the Boston Marathon bombings. When his 23-year-old son, Alexander, who had converted to Islam and given himself the name Ali Al Amriki, began telling his father he was “not afraid to die for the cause,” Ciccolo became alarmed. Alexander had a history of mental illness, and his interest in Islam had become an obsession. In October 2014, Ciccolo contacted the FBI about his son.

    The federal agents could have monitored Alexander, or perhaps confronted him. Instead, as the bureau does in most such cases, agents launched an investigation. They found Alexander’s Facebook page, listed under his nom de guerre. There was a photograph of a young man in a wooded area wearing a head covering and holding a machete. “Another day in the forest strengthening myself,” the caption read. Another photo on his Facebook page appeared to show a dead American soldier. “Thank you Islamic State!” read the caption.

    As part of a sting, an FBI informant contacted Alexander and offered to provide him with guns for an attack. After Alexander collected the weapons on July 4, 2015, FBI agents arrested him and charged him with terrorism-related offenses. As he was being processed at a detention center, he stabbed a nurse with a pen, causing a minor injury. His case made national news, and FBI Director James Comey told reporters that Alexander Ciccolo’s was among several plots related to the Fourth of July holiday that were foiled by counterterrorism agents. “I do believe that our work disrupted efforts to kill people, likely in connection with July 4,” Comey told reporters during a July 7, 2015, briefing.

    Alexander Ciccolo is among 63 men and women who have been arrested in FBI stings targeting ISIS sympathizers, according to an analysis of federal terrorism prosecutions by The Intercept.

    Demonstrating the evolving threat of terrorism in the United States, alleged ISIS sympathizers are now the primary targets of FBI stings, upstaging Al Qaeda, the Shabab, and all other terrorist groups. The first ISIS case in the United States culminated in an arrest in March 2014, and the number quickly grew. Fifty-eight people were charged in 2015 for alleged ISIS affiliations. In 2016, 32 FBI cases involved ISIS sympathizers, compared to just one each that year involving Al Qaeda and Shabab sympathizers.

    But as with earlier FBI stings that primarily targeted Al Qaeda sympathizers, most of the targets of the bureau’s ISIS stings are aspirational, not operational.

    In the majority of ISIS stings, targets were not in direct contact with ISIS representatives and did not have weapons of their own, government evidence showed. Instead, these targets were inspired by online propaganda to join ISIS and either made arrangements on their own to travel to Syria or were aided by FBI informants or undercover agents in their attempts join ISIS or plot attacks inside the United States.

    BOSTON, MA – JUNE 24: Boston cab drivers rallied this morning before attending a hearing, chaired by Capt. Robert Ciccolo, seen here, with Boston Police Hackney Division at Roxbury Community College regarding a proposed fare increase. (Photo by George Rizer/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) Capt. Robert Ciccolo chairing a hearing at Roxbury Community College. Photo: George Rizer/The Boston Globe/Getty Images
    After Alexander was arrested, FBI agents read him his Miranda rights. He then sat for an interview with FBI agents Paul Ambrogio and Julia Cowley.
    Dressed in a black T-shirt and jeans, he refused to talk about the guns, but he defended ISIS as a just organization, even as he demonstrated his ignorance about the group. The FBI recorded the interview.

    “ISIS claimed responsibility, right, for a lot of beheadings?” Ambrogio asked. “There’s someone who names himself Jihadi John and he beheads people, right? He does it in an online way so that people can see it. So what’s your feeling about that? They represent themselves as ISIS; they’re ISIS. What’s your feeling?”

    “The people that you see being executed are criminals,” Alexander answered. “They’re criminals. They’re the lowest of the low.”

    According to his family, Alexander, a high school dropout, had battled off and on with alcohol addiction. He was also admitted to a psychiatric institution when he was a teenager.

    As a child, he went back and forth between the homes of his father, a stern cop who did not respond to requests for comment for this story, and his mother, something of a free spirit. Alexander followed in his mother’s footsteps.

    “I raised him Catholic; he was baptized Catholic,” said Shelley MacInnes, his mother. “He stayed with his Catholic beliefs for quite a long time. I would say he is a very religious person and very spiritual, but as he got older, I think he started searching.”

    Alexander Ciccolo first gravitated toward Buddhism and spent time at the Grafton Peace Pagoda in Petersburgh, New York. In 2012, he and other members of the Peace Pagoda walked around Lake Ontario to raise awareness of the dangers of nuclear power. A photograph from the time shows him wearing a green V-neck T-shirt and holding a handwritten sign that reads: “Peace walk for no more Fukushima.”

    Shortly after, he returned to Massachusetts and announced that he would become a Muslim. “One day we were out having dinner, and he went to the bathroom,” MacInnes recalled. “He ran into an imam. … He was so excited. ‘Mom, you’re aren’t going to believe what just happened.’”

    Alexander became fixated on Islam and ISIS, and he would talk often with his parents about his newfound beliefs. “He’s always been an investigator, never takes anything at face value,” MacInnes said. “As far as ISIS goes, my personal opinion is that he was investigating the validity of that organization, rather than taking the media’s answer for it.”

    Following its sting playbook, the FBI introduced to Alexander an informant posing as an ISIS sympathizer. The informant and Alexander met for the first time in person on June 24, 2015. The young man told the informant that he wanted to travel to another state and use pressure cooker bombs to attack two bars and a police station. Over the course of a week, his plan changed from bombing bars and a police station to attacking a university. He boasted that he knew how to use sniper rifles and had grown up with guns. “I know what I’m doing,” he said.

    But Alexander didn’t have any weapons, aside from a couple of machetes. His only would-be bomb components were a pressure cooker purchased from Wal-Mart and some half-made Molotov cocktails.

    That’s where the FBI stepped in again. The undercover informant provided Alexander with two assault rifles and two handguns. As soon as Alexander took possession of the guns, FBI agents arrested him, charging him with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction. He was also charged with being a felon in possession of firearms, owing to an earlier state conviction of driving under the influence.

    BRIGHTON — Buddhist nun Jun Yasuda, left, Lauren Carlbon and Alex Ciccolo on their recent peace walk through Brighton. Ms. Yasuda and her fellow walkers are traveling 600 km around Lake Ontario to spread awareness about the dangers of nuclear energy and weapons. July 26, 2012. Alexander Ciccolo, right, along with Buddhist nun Jun Yasuda and Lauren Carlbon, on a peace walk through Brighton, Mass., July 26, 2012. Photo: Dave Fraser/Metroland Media/The Independent
    WHETHER OUT OF mental illness, immaturity, or naiveté, Alexander Ciccolo professed support for ISIS, but it’s unclear whether he would have posed a threat had the FBI informant not encouraged him and provided him with weapons. In this way, Ciccolo’s case is prototypical of ISIS stings.

    In these cases, the FBI provides encouragement and capacity to otherwise hapless individuals.

    For example, in a similar case in April 2016, the FBI arrested a South Florida man who allegedly plotted to bomb a Jewish community center. An FBI informant gave James Medina, a homeless man with a history of making baseless threats of violence, the opportunity. It was in fact the FBI informant who first came up with the idea of crediting their attack to ISIS. Farther north, in upstate New York, Emanuel L. Lutchman, another homeless man, told an FBI informant that he had received directions from an overseas ISIS member and was planning an attack, using a machete and knives, on a New Year’s Eve celebration in Rochester. The FBI’s informant provided the $40 Lutchman needed to purchase the machete and knives.

    In other ISIS stings, the FBI has encouraged and helped to facilitate the international travel of would-be ISIS recruits. An example is the case of Jason Michael Ludke, a Milwaukee man who made contact with an FBI undercover employee through social media. The FBI undercover employee, pretending to be affiliated with ISIS, encouraged Ludke and his friend Yosvany Padilla-Conde to join the terrorist group. The pair drove from Wisconsin to Texas, where they were arrested. According to Padilla-Conde’s statements after the arrest, they were under the impression that the FBI undercover employee was going to assist them in crossing the border into Mexico and then traveling to Iraq or Yemen. Ludke and Padilla-Conde are facing charges of material support for terrorists.

    The analysis of terrorism prosecutions by The Intercept shows that federal judges have wrestled with appropriate punishments for those convicted of ISIS-related terrorism offenses.

    Some defendants who were arrested before they had an opportunity to travel to Syria have received relatively lenient sentences. Mohammed Hamzah Khan, of Bolingbrook, Illinois, was arrested as he attempted to board a flight to Turkey at O’Hare International Airport. He received about three years in prison. Shannon Maureen Conley, who lived in Colorado, received about four years after she was arrested at the airport in Denver, on her way to Turkey.

    At the same time, defendants whose support for ISIS consisted of online activity, such as distributing propaganda on social media, have received comparable sentences to, and in some cases more prison time than, defendants who tried to join ISIS on the battlefield. Heather Elizabeth Coffman, of Glen Allen, Virginia, used several social media accounts to communicate with FBI informants posing as ISIS agents. She was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison. Ali Shukri Amin, who also lived in Virginia, admitted that he operated a pro-ISIS Twitter account and blog and provided instructions to ISIS supporters on how to use Bitcoin to avoid currency transfer restrictions. He was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison.

    But the most significant prison sentences await those who, like Alexander Ciccolo, moved forward with terrorist plots in the United States, even if it was the FBI making them possible. Christopher Cornell, of Cincinnati, Ohio, plotted with an FBI informant to travel to Washington, D.C., and attack the U.S. Capitol. He was arrested as he was leaving a gun store. After pleading guilty to terrorism-related charges, Cornell was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Lutchman, who was involved in the purported plans to attack a New Year’s Eve celebration in upstate New York, pleaded guilty to material support and received a 20-year prison sentence.

    It’s still too early to establish conclusive trends about the sentencing of ISIS defendants in U.S. District Courts. Of the 110 ISIS defendants charged, only 45 have been sentenced.

    Yet the arrests of ISIS sympathizers continue at a steady clip, even when the targets of stings have proven themselves to be incompetent ISIS recruits.

    An example is Mohamed Rafik Naji, of New York, who attempted five times to travel to ISIS territory but never made it. That’s when an FBI informant, posing as an ISIS affiliate, contacted him through Facebook.

    The informant told him that ISIS needed someone to attack Times Square with a garbage truck. “I was saying if there is a truck, I mean a garbage truck, and one drives it there to Times Square and crushes them,” Naji told the informant, repeating the idea. Naji was indicted in November 2016 on a charge of material support for terrorists, the 93rd person to be charged in federal court in an ISIS-related case.

    Alexander Ciccolo is now undergoing psychological evaluation; his trial is pending. MacInnes, Ciccolo’s mother, believes he was an impressionable young man manipulated by the FBI and set up with weapons that he never could have obtained on his own. “I don’t think he even knew what his plan was,” MacInnes said.

    Trevor Aaronson
    April 20 2017, 7:15 p.m.

    Find this story at 20 April 2017

    Copyright https://theintercept.com/

    Mossad Reportedly Turned French Spies Into Double Agents After Joint Syria Op

    Le Monde reveals how Israeli espionage agency allegedly exploited a successful chemical weapons operation to get French counterparts to become sources; former head of French counterintelligence agency being questioned as suspect in case.

    PARIS – An internal report written by French intelligence, parts of which were published in the daily newspaper Le Monde on Sunday, reveal efforts by the Mossad to develop relationships with French spies, “to the point of crossing the line of turning them into double agents.”
    The audit report recommends investigating Bernard Squarcini, the head of the General Directorate for Internal Security until 2012, on suspicion of maintaining unauthorized and unreported ties with the Mossad’s Paris bureau chief at the time (identified in the report only by his initials, D.K.).

    The background to all this was a joint operation launched by the Mossad and French counterintelligence agency in 2010 to collect intelligence about Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chemical warfare plans. The operation, code-named Ratafia, aimed to recruit a senior Syrian engineer, who was meant to come to France to do additional training in chemistry and also to help recruit other engineers.
    The Mossad and French agents would hold work meetings using assumed names, as is customary. The French agents, who belonged to three different counterintelligence units, were responsible for the operation in Paris, while the Mossad agents were responsible for the plot that would enable the Syrian target to leave the country for studies and to recruit others in the French capital.
    Police officers guard the General Directorate for Internal Security headquarters in Levallois Perret, outside Paris, 2015.
    Police officers guard the General Directorate for Internal Security headquarters in Levallois Perret, outside Paris, 2015.Christophe Ena / AP
    But according to the report, the Israelis exploited the operation to persuade an unknown number of French agents to also serve as intelligence sources for Israel.
    One of the French agents under surveillance was seen going up to the apartment of the Mossad’s Paris chief for dinner one Friday night. Later, he reported to his superiors that he was going to Dubai on vacation, when in fact he flew with his family to Israel, where he spent time with Mossad agents without permission and without reporting the meetings afterward.
    In addition, according to the report, suspicious sums of money were deposited in the bank accounts of those French agents who were involved in the Ratafia operation.
    The internal report calls for further investigation to understand what damage was done to the French intelligence service.
    Le Monde also published details about the Ratafia operation. The paper claimed that the Mossad succeeded in recruiting the Syrian engineer and extracted information from him about Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal.
    The French daily said the operation enabled Israel to prove that the scientific cooperation between the European Union and Syria was being used to boost Assad’s chemical weapons program, which led to the cancellation of the agreement with the Syrians in 2011.
    According to Le Monde, the Mossad’s interest in building relations with French spies was exposed because a different French espionage agency, responsible for information security, was keeping the agents under surveillance and photographed them with Mossad agents.
    The paper said that all the Mossad agents involved were identified by their real names. The French filed a formal complaint, and two Israeli diplomats in the Israeli Embassy in Paris left their posts and returned to Israel. The Mossad chief, D.K., also returned to Israel following the French complaint.
    According to the report, the two Mossad agents suspected of contacts with the French have left the service and are now private businessmen in Tel Aviv. But during 2016, the report noted, they made contact with Squarcini (the counterintelligence head they’d worked with) in Paris.
    Squarcini, who is now being questioned as a suspect in the case, told investigators he met the two “totally by chance.”
    A short time before the suspicions came to light, Squarcini himself launched an internal inquiry into whether the Mossad was trying to recruit French agents as sources. However, the agents he put under surveillance did not include those involved in the Ratafia operation, even though Squarcini was fully aware of the close ties that had developed between his people and the Mossad operatives, the report said.
    An investigating judge appointed by the French filed an official request with Israel to question the two ex-Mossad agents who made contact with Squarcini in 2016. It isn’t clear if he received a response.
    The judge is seeking to build on the internal investigative report and broaden the investigation into whether the Mossad infiltrated French intelligence under Squarcini.

    Dov Alfon Mar 27, 2017 5:40 PM

    Find this story at 27 March 2017

    Copyright http://www.haaretz.com/

    Associés dans l’opération « Ratafia », les espions français et israéliens se sont-ils espionnés entre eux ?

    Le Mossad aurait tenté d’infiltrer le service de contre-espionnage
    français dans le cadre de l’opération visant à lutter contre le
    programme d’armes chimiques syrien, à partir de 2010.

    Dans le monde de l’espionnage, si des services décident d’unir leurs
    efforts, cela n’en fait pas pour autant des amis. Rien ne les empêchera
    de s’espionner. Jamais. La preuve lors d’une opération qui a réuni, à
    partir de 2010, la sécurité intérieure française et le service secret
    israélien du Mossad pour lutter contre le programme d’armes chimiques
    développé par le régime syrien de Bachar Al-Assad.

    L’enquête de sécurité interne diligentée par la Direction centrale du
    renseignement intérieur (DCRI, devenue Direction générale de la sécurité
    intérieure en 2014) sur la tentative du Mossad d’infiltrer, à cette
    occasion, le service de contre-espionnage français illustre ces
    pratiques. Lorsque l’opération ayant pour nom de code « Ratafia »
    débute, en 2010, c’est encore l’union sacrée pour prendre au piège un
    Syrien qui doit effectuer des séjours en France. Il s’agit de l’amener à
    livrer des secrets sur le programme d’armes chimiques syrien auquel il

    Lorsque le Mossad obtient le soutien de plusieurs groupes de la DCRI et
    d’agents de la DGSE, tous ses membres agissent sous de faux noms et une
    dizaine d’entre eux sont des clandestins à l’exception de D.K., chef de
    poste du Mossad à Paris. Selon les accusations de la DCRI, auxquelles Le
    Monde a eu accès, le Mossad aurait profité du contact quotidien avec ces
    agents français lors des séjours de la cible syrienne pour nouer des
    liens jugés suspects.

    L’un des agents français a ainsi été vu fêtant le shabbat avec le chef
    de poste du Mossad à Paris, il est également parti faire du tir à Dubaï
    puis a rejoint, en famille, ses camarades du Mossad à Jérusalem. Une
    proximité revenant, selon la DCRI, à franchir la ligne jaune. Des
    soupçons portent également sur le versement de sommes d’argent en
    espèces et l’existence de cadeaux contraire aux règles internes.
    Résultat, plusieurs agents français intégrés dans l’équipe conjointe
    avec le Mossad se verront retirer leur habilitation secret défense et
    seront mutés dans des services subalternes.

    L’enquête interne de la DGSI se garde cependant de rappeler qu’un autre
    groupe de la DCRI, chargé de contre-espionnage, s’est arrangé pour
    prendre en photo, à leur insu, les agents du Mossad qui travaillaient
    avec les Français. Un audit sera, enfin, déclenché sur l’utilisation des
    fonds de l’opération « Ratafia » après la découverte de demandes de
    remboursement de frais douteux.


    Cette enquête interne a été évoquée dans le cadre d’une information
    judiciaire visant Bernard Squarcini, chef de la sécurité intérieure de
    2007 à 2012. Soupçonné d’avoir pu utiliser les moyens d’écoutes de son
    service à des fins personnelles, il s’est défendu en indiquant que le
    bref placement sur écoute d’un fonctionnaire qui lui est reproché était
    destiné à vérifier s’il n’avait pas été, à son tour, « touché » par ce
    service étranger. Ce qui se révéla infondé. « Le service de sécurité de
    la DCRI m’a informé qu’une entreprise de matériel côtoyait de très près
    des personnels ex-RG affectés aux missions de surveillance
    opérationnelle et qu’il s’agissait d’une tentative du Mossad ou de gens
    considérés comme très proches d’infiltrer le service », a ajouté M.
    Squarcini. S’il a évoqué la compromission de policiers de son service,
    il n’a, en revanche, pas dit un mot sur l’opération « Ratafia » menée
    avec le Mossad.

    La DCRI fit part de ses griefs à la hiérarchie du Mossad à Tel-Aviv.
    Deux membres de l’ambassade d’Israël à Paris furent priés de quitter la
    France, dont D. K. Ils ont quitté le Mossad et se sont reconvertis dans
    le privé. M. Squarcini a affirmé qu’il avait, par hasard, rencontré, en
    2016, ces deux hommes venus en France pour affaires.

    Fin décembre, les juges d’instruction ont émis, à l’attention de
    l’Inspection générale de la police nationale (IGPN), deux commissions
    rogatoires pour en savoir plus sur cette affaire. La première sur
    l’enquête de contre-espionnage visant le Mossad et les relations
    existant entre ce service et la DGSI, la seconde demande aux policiers
    d’entendre les deux anciens du Mossad qu’aurait rencontrés M. Squarcini.

    LE MONDE | 25.03.2017 à 11h26
    Par Jacques Follorou

    Find this story at 25 March 2017
    Copyright http://www.lemonde.fr/

    Mostefaï, kamikaze du Bataclan, sept ans en pointillés sur les radars policiers

    A la lumière de notes déclassifiées de la DGSI, «Libération» retrace le
    parcours d’Ismaël Omar Mostefaï, l’un des assaillants du 13 Novembre,
    sous-estimé par les services français.

    Rétrospectivement, c’est peut-être sur le parcours d’Ismaël Omar
    Mostefaï, l’un des trois kamikazes du Bataclan, que la faillite du
    renseignement intérieur s’avère la plus crue dans le dossier des
    attentats du 13 novembre 2015. Connu du contre-terrorisme français
    depuis 2008, le jeune homme – qui s’est fait exploser à 29 ans dans la
    salle de spectacle avec Samy Amimour et Foued Mohamed-Aggad – n’a jamais
    fait l’objet d’une surveillance assidue. Et ce, malgré près de six
    années passées au contact des sphères fondamentalistes. Une proximité
    dont la Direction centrale du renseignement intérieur (DCRI, devenue
    DGSI en 2014) avait parfaitement connaissance. Libération retrace
    l’itinéraire d’Ismaël Omar Mostefaï, à la lumière des notes
    déclassifiées sur demande des juges antiterroristes parisiens.


    Fils d’un chauffeur routier algérien aux pratiques rigoristes, Ismaël
    Omar Mostefaï grandit à Courcouronnes (Essonne). Entre 2004 et 2010, le
    jeune homme cumule décrochage scolaire et huit condamnations pénales
    pour détention de stupéfiants, violences, outrage et conduite sans
    permis. En 2005, la famille Mostefaï déménage à Chartres, où Ismaël Omar
    intègre peu à peu un groupe salafiste.

    Dès 2009, huit membres de cette cellule se réunissant dans des
    appartements font l’objet d’une attention particulière de la DCRI. Et
    pour cause : comme l’a révélé Mediapart une dizaine de jours après les
    attentats du 13 Novembre, le petit noyau de fondamentalistes est fédéré
    autour d’Abdelilah Ziyad, un prédicateur marocain au CV bien rempli. Et
    qui, surtout, n’a rien à faire dans la préfecture d’Eure-et-Loir.

    En effet, Ziyad, la soixantaine, n’est autre que le «co-instigateur des
    attentats de Fès et Marrakech», selon les notes de la DGSI que nous
    avons pu consulter. Le 24 août 1994, trois Français recrutés par Ziyad
    abattent deux touristes et en blessent un autre dans le hall de l’hôtel
    Atlas Asni de Marrakech. Arrêté en août 1995, il est jugé un an plus
    tard. A l’audience, il confesse son implication et écope de huit ans de
    prison. La peine est assortie de dix ans d’interdiction du territoire
    français. Libéré en 2001, Ziyad disparaît. Du moins momentanément.

    En 2008, l’émir est donc débusqué à Chartres. Mais la réalité est bien
    pire : en violation de son interdiction du territoire, Ziyad vit depuis
    des années sous de fausses identités à Migennes (Yonne). Il effectue
    alors secrètement des allers-retours à Chartres. C’est à son contact que
    Mostefaï épouse l’idéologie jihadiste. En août 2012, sa famille
    redéménage. Cette fois-ci, à Romilly-sur-Seine (Aube). Pile dans la
    sphère d’influence de Ziyad, qui réside à Migennes mais qui dispose
    d’attaches dans l’Aube. Cet emménagement est-il fortuit ? A l’époque, en
    tout cas, les services spécialisés ne semblent guère s’en inquiéter.
    Pourtant, à l’été 2012, Ismaël Omar Mostefaï coupe les ponts avec sa

    «Leur maître».

    Quelques semaines plus tard, le 29 septembre, il est localisé à Charmoy,
    une commune limitrophe de… Migennes. Les gendarmes arrêtent un véhicule
    avec deux personnes à bord, dont Mostefaï. Aux pandores, les deux
    acolytes expliquent chercher une rue. Pour la DGSI, cette virée a une
    tout autre motivation. Dans une note du 24 octobre 2012, le service
    intérieur écrit : «Certains membres de ce groupe [les huit salafistes de
    Chartres, ndlr] ont repris leurs déplacements dans l’agglomération de
    Migennes afin d’y rencontrer leur maître.» Un maître qui n’est autre
    qu’Abdelilah Ziyad, empruntant désormais l’identité d’Abdelmalek Bachir.
    Malgré ces éléments, qui caractérisent la volonté récurrente de Mostefaï
    de côtoyer son mentor, la DGSI n’adopte aucune surveillance poussée.
    Plusieurs mois passent. Et Mostefaï est des plus discrets. Le 6
    septembre 2013, il pénètre en Turquie avec deux hommes, dont Samy
    Amimour. Leur destination est la Syrie, ce que la France n’apprendra que
    des mois plus tard, presque par hasard. Rien dans les notes de la DGSI
    ne documente ce premier voyage au Levant. Pire, les agents se disent
    probablement que Mostefaï ne s’est jamais rendu en Syrie lorsqu’ils le
    relocalisent le 9 avril 2014 à… Chartres.

    «Combat de rue».

    Ce jour-là, le futur kamikaze participe encore à une réunion sous
    l’égide de Ziyad. Une entrevue jugée suffisamment sérieuse par la DGSI
    pour que soient engagées des mesures de surveillance de certains
    participants. D’aucuns feront l’objet d’écoutes et de filatures jusqu’en
    septembre 2015. Dans une note de ce même 9 avril, que révèle Libération,
    la DGSI écrit : «Les membres du groupe se sont entraînés physiquement en
    présence de Bachir Abdelmalek, qu’ils considèrent comme leur maître. Ils
    se sont également livrés à l’apprentissage de techniques de combat de
    rue, sous l’égide de Bachir Abdelmalek, qu’ils jugent expert en la
    matière.» Malgré ces renseignements clairs, Mostefaï est jugé
    «périphérique» et ne bénéficie, une nouvelle fois, d’aucune attention

    La suite est encore plus invraisemblable. Mostefaï part une deuxième
    fois en Syrie. Quand ? Nul ne le sait aujourd’hui. En octobre 2014, la
    France envoie une requête à la Turquie concernant le passage sur son sol
    de jihadistes présumés. Ankara retourne une liste sur laquelle figure
    Mostefaï pour… son premier séjour, celui effectué en septembre 2013.
    Quatorze mois plus tard, les autorités françaises sont enfin au parfum.
    Mais ni la DGSI ni son homologue extérieur, la DGSE, ne parviendront à
    relocaliser précisément Mostefaï et à prévenir son deuxième retour et sa
    participation à l’attentat du 13 Novembre au Bataclan, dans lequel 90
    personnes ont trouvé la mort.

    Par Willy Le Devin — 29 mars 2017 à 19:46
    Find this story at 29 March 2017

    Copyright http://www.liberation.fr/

    How French intelligence agencies failed before the Paris attacks

    Authorities knew of at least three of the Paris attackers but did not act – and ignored a warning about a potential attack

    Do the arithmetic and it is hard not to feel sympathy for the French intelligence agencies. Every day they face a dilemma created by the gap between available staff and the huge number of suspects.

    French intelligence and police have only an estimated 500-600 staff whose task is to physically follow people. But the agencies have about 11,000 people on their books classified as potential threats to national security.

    To mount an operation to monitor one person 24-hours-a-day requires about 30 to 40 people. So they have to make hard choices about which people to prioritise.

    They often get it right, foiling many plots. But when they get it wrong, as they have twice this year, first in the Charlie Hebdo attack and in last Friday’s massacre, they have come under huge pressure.

    French MPs vote to extend state of emergency after Paris attacks
    Read more
    There will inevitably be an inquiry into the failings. But the French government has already proposed new legislation introducing tougher security measures.

    Senior members of the US intelligence community, still smarting from the loss of the bulk data collection of phone records in the Freedom Act this summer, are taking advantage of events in Paris to renew arguments over surveillance.

    In New York on Wednesday, the director of the FBI, James Comey, complained that too much of the internet had gone dark. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies both needed faster and better access to communications data, he said.

    The stripped down argument is that if you have access to everything, it is easier to keep everyone secure. When there are attacks such as those in Paris, the agencies say they quickly need to search back through data to see who suspects had been talking to, helping to identify the networks and prevent potential other attacks.

    French intelligence under scrutiny in wake of Paris attacks
    Read more
    The problem with this, as with almost every terrorist incident since 9/11, is that the French intelligence agencies already knew at least three of the attackers.

    Abelhamid Abaaoud was known as an accomplice of two jihadis killed in Belgium in January. The police had a file on Omar Ismaïl Mostefai even before he travelled to Syria in 2013, while Sami Amimour had been detained in 2012 on suspected terrorist links.

    In other words, the failure of the French intelligence agencies is not that they did not have enough data – but that they did not act on what they had.

    The three could have been the subject of traditional targeted surveillance. While physical surveillance is difficult in terms of staffing, keeping tabs on their communications is less labour-intensive.

    Tracking such suspects does not require the collection of the communications data – phone records, emails, Facebook postings, chat lines – of every French citizen, only the suspects.

    One of the key arguments put forward by Comey and earlier in the week by the director of the CIA, John Brennan, is that terrorists have become better at covert communications. But the discarded mobile phone that led police to the St-Denis hideout contained unencrypted text.

    CIA chief criticises recent surveillance rollbacks in wake of Paris attacks
    Read more
    One of the biggest failings was not the French intelligence agencies’ lack of sufficient surveillance powers but the long-running lack of cooperation between European intelligence agencies – and reluctance to share information – due to fears about leaks. When they do cooperate, the process is slow – even over things as simple as translation.

    The Iraq government sent warnings to French intelligence about a potential attack that were ignored. Such warnings are regularly received by the agencies struggling to work out which ones reflect a genuine threat.

    A more serious omission is the French failure to respond to the Turkish government when it flagged up concern about Mostefai. Added to that is the lack of cooperation between France and Belgium, where some of the attackers were based.

    Such failures are where the French and US intelligence agencies should be looking, rather than exploiting the tragedy to make the case for bulk data surveillance.

    Ewen MacAskill Defence and intelligence correspondent
    Thursday 19 November 2015 18.51 GMT Last modified on Friday 20 November 2015 01.05 GMT

    Find this story at 19 November 2015

    © 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited

    Authorities missed many ‘red flags’ before Paris shootings

    In January, Turkish authorities detained one of the suicide bombers at Turkey’s border and deported him to Belgium. Brahim Abdeslam, Turkish authorities told Belgian police at the time, had been “radicalized” and was suspected of wanting to join Islamic State in Syria, a Turkish security source told Reuters.

    Yet during questioning in Belgium, Abdeslam denied any involvement with militants and was set free. So was his brother Salah – a decision that Belgian authorities say was based on scant evidence that either man had terrorist intentions.

    On Nov. 13, Abdeslam blew himself up at Le Comptoir Voltaire bar in Paris, killing himself and wounding one other. Salah is also a suspect in the attacks, claimed by the Islamic State, and is now on the run.

    In France, an “S” (State Security) file for people suspected of being a threat to national security had been issued on Ismail Omar Mostefai, who would detonate his explosive vest inside Paris’ Bataclan concert hall. Mostefai, a Frenchman of Algerian descent, was placed on the list in 2010, French police sources say.

    Turkish police also considered him a terror suspect with links to Islamic State. Ankara wrote to Paris about him in December 2014 and in June this year, a senior Turkish government official said. The warning went unheeded. Paris answered last week, after the attacks.

    A fourth attacker missed at least four weekly check-ins with French police in 2013, before authorities issued an arrest warrant for him. By that time he had left the country.

    On any one of these occasions, police, intelligence and security services had an opportunity to detain at least some of the men who launched the attacks.

    That they did not, helps explain how a group of Islamist militants was able to organize even as they moved freely among countries within the open borders of Europe’s passport-free Schengen area and beyond.

    Taken one by one, each misstep has its own explanation, security services say. They attribute the lapses in communication, inability to keep track of suspected militants and failure to act on intelligence, to a lack of resources in some countries and a surge in the number of would-be jihadis.

    But a close examination by Reuters of a series of missed red flags and miscommunications culminating in France’s biggest atrocity since World War Two puts on stark display the mounting difficulties faced by anti-terrorism units across Europe and their future ability to keep the continent safe.

    “We’re in a situation where the services are overrun. They expect something to happen, but don’t know where,” said Nathalie Goulet, who heads up the French Senate’s investigation committee into jihadi networks.

    Many point to Belgium as a weak link in European security.

    “They simply don’t have the same means as Britain’s MI5 or the DGSI (French intelligence agency),” said Louis Caprioli, a former head of the DST, France’s former anti-terrorism unit.

    Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel defended his country’s security services and praised them for doing “a difficult and tough job.” French President Francois Hollande also praised his country’s security services, who hunted down and shot dead the man they identified as the ringleader, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, five days after the attacks.

    Europol, the European Union’s police agency, says it has been feeding information to the Belgian and French authorities but acknowledges that some member states are better at sharing information than others.


    The focus of investigators over the past few years has been men and women who have grown up in Europe, have European passports and who travel to Syria to train and fight.

    As the number of those fighters has increased, authorities have struggled to keep up. The French Interior Ministry estimated about 500 French nationals had traveled to Syria and almost 300 had returned. French authorities reckon up to 1,400 people need 24-hour surveillance. Yet France has only about the same number of officers to carry out the task, a tenth of those needed.

    Some 350 people from Belgium have gone to Syria to fight – the highest per capita number in Europe. A Belgian government source said Belgium has a list of 400 people who are in Syria, have returned or are believed to be about to go there. There are another 400-500 people who authorities believe have radicalized. The number of people in the Belgian security services carrying out surveillance is believed to be considerably fewer than this.

    The numbers partially explain why many of the attackers in Paris were well-known faces still at large.

    The attacks killed 130 people at various locations, including the Bataclan concert hall where 89 concert-goers were gunned down or blown up. Others were killed outside the Stade de France sports stadium and in bars and restaurants around central Paris.

    Seven assailants died during the attacks. Abaaoud was killed in a police raid north of Paris on Wednesday along with one other suicide attacker and a woman believed to be his cousin.

    Dozens of people have also been detained, some with weapons and explosives, in raids since then.

    Abaaoud himself had been well-known to authorities for several years. After a raid in January in the Belgian town of Verviers, police suspected the 28-year-old of plotting to kidnap a police officer and kill him.

    In February, Abaaoud said in an interview with an Islamic State magazine that he had returned to Syria after the raid in Verviers. By this time, he knew he was being sought.

    If it is true that he returned to Syria from Verviers, Abaaoud made his way back into Europe at some point after January. French authorities did not know this until they were tipped off by Morocco after the attacks.

    “If Abaaoud was able to go from Syria to Europe, that means there are failings in the entire European system,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.


    Mostefai, the Bataclan suicide bomber, also traveled back and forth. Although he had eight convictions as a petty criminal, he had never been in prison, a place French authorities can watch for signs of radicalization.

    Police say they suspected him of being in Syria between late 2013 and early 2014, before returning to France unnoticed.

    In December of last year, Turkey contacted France about Mostefai. They raised an alarm again in June 2015 by letter.

    There was no response from French authorities, according to a senior Turkish government official and a security source.

    “It seemed there was a connection between this person and Daesh (Islamic State) and we reported it,” the Turkish security source said. “We followed all international procedures. But they (the French) didn’t display the same level of sensitivity.”

    French officials declined to comment on this, but say that coordination with Turkey over potential French jihadis has improved markedly in the past year.

    Determining how dangerous a person is, and whether they might carry out an attack, is a key challenge for security services, experts say.

    “The other difficulty is that if you have nothing concrete for several years, you can’t keep either a sophisticated technical alert system or human resources on a person who makes himself forgotten for three or four years,” said Arnaud Danjean, a former intelligence officer and now a member of the European Parliament.

    Bilal Hadfi, who blew himself up outside the Stade de France, was another of the suicide attackers under surveillance.

    After visiting Syria in February, the 20-year-old French national, who was living in Belgium, returned to Europe by an unknown route and evaded police even though the Belgian Justice Ministry said microphones had been placed at the house where he was thought to be staying.

    Then there’s the case of Sami Amimour. French authorities had launched an official investigation into Amimour’s possible terrorism-related activity in October 2012. Prosecutors suspected him of planning to join militants in Yemen.

    Amimour was a bus driver who had been radicalized in a mosque near his hometown of Drancy, north of Paris. Because of the investigation, police had ordered Amimour to check in with them every week. As reported by Reuters on Nov 20, he missed four weekly checks in 2013. But it was only after nearly a month that the authorities put out an international arrest warrant.

    By then Amimour was already in Syria. His tracks were picked up a year later, in December 2014, when his father gave an interview to French daily Le Monde describing how he had traveled to Syria but failed to convince his son to return.


    Police are still looking for Salah Abdeslam, who is known to have survived the attacks.

    Until six weeks before the attacks, Salah and his brother Brahim – one of the suicide bombers – were running a bar called Les Beguines on a quiet street in Molenbeek, a low-rent area of Brussels which has been linked with several attacks.

    After the attacks, Salah Abdeslam went to ground. Authorities say he was stopped on his way back to Belgium after the Paris attacks, but police waved him on. It is not clear what role he played on the night of the attacks and why he managed to survive.

    Two men who were arrested later, Mohamed Amri, 27, and 21-year-old Hamza Attou, said they brought Abdeslam back to Brussels after receiving a call from him saying his car had broken down. Police checks meant they were pulled over three times, including a last check around 9 a.m. near Cambrai just short of the Belgian border.

    Missteps did not just happen in France and Belgium.

    The Syrian passport found near one of the suicide bombers at the Stade de France had been used by a man registering himself as a refugee on the Greek island of Leros on Oct. 3. That man traveled through Macedonia and claimed asylum in Serbia, counter-intelligence and security sources said.

    The French prosecutor has confirmed that fingerprints taken on arrival in Greece showed that man traveled with a second man, who also blew himself up near the Stade de France.

    The pair may have reached Paris relatively easily because, at the height of the migration crisis in Europe this year, asylum seekers were rushed across some national borders without checks.

    It is unclear whether the passport issued under the name of Ahmad al-Mohammad, a 25-year-old from the Syrian city of Idlib, was genuine or was stolen from a refugee. Whatever the truth, it has helped fuel right-wing criticism in Europe of the number of migrants allowed in this year.

    By the time the two men were making their way up through the Balkans to western Europe, France had received more evidence an attack was imminent.

    French former anti-terrorism judge Marc Trevidic says a French Islamist he questioned on his return from Syria in August said Islamic State had asked him to carry out an attack on a concert venue.

    “The guy admitted that he was asked to hit a rock concert. We didn’t know if it would be Bataclan or another, he didn’t know the exact location that would be designated. But yes, that’s what they asked him to do,” Trevidic told Reuters.

    Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari has also said that his country’s intelligence services shared information indicating that France, as well as the United States and Iran, was being targeted for attack. He has not given details.

    Germany’s top prosecutor is also investigating allegations that an Algerian man detained at a refugee center in the western town of Arnsberg told Syrian refugees an attack was imminent in the French capital.

    Europe is scrambling to respond to the attacks.

    France declared a nationwide state of emergency which will now last three months. Police now have the power to conduct searches without obtaining judicial warrants and can hold anyone suspected of posing a threat to security under house arrest for 12 hours a day. Internet sites deemed to incite or advocate “acts of terrorism” can be blocked and public demonstrations banned.

    Belgium has also announced a security crackdown, saying it will spend an extra 400 million euros ($430 million) on security and take measures such as stopping the sale of mobile phone cards to anonymous buyers. Police will be allowed to conduct night searches of homes and it is now easier to ban, convict or expel hate preachers.

    Whether such measures will be enough is uncertain. Brussels is on high alert this weekend because of what authorities there called the “serious and imminent” threat of attack. In a video last week, Islamic State warned it would strike again.

    “When a large operation is prepared, they are told to keep a low profile in the months before. As‎ they are no longer on police radars, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack,” said Roland Jacquard, president of the Paris-based International Terrorism Observatory.

    (Robert-Jan Bartunek reported from Brussels and Orhan Coskun reported from Turkey; additional reporting by Nick Tattersall in Turkey, Alastair Macdonald in Brussels, Silvia Aloisi in Athens; writing by Timothy Heritage; editing by Alessandra Galloni, Simon Robinson, Janet McBride)

    World | Sun Nov 22, 2015 5:37am EST Related: WORLD, FRANCE

    Find this story at 22 November 2015

    Copyright http://www.reuters.com/

    Massacre du 13 novembre: les “failles dans le renseignement” commencent à apparaître

    Paris (AFP) – Comme après chaque attentat islamiste réussi, le massacre du 13 novembre va relancer la polémique sur “la faille” dans les systèmes antiterroristes français et européens. Et cette fois, comme les précédentes, il semble que les dysfonctionnements se soient accumulés.

    En l’état actuel de l’enquête, le plus grave semble être le cas de Samy Amimour: ce Français de 28 ans, soupçonné de vouloir partir pour le Yémen, est mis en examen en octobre 2012 pour “association de malfaiteurs terroristes”, placé sous contrôle judiciaire. Ce qui ne l’empêche pas de rejoindre, un an plus tard, la “terre de jihad” syrienne.

    Cela provoque l’émission d’un mandat d’arrêt international. Malgré cela, il parvient à rentrer en France incognito pour participer, vendredi soir à Paris, au pire attentat jamais commis en France.

    “On a un souci de contrôle aux frontières Schengen, et un gros”, assure à l’AFP Alain Chouet, ancien chef du service de renseignement de sécurité à la DGSE. “Son arrivée aurait dû provoquer la levée d’un drapeau rouge. Mais ces gars maîtrisent bien les techniques d’entrée et de sortie de Schengen, pour l’avoir beaucoup pratiqué”.

    “S’il a pris soin de ne pas rentrer par une frontière française, personne ne l’a vu. S’il rentre par la Belgique, par exemple par un vol low-cost à Charleroi… Allez-y à Charleroi, vous verrez les contrôles”, ajoute-t-il.

    Autre problème, un autre tireur du Bataclan, Omar Ismaïl Mostefaï, avait d’une part attiré dès 2010 l’attention des services français, qui avaient émis à son encontre une fiche S (“sûreté de l’État”), et d’autre part avait été, selon Ankara, signalé deux fois à Paris pour son appartenance à la mouvance jihadiste.

    La police turque “a informé la police française en décembre 2014 et janvier 2015” à son propos (il était entré sur le territoire turc en 2013, pour ensuite certainement rallier la Syrie), et “nous n’avons jamais eu de retour de la France”, a affirmé lundi à l’AFP un responsable turc.

    Par ailleurs d’autres membres du commando, installés en Belgique, étaient connus de la police belge. “Vous comprendrez bien que si les Belges ne nous préviennent pas, ici on ne peut rien faire”, confiait lundi à l’AFP une source policière.

    – ‘Ça m’empêche de dormir’ –

    Ces faisceaux d’indices, ces signalements, ce mandat d’arrêt international auraient dû constituer les points d’un schéma qui, en les reliant, auraient pû conduire les enquêteurs, en France ou en Belgique, à passer à l’action contre cette cellule avant qu’elle n’ensanglante Paris.

    “Il y a trois hypothèses”, explique à l’AFP un ancien spécialiste du contre-terrorisme à la DGSE, sous couvert d’anonymat. “Soit personne n’a rien vu, et c’est un gros souci; soit on a vu des trucs et on ne les a pas compris, ce qui est aussi un problème; soit on a vu des trucs et malgré tout l’équipe a pu passer à l’action.”

    “On a peut-être raté la phase de préparation terminale, celle où les types disparaissent dans la nature. Dans les trois cas, c’est très embêtant. Ça veut dire qu’on a soit un problème de renseignement, soit d’analyse du renseignement soit de chaîne de commandement dans les services. C’est accru par le fait que ça se passe en partie en Belgique”, ajoute-t-il.

    “Pour le renseignement anti-jihadiste, la Belgique est sous bouclier français. Et il faut bien le dire, alors qu’ils ont la plus grosse proportion de départs en Syrie des pays occidentaux, les Belges ne sont pas au niveau (…). Dans cette équipe beaucoup de mecs sont connus à Bruxelles, quelqu’un s’est manifestement planté.”

    Submergés par le nombre de jihadistes rentrant de Syrie et d’Irak, auxquels ils doivent ajouter les anciens des filières afghanes ou irakiennes, qui parfois reprennent du service, les services spécialisés sont contraints d’établir des listes de noms, par ordre décroissant de dangerosité présumée.

    “Ça m’empêche de dormir la nuit”, confiait récemment un des responsables de l’antiterrorisme en France. “Avoir les bons noms à la bonne place. Nous sommes très loin d’une science exacte.”

    “Par définition s’il y a eu un attentat, c’est qu’il y a eu un problème, conclut Alain Chouet. “Mais bon, on ne reproche pas les feux de forêts aux pompiers… Si vous mettez un pompier tous les cinq mètres dans les forêts de France, vous n’aurez plus de feux de forêts…”

    Publié le 16-11-2015 à 20h05
    Mis à jour à 21h36

    Find this story at 16 November 2015

    © Le Nouvel Observateur

    France Reportedly Received Warnings About at Least One of the Paris Attackers

    French officials received multiple warnings about Paris attacker Omar Ismail Mostefai before Friday’s terror attack but Turkey didn’t get a response from French authorities until after the attack, a Turkish official said on Monday.

    “On Oct. 10, 2014, Turkey received an information request regarding four terror suspects from the French authorities,” a Turkish official told the New York Times. “During the official investigation, the Turkish authorities identified a fifth individual, Omar Ismail Mostefai, and notified their French counterparts twice—in December 2014 and June 2015.”

    Mashable also quoted a senior Turkish official as saying that Mostefai, the first gunman identified in the attack, was known to security officials and that France never followed up on shared information until after the attack took place.

    “This is not a time to play the blame game, but we are compelled to share the information to shed light on Omar Ismail Mostefai’s travel history,” the senior official told Mashable. “The case of Omar Ismail Mostefai clearly establishes that intelligence sharing and effective communication are crucial to counter-terrorism efforts. The Turkish government expects closer cooperation from its allies in the future.”

    The Associated Press reported a more general warning had been given to coalition countries by senior Iraqi intelligence officials the day before the attack. The warnings were vague, though four Iraqi intelligence officials told the AP that they warned France specifically of an attack and two said they warned France beforehand about details French authorities hadn’t yet made public, including that the planning for the attack occurred in ISIS’s de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria. The officials also said a sleeper cell in France helped the attackers execute the plan after they arrived and the operation included 24 people—19 attackers and five working on planning and logistics.

    The AP also reported that a senior French security official responded to the claims by the Iraqi officials by saying French intelligence receives such warnings “all the time” and “every day.”

    Belgian’s Justice Minister Koen Geens also reportedly told CNN’s Ivan Watson that authorities knew some of the Paris attackers were foreign fighters in Syria but were unaware they had returned.

    “Belgium has a foreign fighters problem,” Geens said.

    Writing in Slate on Monday, Brian Michael Jenkins explained why even advanced knowledge about suspected ISIS sympathizers and fighters might not be enough to prevent such attacks:

    [O]ne should not underestimate the difficulties of intelligence collection in Europe today. France’s intelligence services are being overwhelmed by the many individuals who have gone to join jihadi fronts in Syria (some of whom have returned), those suspected of preparing to go, and still others suspected of being involved in plotting or supporting terrorist plots. The total number easily runs into the thousands. Keeping every one of them under close surveillance is not possible. Choices have to be made. Some plots will be thwarted. Others will inevitably evade detection.

    By Jeremy Stahl
    NOV. 16 2015 12:14 PM

    Find this story at 16 November 2015

    © 2015 The Slate Group LLC

    How the Paris Attackers Honed Their Assault Through Trial and Error

    PARIS — The gunfire had still not subsided, and those who could were running for their lives. But one man was crossing Paris to get close to the scenes of death.

    Just after 10 p.m. on Nov. 13, the man, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, parked his rented getaway car in the eastern suburb of Montreuil, leaving behind the Kalashnikov he is believed to have used to shoot diners in central Paris a half-hour before. Apparently unconcerned as security cameras recorded his movements, he boarded the No. 9 subway line and returned to the part of the city that was still under siege. Before the night was over, investigators say, he had walked past the shattered cafes and bloodied concert hall that had been among his targets.

    After a year of plotting terror in Europe but only producing four fizzled attempts, Mr. Abaaoud made sure this time was different. This time, he was on the scene, not directing from afar. This time, he monitored his team of assassins — old friends and new zealots — and surveyed the suffering. This time, investigators say, he had prepared for a second wave of assaults days later, and planned to die himself as a suicide bomber in the heart of the Paris region’s business district.

    Continue reading the main story
    How the Organizer of the Paris Attacks Slipped Through Authorities’ Hands
    Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who organized the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, crisscrossed Europe and the Middle East, even though he was on a Belgian watch list.

    A foot soldier turned lieutenant in the Islamic State’s hierarchy, Mr. Abaaoud, a 28-year-old Belgian, had been under increasing pressure to deliver something big, Western intelligence officials say. “All these operations in 2015 had been failures, embarrassing failures,” said Louis Caprioli, a former deputy head of France’s domestic counterterrorism unit. “He needed to make sure this operation succeeds.”

    Two weeks after the attacks, as France buries its dead and a lengthening list of Mr. Abaaoud’s suspected confederates are rounded up, more evidence has emerged about how the group of at least nine militants pulled off the assaults, and the intelligence and security lapses that allowed them to do so.

    There had been repeated hints of their intentions and efforts to hone their skills, according to dozens of interviews, court documents and government disclosures. Despite growing alarm in French counterterrorism circles about the threat they posed, the overburdened security apparatus proved ill equipped against an enemy practicing what one official calls “dartboard terrorism,” hurling multiple lethal darts at a distant target until one hits the mark.

    In January, the police raided a safehouse in the Belgian town of Verviers, thwarting a plot that proved to be a chilling precursor to the synchronized murder that played out across the French capital 10 months later. The raid uncovered an arsenal that included the ingredients to make the same volatile explosives used in Paris, according to an American intelligence document.

    The militants have become “more professional,” learning from their mistakes, said one intelligence official. Earlier this year, a plotter linked to Mr. Abaaoud planned to mow down the congregation at a French church but instead shot himself in the leg. But the gunmen in Paris — a majority of them battle-hardened in Syria — were well trained. After phone taps uncovered the Verviers plan, Mr. Abaaoud began using encryption technology and may have concealed his communications in that way with his Paris team, intelligence officials said.

    Continue reading the main story
    State of Terror
    Articles in this series examine the rise of the Islamic State and life inside the territory it has conquered.

    Exploiting Europe’s passport-free zone and patchy intelligence sharing, Mr. Abaaoud and his team moved not just across the Continent, but also to Syria and back. They did so despite being questioned at airports, flagged by security services or pulled over during routine traffic stops.

    “Abaaoud was in the database of every single European country, but he returned to Europe like he was going on a vacation to Club Med,” said the mother of an 18-year-old Belgian jihadist who died earlier this year after joining the same Islamic State brigade to which several of the Paris plotters belonged.

    The attack in Paris was the deadliest terrorist assault on the Continent in a decade, killing 130 people. It reverberated across the region, forcing Brussels to lock down for four days, spurring Germany to cancel a soccer match and prompting Britain to increase its military budget after years of cutbacks.

    Trying to reassure a grieving nation, President François Hollande of France has pledged to defeat the Islamic State’s “cult of death.” Yet intelligence officials warned of the West’s vulnerabilities. Paris, they fear, heralds a new era of terror, one that could play out on the streets of European capitals for years to come.

    “They try, they fail, they learn, they try again,” said one French official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “They have patience and they have an army of willing martyrs that feed on an ideology that is immune to bullets.”

    Continue reading the main story

    The Expanding Web of Connections Among the Paris Attackers
    Warning Signs

    Earlier this year, an official at Europol, the Continent’s law enforcement agency, paid an urgent visit to Athens to ask for help tracking down a Belgian named Abdelhamid Abaaoud, according to news media reports.

    For months, investigators had been intercepting suspicious calls originating near Pangrati, a neighborhood of Athens, said a retired European official who was briefed on the details.

    Mr. Abaaoud, then 27, appeared to be planning an attack in his native land — a possibility considered improbable at first. He seemed like other young Europeans who had joined the Islamic State: a fanatic who made grandiose threats online, but did not have the know-how or the network to pull off mass murder on European soil.

    But after the calls were tracked to Verviers, a SWAT team raided a residence there on Jan. 15, turning up evidence of surprising sophistication. The police found automatic weapons, a large quantity of cash, a body camera, multiple cellphones, hand-held radios and fraudulent identification documents, according to a United States Department of Homeland Security intelligence assessment.

    Continue reading the main story

    Paris Victims, Remembered
    They also found the precursor chemicals for the explosive triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, according to the document, which was the same chemical compound used in the suicide belts in Paris. The compound is highly volatile, according to Claude Moniquet, who spent two decades at the French spy agency D.G.S.E. “If you don’t get it just right, you’ll either blow off your hand, or it won’t go off at all,” Mr. Moniquet said. “It suggests the presence of a bombmaker.”

    The discovery set off a manhunt in Greece, but Mr. Abaaoud’s SIM card stopped transmitting immediately after the raid. The police found his DNA in an Athens apartment, according to news media reports. But officials lost his trail.

    A few weeks later, Mr. Abaaoud resurfaced in the Islamic State’s online magazine, bragging about having plotted terrorism under the noses of the European authorities. “My name and picture were all over the news yet I was able to stay in their homeland, plan operations against them, and leave safely,” he said.

    Until then, said David Thomson, the author of a book on French jihadists, Mr. Abaaoud had been seen inside the Islamic State as nothing special. “They spoke of him as they would of anyone else — and not as an important guy,” Mr. Thomson said.

    If anything, he was known mostly for his appearance in a grotesque Islamic State video, whooping and laughing while dragging corpses behind a 4-by-4 truck.

    Continue reading the main story

    How ISIS Expanded Its Threat
    Yet Europe’s most notorious jihadist was once a hapless delinquent.

    In 2010, he planned to break into a garage in the Belgian countryside with a childhood friend. But he slipped off the roof, and the pair were later found soaking wet and nearing hypothermia on a river edge, recalled his former lawyer, Alexandre Château.

    The bungled burglary was unremarkable, but the partnership was not: His accomplice was one of two brothers who would later be at Mr. Abaaoud’s side during the Paris attacks.

    Mr. Abaaoud’s father said his son began showing signs of extremism after a stint in prison.

    On March 23, 2013, the authorities intercepted a call Mr. Abaaoud made on a Turkish cellphone to a friend in Belgium. He said he was leaving for “The Camp,” according to court records. His brother told Belgian security officials that Mr. Abaaoud had said he was going to Syria “to do jihad,” according to a court transcript.

    An Improbable Survival
    Continue reading the main storyVideo
    An Improbable Survival
    Sébastien rescued a woman hanging from the window of the Bataclan concert hall in Paris. Then he survived a two-hour hostage standoff. By DEBORAH ACOSTA on Publish Date November 18, 2015. Photo by Daniel Psenny/Le Monde. Watch in Times Video »
    When the police went to search his home in the Molenbeek district of Brussels months later, the items found inside his abandoned residence included pepper spray, gloves and two crowbars, along with the keys to a stolen Audi and three license plates.

    Inscriptions praising the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, were on his door. On the wall, the court filing noted, was “a crude drawing of the ISIS flag, drawn with a marker.”

    Sometime between late 2013 and early 2014, he joined a brigade called the Mujahedeen Shura Council based in Aleppo, Syria, which would soon pledge allegiance to the Islamic State.

    One of his first jobs was searching the bodies of freshly killed troops. “He was in charge of emptying the pockets of cadavers after battle,” Mr. Thomson said.

    Even when Mr. Abaaoud — by then called Abou Omar — joined the Katibat al-Battar, or Battar Brigade, an elite squad made up of French-speaking fighters that rose to prominence in 2014 within the Islamic State, his name surfaced only in passing, said Mr. Thomson, who spent months exchanging private messages with the French members of the unit as research for his book.


    In January, the police raided a terrorist safe house in Verviers, Belgium, and uncovered an arsenal of weapons. Credit Olivier Hoslet/European Pressphoto Agency
    That changed abruptly after the Verviers plot. Though the operation had failed, Mr. Abaaoud’s ability to travel in and out of Europe impressed his fellow fighters in Syria, turning him from an ordinary soldier into an inspiration. “They would say, ‘Look at Abou Omar,’ ” Mr. Thomson recalled. “By which they meant: ‘If Abou Omar succeeded, then anyone can.’ ”

    Battlefield Bonds

    Investigators say they believe that it was in Syria that Mr. Abaaoud and most of the Paris attackers found one other.

    As early as 2013, a well-established pipeline was funneling young men from Belgium to the Islamic State. Some took out loans with few questions asked from institutions like ING Belgium, where one future jihadist received 15,000 euros, or about $15,800, according to a recent court filing. Others bought cheap “burner” phones that are often discarded in an effort to avoid detection. One man stole flashlights and GoPro cameras, a favored tool for recording atrocities, according to court documents.

    They knew to leave via trains or buses to other European countries before boarding flights to Turkey, evading relatively greater scrutiny at airports in their home countries.


    A photograph of Abdelhamid Abaaoud that was published in the Islamic State’s online magazine Dabiq. Credit via Associated Pres
    Mr. Abaaoud, for example, accompanied his 13-year-old brother, Younes, to Syria, apparently by first making their way by land to Germany.

    On Jan. 20, 2014, they checked in for a flight to Istanbul from Cologne. At passport control, an alert flashed: Mr. Abaaoud was on a Belgian watch list. When he claimed to be visiting family in Turkey, he was allowed to proceed.

    Even when suspects are properly classified, they can fall through the cracks because of the lack of a centralized European database. There are currently 1,595 jihadists in the Europol terror database, said Jean-Charles Brisard, who has testified as an expert witness in terrorism trials. The actual number, if European countries shared their information more efficiently, should be well over 6,000, he said.

    Many of the future Paris attackers ended up in the Battar brigade in Syria. Only Mr. Abaaoud and the two brothers from Molenbeek, Salah and Ibrahim Abdeslam, appear to have known one other before they were radicalized.

    Several came from intact, middle-class families, including Mr. Abaaoud, a shop owner’s son who had been sent to an exclusive Catholic school. Second- and third-generation immigrants of Moroccan and Algerian descent, the attackers included a bus driver, a bar owner and a mechanic for the Brussels Métro. The oldest was 29, the youngest just 20 — he wept, his mother recalls, the day he left for Syria.


    The plotters Clockwise from top left; Samy Amimour, one of the suicide bombers who attacked the Bataclan concert hall; an unidentified man, one of the suicide bombers at the Stade de France stadium; Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected architect of the Paris attacks; Ibrahim Abdeslam, a Bataclan attacker; Ismaël Omar Mostefaï, a Bataclan attacker; an unidentified man suspected of being involved in the attacks; Bilal Hadfi, one of the suicide bombers at the stadium; and Salah Abdeslam, who remains at large. Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
    Some had criminal records, and their families were reassured at first when they began to show signs of piety.

    Mohammed Abdeslam said he had believed his two brothers were cleaning up their act. “When your brother tells you that he will stop drinking, it’s not radicalization,” he told a Belgian broadcaster.

    Bilal Hadfi, the youngest of the group, had been smoking and doing drugs until one month before his departure to Syria in January, his mother told the Belgian news media, and started fasting on Mondays and Thursdays.

    “He was by no means the cliché you’d expect,” recalled one of his mentors at the Instituut Anneessens-Funck in Brussels, where Mr. Hadfi, 20, was studying to become an electrician. “He didn’t have a beard.” He had “excellent grades” and was “extremely intelligent,” said the professor, who asked to remain anonymous in talking about a student. Then Mr. Hadfi stopped coming to class.

    Mr. Hadfi is believed to have arrived in Syria last, on Jan. 15, eventually joining a team that included two hardened French jihadists: Ismaël Omar Mostefaï, a 29-year-old from the Courcouronnes suburb of Paris, and Samy Amimour, a 28-year-old bus driver from Drancy, northeast of the French capital.


    A mosque outside Chartres, France, that was attended by Ismaël Omar Mostefaï, whose contact with hard-line Islamists prompted officials to a database of those considered a potential security risk. Credit Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times
    Mr. Mostefaï was arrested eight times for petty crimes, and in 2010 his contact with hard-line Islamists at the local mosque prompted officials to add his name to the “S list,” a French database of those considered a potential security risk.

    Mr. Amimour’s route to jihad began with an aborted trip to Yemen in 2012. After he stopped reporting to the police station in September 2013 as required, it took a month for an arrest warrant to be issued. By then, he had crossed into Syria — the same day as Mr. Mostefaï, officials say they believe.

    As Frenchmen, the two would most likely have come across an older French jihadist who had already made a name for himself in the Islamic State: Fabien Clain, who had been to prison for recruiting fighters from France and Belgium to Iraq a decade ago. Mr. Clain, investigators said, was the speaker in an Islamic State audio recording claiming responsibility for the Paris massacre.

    Intelligence officials call him a “bridge” between the French and Belgian jihadists who may have facilitated links between Mr. Abaaoud and his fellow plotters. Described as one of the most senior operatives in the Islamic State hierarchy, he works under Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, the group’s chief of external operations. Mr. Abaaoud was lowlier, “a platoon leader, not the head of the armed forces,” said François Heisbourg, a former defense official and counterterrorism expert.

    By August, Mr. Abaaoud’s blueprint and team for attacking Europe may have been nearly ready.


    Marc Trévidic, who served as France’s chief antiterrorism judge until three months ago, said he had heard Mr. Abaaoud’s name numerous times over the past year. Credit Remy De La Mauviniere/Associated Press
    That month, Montasser AlDe’emeh, the author of two books on jihad and a former neighbor of Mr. Abaaoud’s in Molenbeek, heard his phone vibrate with a WhatsApp message. It was an audio recording from a Belgian jihadist in the same unit as Mr. Abaaoud.

    “This is a message for the Belgian government from the mujahedeen of ISIS,” the audio begins. “It’s not a threat or a stupid thing, or just talk. This is a declaration of war. We have the plans.”

    Raising the Alarm

    The man who served as France’s chief antiterrorism judge until three months ago had heard Mr. Abaaoud’s name numerous times over the past year. Dozens of young French Muslims returning from Syria were brought to his office for questioning.

    “Abaaoud came up all the time,” the judge, Marc Trévidic, recalled in an interview last week. “Especially after the January raids in Verviers.”


    Fans left the Stade de France after the soccer game between France and Germany amid confusion caused by the attacks in the area. Credit Christophe Ena/Associated Press
    It was always the same story: Mr. Abaaoud had told his young disciples to “do whatever they can” to inflict death and damage at home. They described him as obsessed. “He was mentioned as someone who wanted, at all cost, to recruit volunteers to carry out attacks in Belgium and France,” said Mr. Trévidic, now vice president of the high court in Lille, northern France.

    But there was never a specific target, nor a date for an attack. The mission was always vague.

    That changed on Aug. 15. In one of the last interviews the judge conducted, he found himself opposite a young Frenchman who had been handed money, encryption software and the most concrete target to date: “a rock concert hall” in Paris.

    The young man, Reda Hame, had been arrested coming back from Syria, accompanied by a Muslim from Belgium. His companion had told the police that Mr. Hame was planning an attack in France.

    Mr. Abaaoud had asked Mr. Hame to hit a soft target where he could achieve “maximum casualties.” He had given Mr. Hame an email address to reach him on and a USB stick with an encryption key he was to download on his computer. Mr. Abaaoud had promised further instructions by email on where to obtain weapons for the attack and which specific concert hall to strike.


    Emergency workers removed the bodies of victims at a cafe in Paris. Credit Philippe Wojazer/Reuters
    It was two weeks before Paris’s annual Rock en Seine musical festival. Was the target one of dozens of concerts playing over the three-day event in a Paris suburb? Was it one of the city’s many other music venues, like the Bataclan, which had been mentioned as a possible target at least twice before?

    Mr. Trévidic placed an urgent call with the domestic intelligence services, the D.G.S.I., and asked them to trace Mr. Abaaoud’s email address.

    “From late summer we knew something big was being planned,” said one French intelligence official. “We knew Abaaoud was involved in it but we didn’t know what, or where, or when. Everyone was on high alert.”

    The sense of alarm only spread when, six days after Mr. Hame’s interview, a 26-year-old Moroccan, Ayoub El Khazzani, also linked to Mr. Abaaoud, stepped out of the bathroom of a high-speed train barreling toward Paris with a Kalashnikov before being subdued by three Americans.

    With hindsight, some suggest the lone-wolf style attacks — single gunmen sent on missions to kill — that were thwarted in recent months were never the main focus. Whatever his intention, Mr. Trévidic said, Mr. Abaaoud “kept security services busy and distracted with these mini-plots while preparing the real attack.”

    Continue reading the main story
    Three Hours of Terror in Paris, Moment by Moment
    Many of the attacks were just minutes apart.

    The United States had also picked up intelligence in recent months that showed the Islamic State was plotting an attack in France, senior American officials said. But they had nothing specific about targets or timing.

    By late September, Mr. Hollande’s government launched airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria.

    On Oct. 8 and 9, French fighter jets targeted training camps near Raqqa, the stronghold of the self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria. Mr. Hollande has publicly denied that the strikes were targeting an individual. But according to two Western intelligence officials, the hope was also to take out operatives including Mr. Abaaoud.

    “When you don’t know where to hit the enemy here, you have to try to hit him over there,” Bernard Squarcini, the former head of France’s domestic intelligence agency, said in an interview.

    A Calculated Attack

    While the security services had their eyes on Syria, most if not all of Mr. Abaaoud’s team was already back in Europe, quietly putting in place the modern logistics of mass murder.

    At least two are believed to have entered through the refugee flow on the Greek island of Leros, where the authorities fingerprinted them in October.

    In the period leading up to the attack, the support network expanded — though just how far is not yet clear — to include radicalized family members and loyal friends, landlords and online arms dealers. Mr. Abaaoud’s cousin helped hide him after the attacks before dying alongside him in a police raid. Five friends of Salah Abdeslam, who dumped his suicide vest in a trash can and remains at large as the only surviving member of the attackers, have been arrested in Belgium for allegedly helping him escape. In Germany, one man who may have sold the group assault rifles over the Internet was placed in custody last week.

    The plan involved three teams, whose members set off in at least three rental cars from Belgium and booked rooms in at least two locations in and around Paris, including two hotel rooms in the suburb of Alfortville and a house with bunk beds in Bobigny. Like tourists, they used online services including Booking.com and Homelidays.com, with the Abdeslam brothers handling the logistics.

    In September, Salah Abdeslam made a foray to the edges of Paris to buy half a dozen electronic components used to make fireworks explode. He spent 390 euros in Les Magiciens du Feu, or “Fire Magicians” shop, said the shop’s in-house lawyer, Frédéric Zajac. “Unlike other clients, he did not ask any questions about how it all worked,” he said.

    Mr. Abaaoud had learned from past mistakes: Unlike the plot in January, when his accomplices were still searching for an ice machine to store the TATP explosive, he made sure they had refrigerators. At the Appart’City hotel where four of the attackers stayed, rooms come with a kitchenette.

    And rather than sending a single gunman or picking a single target, Mr. Abaaoud sent teams to a variety of locations — hedging the risk of failure and forcing the police to spread themselves thin. “They found out that if you use this ‘swarm theory’ you will exhaust the resources of law enforcement,” explained Ron Sandee, the former chief Al Qaeda analyst for Dutch military intelligence.

    The roster for each team suggests more forethought: The two jihadists with more than four years of battlefield experience in Syria between them, Mr. Amimour and Mr. Mostefaï, were assigned the most important target, the Bataclan, with a third, still-unidentified man. Witnesses say they saw the Bataclan gunmen flanking each other, with one fighter reloading his magazine while another kept firing.

    By contrast, the attackers at the Stade de France, the national soccer stadium, included the youngest and least experienced jihadist — the 20-year-old Mr. Hadfi. He was dropped off strapped with an explosive belt that needed only detonating. (Neither of the other two suicide bombers at the stadium has been identified.) “They said to themselves, ‘The kids will get as far as they can,’ ” and after that only need to “hit a button,” said Mr. Moniquet, a veteran of France’s intelligence agency who now directs the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center.

    Mr. Abaaoud himself was believed to have gone to a busy stretch of restaurants on the Rue de Charonne, equipped with the Kalashnikov that was later recovered bearing his DNA. Phone records released by the French prosecutor indicate that he left the house at Bobigny in a rented Seat car at 8:38 p.m. accompanied by another still-unidentified attacker and Ibrahim Abdeslam, his accomplice in the bungled garage theft five years ago.

    It remains unclear if Mr. Abaaoud joined his troops to fire on the bars and cafes, though it seems likely: Witnesses saw gunmen leaning out of the black Seat rental car, and in front of each shattered establishment, investigators recovered “hundreds” of 7.62-millimeter cartridges, according to the French prosecutor.

    Between 8:40 p.m. and 9:21 p.m. the phone “most probably” used by Mr. Abaaoud was in “sustained contact” with the one used by Mr. Hadfi, according to the Paris prosecutor. That was when Mr. Hadfi tried to enter the soccer stadium near Gate D, only to be turned away.

    Moments later, at 9:20, he detonated the explosive.

    The last attempted call between the two phones came a minute later — the platoon leader checking up on the recruit.

    Correction: December 3, 2015
    Because of a transcription error, an article on Tuesday about the intelligence and security lapses that allowed the Paris attackers to practice their assault misstated the size of the cartridges recovered by investigators in front of the bars and cafes targeted. They are 7.62 millimeters, not 0.762.

    Reporting was contributed by Nabih Bulos, Aurelien Breeden and Lilia Blaise from Paris; Eric Schmitt from Washington; Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura and Andrew Higgins from Brussels; and Alison Smale from Berlin.

    Get news and analysis from Europe and around the world delivered to your inbox every day with the Today’s Headlines: European Morning newsletter. Sign up here.

    A version of this article appears in print on December 1, 2015, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: A Plot Honed by Trial and Error . Order Reprints| Today’s Paper|Subscribe

    Find this story at 30 November 2015

    © 2015 The New York Times Company

    Paris attacks ‘ringleader’ Abdelhamid Abaaoud evaded Athens police

    Greek police tried to capture the suspected ringleader of the Paris terror attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, in January but the operation failed.
    A Belgian anti-terrorism source told the BBC the Athens operation planned to target Abaaoud before anti-terror raids in Belgium, but that did not happen.
    Abaaoud had been directing the Belgian cell by phone from Athens.
    Abaaoud died in a battle with French police five days after the 13 November Paris attacks that killed 130 people.
    The Greek operation was supposed to have taken place before the one carried out by security forces in Verviers, eastern Belgium, on 15 January. That raid saw an exchange of fire that left two suspected jihadists dead.

    DNA samples

    Greek authorities were on Abaaoud’s trail, believing him to be running the Belgian cell by mobile phone from Athens.
    Anti-terror sources told the BBC that a senior Belgian police officer was in Athens co-ordinating the hunt for Abaaoud with his Greek counterparts before the raid on the Verviers cell.
    It remains unclear why or how Abaaoud slipped through the Greek net. There may have been an attempt to track him down to a city centre square by tracing the signal of his mobile phone. But that did not work.
    The Greek authorities are not confirming any details – all that is known is that he got away.
    Greek police only carried out raids in Athens two days after Verviers, on 17 January.
    Earlier that day Belgian media had reported that authorities there were seeking Abaaoud, a Brussels resident of Moroccan origin, who was believed to be in hiding in Greece.
    Police in Verviers. 15 Jan 2015Image copyrightEPA
    Image caption
    The Verviers raid left two suspected jihadists dead
    Greek police raided two flats in Athens.
    One Algerian man was eventually extradited to Belgium but Abaaoud was not to be found.
    It is now known that traces of DNA recovered in both flats match samples recovered from Abaaoud’s body in Paris.
    A neighbour at one of the flats, Vasilis Katsanos, said he had seen Abdelhamid Abaaoud in the street outside on at least two occasions.
    Abdelhamid Abaaoud had been implicated in four out of six foiled attacks since this spring in France and sentenced to 20 years in prison in absentia, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has said.
    Abaaoud is not the only link between Greece and the Paris attacks.
    Salah Abdeslam – who is still on the run – travelled to Greece by ferry from Italy on 1 August, leaving three days later.
    And two of the suicide bombers who attacked the Stade de France crossed by boat from Turkey to the island of Leros in October, posing as refugees.
    Much of the detail that has emerged in Athens raises questions about how to create a better exchange of information and closer cooperation between anti-terrorism authorities in different European countries.
    But the link with Abaaoud is also a what-might-have-been.
    If he had been captured in Athens in January, the attacks in Paris might never have taken place.

    By Chris Morris
    BBC News, Athens
    8 December 2015

    Find this story at 8 December 2015

    © 2015 BBC

    Correction: Serbia-Paris-Guns story

    The head of a Serbian arms factory Milojko Brzakovic speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015. Brzakovic of the Zastava arms factory told the Associated Press Thursday that the M92 semi-automatic pistol was traced after its serial number matched the one delivered to an American arms dealer in May 2013.

    BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — In a Dec. 10 story, The Associated Press incorrectly reported that a gun exported by a Serbian manufacturer to a Florida-based company was involved in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks. In fact, the gun in question was not involved in the attacks and has been in Mexican government custody since March of this year, according to U.S. authorities.

    The AP report was based on information from the Serbian gun manufacturer Zastava, which cited to AP an advisory from the Serbian Interior Ministry. The advisory quoted Interpol authorities as saying a gun manufactured by Zastava with a particular serial number was used in Paris. The AP story should have made clear that the connection between a Zastava gun with that serial number and the Paris attacks was based only on this advisory.

    Zastava said it exported a gun with that serial number to Delray Beach, Florida-based Century Arms in 2013. According to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the gun was received by Century and eventually sent to a federal firearms licensee in the United States and purchased by an individual in February 2014. In March of this year it was recovered at a crime scene in Mexico and is still in the custody of Mexican officials, ATF said.

    Serbian authorities declined to provide any additional details this week on the advisory cited by Zastava or what it was based on. Interpol said it could not provide additional material because it only acts as a clearinghouse for information among police agencies. Interpol said it would defer to the information from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on the case.

    Dec. 18, 2015 2:15 PM EST

    find this story at 18 December 2015

    © 2015 Associated Press

    One Major Paris Mystery: What Happened to the Shooters in the Black Car?

    Many accounts of the investigation into Friday’s Paris terror attacks have described seven attackers who are known to be dead and one suspect, Salah Abdeslam, who’s known to be alive. Those eight individuals constitute the three suicide bombers who attacked the Stade de France area, three who attacked the Bataclan theater, one who blew himself up in a café near the center of the city, and the still-missing Abdeslam, whose role is unclear. But the individuals responsible for the machine-gun attacks on bars and restaurants in Paris’ city center in which more than 30 people were killed have not been identified, while a breaking report from the AP says authorities are now seeking a “second fugitive” who was directly involved in the attacks. From the wire service:
    Three French officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday that an analysis of the attacks showed that one person directly involved in them was unaccounted for. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to provide details about the ongoing investigation, said the second fugitive has not been identified.
    The shooting attacks in the city center were reportedly carried out by gunmen traveling in a black SEAT León car at four restaurants/bars in three different locations: First at the Petit Cambodge restaurant and nearby Carillon bar, then at a pizzeria called Casa Nostra, then at a bar called Belle Équipe. A black SEAT León with three Kalashnikov rifles inside was then found abandoned early Sunday morning in the Paris suburb of Montreuil.

    Who were the gunmen traveling in that car and where are they now? One of the men could have been Ibrahim Abdeslam, Salah’s brother, who blew himself up at a café called Comptoir Voltaire near the other shooting sites after the shootings had already taken place. Salah Abdeslam, meanwhile, was apparently stopped on Saturday near the Belgian border in a car with two other men but wasn’t detained because the officers who stopped him didn’t realize or hadn’t been told that he was a suspect. (Abdeslam’s two companions have since been found and arrested, but he’s still missing.) It seems possible that the pair of brothers and the AP’s “second fugitive” had something to do with the restaurant shootings and that Salah Abdeslam could have ditched the SEAT León before fleeing for Belgium. But four days after dozens were killed at Petit Cambodge, Carillon, Casa Nostra, and Belle Équipe, we still don’t know for sure who was responsible for killing them and whether those attackers are still at large.

    By Ben Mathis-Lilley
    NOV. 17 2015 1:23 PM

    Find this story at 17 November 2015

    © 2015 The Slate Group LLC.

    Metadata Surveillance Didn’t Stop the Paris Attacks

    And yet intelligence officials and politicians are now saying it could have. They’re wrong.

    Since terrorists struck Paris last Friday night, the debate over whether encryption prevents intelligence services from stopping attacks has reignited. The New York Times and Yahoo reported on vague claims that the terrorists’ use of encryption stymied investigators who might have thwarted their plans. CIA Director John Brennan made equally vague comments Monday morning, warning that thanks to the privacy protections of the post-Snowden era, it is now “much more challenging” for intelligence agencies to find terrorists. Jeb Bush piled on, saying that the United States needs to restore its program collecting metadata on U.S. phone calls, even though that program won’t be shut down until the end of this month.

    Following a terrorism incident as shocking as the Paris attacks, it is no surprise that politicians and the intelligence establishment would want to widen American spying capabilities. But their arguments are conflating the forest—bulk metadata collection—and the trees: access to individual communications about the attack. To understand why that’s the case, start with this tweet from former NSA and DHS official Stewart Baker: “NSA’s 215 program”—and by association the far larger metadata dragnet of which the domestically focused phone-metadata program is just a small part—“was designed to detect a Mumbai/Paris-style attack.”

    Only it didn’t.

    The metadata surveillance system appears to have failed before it even got to the encryption stage.
    The United States and United Kingdom’s metadata collection that focuses on the Middle East and Europe is far more extensive than the phone dragnet being shut down later this month, and its use has far more permissive rules. This dragnet is mostly limited by technology, not law. And France—which rewrote its surveillance laws after the Charlie Hebdo attack earlier this year—has its own surveillance system. Both are in place, yet neither detected the Nov. 13 plot. This means they failed to alert authorities to the people they should more closely target via both electronic and physical surveillance. In significant part, this system appears to have failed before it even got to the stage at which investigators would need to worry about terrorists’ use of encryption.

    To understand why that’s true, it helps to understand how the metadata dragnet relates to surveillance of content as well as human spying.

    In most public comments going back to the initial leaks from Edward Snowden (and in Baker’s tweet from the weekend), authorities have made a shaky claim: that the surveillance dragnet is “designed to detect” an attack like Paris. Based on that claimed purpose, their dragnets are failing.

    But that claim was always an oversimplification. It oversold the importance of the dragnet, by itself, such that citizens might more willingly tolerate the collection of highly revealing personal details. Because it doesn’t include the actual content of our conversations, call metadata doesn’t seem especially intimate; if it’s the only thing authorities say they need to prevent a big terrorist attack, citizens might easily conclude that they’re fine with the government collecting it. But the claim also served to hide how quickly metadata analysis can lead to the reading of content.

    The intelligence community has given us a more nuanced understanding of the purpose of the metadata dragnet, however, in a National Academy of Sciences paper on “Bulk Collection of Signals Intelligence” released earlier this year. President Obama asked for the paper in early 2014 to assess whether the intelligence apparatus could accomplish what it currently does with metadata dragnets (both those conducted in the U.S. and overseas) via more targeted data collection.

    The NAS report measured the dragnet in terms of three functions:

    Contact chaining, which maps out networks of people based on whom they communicate or even spend time with.

    Identifying and keeping current all known identifiers (phone numbers, email addresses, device identifiers, IP addresses, Internet IDs) a person of interest uses. This is done, in part, by using algorithms to match up the communication patterns of different accounts.

    “Triaging” the identifiers collected to categorize the urgency of the threat to national security from the party associated with each one.
    If the dragnet accomplishes its purpose, it will provide a fairly comprehensive picture of who is communicating or hanging out with whom, connect all the known communications identities of any given person (which is critical to developing a comprehensive picture of someone’s network and the communications tools he uses), and then use those pictures to identify who poses threats that should be followed more closely.

    If the metadata dragnet works, that can happen even with encrypted communication.

    It’s only through that process that authorities get around to actually reading content. Authorities will use the metadata dragnet, for example, to choose what content to keep from bulk content collection. It’s likely they’ll collect, but maybe not immediately read, communications that are one or two degrees of separation from identifiers of interest just in case it becomes interesting later. Importantly, the NSA will even keep encrypted communications that, because of their metadata, are of interest.

    The metadata dragnet also helps the intelligence community decide whom to target in its bulky Section 702 PRISM collection, which last year affected more than 92,000 targets and everyone they communicated with. Here, rather than doing the bulk collection itself, the NSA capitalizes on the fact that much of the world uses American tech companies like Google and Facebook to conduct (and often, store) its online communications. So when the triaging process identifies new foreign identifiers that seem important, NSA can ask the tech companies to preserve and share on an ongoing basis everything that’s associated with that identifier, including more metadata. In most cases, NSA will get the content of communications those identifiers have, which they’ll read and store and pull up again in the future if a related identifier is involved.

    There are a few exceptions where officials cannot get the contents of communications via PRISM because they’re encrypted at the user level, rather than server level. The most important of these exceptions are WhatsApp and iMessage (and the latter only if users have opted not to use Apple’s cloud to store their communications), as well as any communications users have encrypted on their own. The NSA can’t get this content from Facebook, Apple, or other providers, but it can get metadata, so for users of interest, surveilers should at least know who is communicating with whom as well as some other useful details about them, though not what they’re saying.

    For WhatsApp and iMessage users of interest, as well as those using their own encryption, the intelligence agencies will seek ways to bypass the encryption, often by hacking a user’s device or identifying his IP address and then accessing other devices or Internet accounts using that IP.

    Importantly, however, it takes the triaging process or a particular event (like Friday’s attack) to identify users of such importance that the NSA will make the effort to conduct more targeted spying.

    Finally, there’s old-fashioned physical surveillance and human intelligence, asking people to spy on others. As reflected by the CIA’s recent decision to add a digital innovation unit, even old-fashioned spying is increasingly guided and assisted by communications technology, both in identifying targets but also finding ways and information to compromise those targets. Numerous declassified reports make it clear the FBI uses the American phone dragnet to identify people who might make useful informants. (It also sometimes uses communications content to find intelligence they can use to coerce that cooperation.) Presumably, other intelligence services do the same.

    For targets in a known location that are using very good communications security (by using encryption and ensuring their multiple identities cannot be correlated, not even with geolocation), physical surveillance of known targets (as several of the Paris perpetrators were by authorities) is always an option. The problem with that is it is very time- and labor-intensive—and because France and Belgium have so many potentially dangerous extremists, selecting whom would get that level of attention requires a very good combing process.

    It all comes back to this triage, which is in significant part about how well the intelligence community uses that forest of metadata to pick whom it should target.

    “Knowing who someone communicates with is metadata, not content, and most encrypted protocols (e.g. WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.) don’t change this,” Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute at UC–Berkeley explains. “In attempting to identify actual threat actors, ‘this person is communicating with ISIS’ is probably all you need to justify more intensive targeted actions, such as system compromise, that bypass any effects of encryption.”

    There are a number of reasons why the dragnet might not work as planned. Some important metadata may be missing, perhaps even from the PlayStation 4 consoles some terrorists have used to communicate, which Belgium’s Interior Minister said has posed particular problems in the days before the attack. (Though there’s no evidence PS4s played a role in this attack.) Some metadata, especially that scraped from content, may be increasingly unavailable if the content itself is encrypted. When individuals keep their online identities rigorously separate, that too makes the dragnet less useful, as it makes it hard to identify a terrorist network. Finally, it may be that the triage process doesn’t always measure the importance of communications effectively.

    In any case, news reports on the investigation into Friday’s attacks have suggested that some of the terrorists involved in the attack—even a figure identified as the possible planner—have had some of their communications analyzed already. If so, enough metadata was available to partially map out this network. If investigators know about these communications now, they could have known about them on Thursday, before the attack. And if they did, investigators might have been able to bypass whatever encryption the terrorists did use.

    The terrorists who conducted Friday’s attack may well have been using encryption. But if so, it appears that the metadata dragnet failed well before agencies got to any encrypted communications.

    By Marcy Wheeler
    NOV. 16 2015 10:44 PM

    Find this story at 16 November 2015

    © 2015 The Slate Group LLC

    Attentats de Paris : les messages du commanditaire au tueur de l’Hyper Cacher

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    image: http://s2.lemde.fr/image/2015/11/07/534×0/4805097_6_dc91_une-video-d-amedy-coulibaly-dans-laquelle-il_1e40cfd5515a5931c0c9dd14ee771631.jpg
    Une vidéo d’Amedy Coulibaly dans laquelle il revendique les attentats de Paris en janvier.
    L’enquête colossale sur les attentats de Paris en janvier s’oriente aujourd’hui, notamment, sur la piste d’un donneur d’ordre. Une personne susceptible d’avoir coordonné à distance les attaques des frères Kouachi contre Charlie Hebdo, le 7 janvier, et d’Amedy Coulibaly à l’Hyper Cacher de la porte de Vincennes, le 9 janvier. C’est la découverte de quelques-uns des échanges de ce commanditaire avec ce dernier qui ont trahi son existence. En l’état, impossible d’identifier son nom ou sa localisation exacte. Les éléments qui attestent de sa présence ne sont que des morceaux de mails et des adresses IP disparates repérés dans l’immensité du Web.
    Lire aussi (abonnés) : Attentats de Paris : la justice sur les traces des commanditaires

    Mais dix mois jour pour jour après les attentats, l’étau se resserre progressivement, d’après les éléments que Le Monde a pu consulter, autour d’un individu se trouvant à l’étranger. Un homme qui, à l’évidence, avait une vision d’ensemble des tueries qui ont coûté la vie à 17 personnes et qui a piloté en partie les opérations.
    Rédigés dans le langage lapidaire des SMS, mais toujours précis dans leurs instructions, les messages de ce mystérieux commanditaire s’apparentent chaque fois à de véritables ordres guerriers. « Ok, fé ske ta a fair aujourdhui ms simple com ça tu rentr dormir ensuit tu plank et verifi adress 1 ts les jrs : indications bientot pr recup amis aider toi. debarasse toi puce, maintenant passe sur adress 1, fini adress 2 », écrit-il ainsi à Amedy Coulibaly le 7 janvier, à 14 heures. Soit seulement deux heures après la tuerie de Charlie Hebdo…
    Le renfort de plusieurs compagnons d’armes
    Un peu plus tôt, à 12 h 48 exactement, le coordinateur inconnu a consulté un message du futur tueur de l’Hyper Cacher contenant plusieurs fichiers intitulés « inventaires ». Un seul d’entre eux n’était pas chiffré et donne une idée du contenu des autres. « J’ai un AK74 avec 275 cartouches. Six tokarev avec 69 cartouche. Trois gillet par balle militaire trois gillet tactique deux bombe a gel et a gaz deux gros couteaux un choqueur ». Un mail à l’orthographe hasardeuse sans doute rédigé par Amedy Coulibaly lui-même.
    Lire aussi : L’explosion de Villejuif et les tirs de Fontenay-aux-Roses attribués à Coulibaly

    En plus d’établir qu’il y avait donc bien une personne, en coulisse, tirant les ficelles du drame, ces échanges laissent entrevoir le fait que, au-delà des frères Kouachi, Amedy Coulibaly devait, semble-t-il, recevoir le renfort de plusieurs compagnons d’armes pour son épopée macabre. Un scénario dont atteste, en filigrane, un dernier mail du commanditaire présumé, dévoilé par BFM TV, le 13 octobre. Le message date cette fois du 8 janvier à 17h21. « 1) pas possible amis, travailler tt seul », écrit notamment l’insaisissable correspondant, avant d’ajouter « 2) si possible trouver et travailler avec zigotos bien. 3) si possible expliker ds video ke toi donner zigoto les outils au nom de d, préciser leskels. » Les « zigotos » désigneraient les frères Kouachi, alors en pleine cavale. « D » signifierait « Daech ».
    Officiellement, seuls les frères Kouachi ont revendiqué l’attaque du journal satirique au nom d’Al-Qaida dans la péninsule Arabique (AQPA). Revendication appuyée, dès le 9 janvier, par un message vidéo sur YouTube du porte-parole d’AQPA au Yémen, Nasser Ben Ali Al-Anassi. Dans une autre vidéo posthume, Amedy Coulibaly, lui, s’est réclamé de l’Etat islamique (EI). Mais en exhumant ces échanges, le travail minutieux des enquêteurs spécialisés en cybercriminalité montre que les frontières peuvent être poreuses entre les deux organisations.
    Les prescriptions testamentaires de Coulibaly
    Quel individu, francophone, a pu avoir l’expérience, le parcours et le réseau, pour se retrouver informé à la fois du projet des frères Kouachi contre Charlie Hebdo au nom d’AQPA et de celui d’Amedy Coulibaly au nom de l’EI ? Quel itinéraire derrière ce soin inattendu à ne pas laisser AQPA « bénéficier » seule des retombées médiatiques de l’attentat du journal satirique ?
    Sans qu’aucun lien soit fait directement avec les attentats, deux noms de djihadistes français apparaissent avec insistance dans l’instruction colossale de la juge Nathalie Poux : ceux de Peter Cherif et de Salim Benghalem. Tous les deux ont la particularité d’avoir été plus ou moins proches des frères Kouachi et d’Amedy Coulibaly, tout en étant passés par le Yémen, où se trouve AQPA.
    Lire aussi : Le djihadiste français Salim Benghalem aurait été le geôlier des ex-otages en Syrie

    A son mystérieux tuteur opérationnel, Amedy Coulibaly avait en tout cas confié jusqu’à ses prescriptions testamentaires. Dans un ultime message non daté intitulé « salam », il demande à ce que l’on prenne soin de son épouse religieuse, Hayat Boumedienne : « Je voudrais que le frère s’occupe de ma femme dans les règles de l’Islam, réclame-t-il notamment. Je voudrais pour elle qu’elle ne se retrouve pas seule qu’elle est une bonne situation financiere qu’elle ne soit pas dellaiser. Surtout qu’elle apprenne l’arabe, le Coran et la science religieuse. Veillez a se quel aye bien religieusement. Le plus important c’est le dine [la religion en arabe] et la foi et pour sa elle a besoin d’etre accompagné. Qu’Allah vous assiste. »

    Le Monde.fr | 07.11.2015 à 10h46 • Mis à jour le 08.11.2015 à 11h05 | Par Elise Vincent
    Find this story at 7 November 2015

    © Le Monde.fr

    Renseignement : partie de ping-pong entre DGSE et DRM

    Dans l’ombre, les deux services s’affrontent sur leur rôle respectif dans les opérations militaires

    Les services de renseignement sont « une petite oasis d’abondance ». L’un de leurs principaux responsables se réjouit du traitement de faveur dont la « politique publique de renseignement » jouit au sein des activités de l’Etat. La tendance, soulignée depuis plusieurs années, a été nettement confirmée à la suite des attentats de janvier. Une loi, élargissant leurs capacités d’interception, a été votée en juin et leurs moyens financiers et humains sont renforcés, en particulier dans le cadre de l’actualisation à la hausse de la loi de programmation militaire.
    Cette situation n’empêche pas les « services » de se quereller autour des opérations militaires en cours, que ce soit au Sahel ou au Levant (Irak et Syrie). Ce n’est pas la guerre ouverte, mais plutôt une « partie de ping-pong » pour savoir qui fait quoi, comme le note un acteur du dossier. En jeu : le rôle de la DGSE (Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure) et de la DRM (Direction du renseignement militaire) sur les théâtres d’opération. Une querelle de famille, car les deux services dépendent tous les deux du ministère de la Défense, même si la DGSE jouit d’un rôle spécifique au sein de l’Etat, avec notamment un accès direct au président de la République.
    L’un le dit en anglais : « Find. Fix. Finish. » L’autre en français : « Trouver. Traquer. Terminer. » Ce sont deux hauts responsables des services qui évoquent leur rôle au Sahel dans la guerre contre les groupes terroristes. Ils parlent de l’élimination de leurs chefs, les High Value Target (HVT), les cibles de haute valeur, en anglais pour tout le monde. « Finish » ou « Terminer » veut dire tuer, et c’est le rôle des forces spéciales de l’opération Sabre. Là-dessus, tout le monde est à peu près d’accord.
    En revanche, qui trouve et traque les HVT ? Les militaires de la DRM ou les agents de la DGSE ? Dans le meilleur des mondes, le mieux placé pour le faire et ce, en collaboration avec les autres. Sur le terrain, c’est globalement ce qui se passe et cela fonctionne : les groupes terroristes qui ont perdu plusieurs de leurs hauts responsables depuis janvier 2013 ne démentiront pas. Dans les bureaux parisiens, l’affaire est plus compliquée, car chaque service à bien compris que la guerre contre le terrorisme allait redessiner pour longtemps le paysage du renseignement français et qu’il faut, dans ce cadre, s’y garantir une bonne place. Dans l’attente d’arbitrages politiques, chacun tire la couverture à soi.
    « Trouver » les chefs terroristes ? La DGSE explique jouer « un rôle tout à fait essentiel » en « fournissant l’essentiel du renseignement » sur les HVT. C’est, y dit-on, « son métier stratégique ». Mais, ensuite, le boulevard Mortier est prêt à « transférer la traque à la DRM », puisqu’il s’agit d’une « mission tactique » que l’on peut confier aux militaires. Évidemment, ceux-ci ne l’entendent pas de cette oreille et mettent en avant leurs propres moyens de renseignement leur permettant de « trouver » les chefs terroristes.

    Lors d’un récent colloque à la Société de Géographie, la DRM présentait ainsi ses moyens techniques d’analyse spatiale permettant de localiser un centre de commandement de Daech à Mossoul (Irak). L’exemple, assurait la DRM, était purement fictif. Par rapport aux militaires, la DGSE dispose d’un atout majeur : elle est le seul service autorisé à conduire des actions clandestines à l’étranger, qu’il s’agisse de renseignement ou d’action. « Nous seuls pouvons mener des actions de l’Etat non revendicables par l’Etat », indique un acteur de ce dossier. Sur ce plan, la DGSE a d’ailleurs décidé récemment de « relancer la recherche humaine » en son sein, avec une nouvelle organisation qui redonne du poids à l’espionnage traditionnel par rapport au renseignement technique (les écoutes).
    L’un des autres points de crispation entre les services est la notion de « théâtres ouverts » et de « théâtres fermés ». Les premiers sont les pays où la France mène des opérations militaires comme le Mali, le Niger ou l’Irak. Là, la DRM peut être « leader », assure une source proche du dossier, « mais tous les autres services sont mobilisés ». Ainsi, l’ensemble des services de renseignement, y compris ceux relevant des ministères de l’Intérieur et des Finances, sont désormais représentés au sein du Centre de préparation et de conduite des opérations (CPCO), à l’état-major des armées.
    Les « théâtres fermés » posent un problème plus aigu : officiellement, la France n’y mène pas d’actions… si ce n’est clandestines. Elles relèvent dans ce cas uniquement de la DGSE. Mais, explique un acteur, « les forces armées peuvent anticiper l’ouverture d’un théâtre », comme ce fut le cas au Sahel, en Centrafrique ou en Libye. Aujourd’hui, les regards de la communauté du renseignement se tournent vers la Syrie, un « théâtre » en cours d’ouverture depuis la décision du président de la République d’y effectuer des « vols de reconnaissance » ouvrant la voie à des frappes que François Hollande a jugées lundi « nécessaires ». « On ne peut pas désactiver des cellules terroristes en France si on ne va pas un peu plus en profondeur », c’est-à-dire en Syrie, explique un spécialiste de l’antiterrorisme.
    La Syrie le montre : les militaires peuvent recueillir du renseignement grâce aux vols de reconnaissance mais pas sur le terrain où les opérations sont nécessairement clandestines. Qui, au final, réalise la synthèse – la « fusion » disent les hommes du métier ? Qui, par conséquent, informe et conseille les responsables politiques ? Il existe depuis 2008 un coordonnateur national du renseignement (CNR) à l’Elysée – l’actuel est l’ambassadeur Didier Le Bret – mais son rôle n’est pas directement opérationnel. La fusion exige en effet des moyens sophistiqués comme les systèmes de Geoint (geospatial intelligence) de la DRM.
    La DGSE, service « intégré », est organisée en son sein même pour produire des synthèses à partir du renseignement qu’elle recueille par les écoutes (Direction technique) ou l’espionnage traditionnel, ainsi que les capteurs mis en œuvre par les armées (satellites ou avions). En cela, la DGSE se distingue de ses homologues étrangères, comme la CIA qui doit cohabiter avec la NSA, l’agence spécialisée dans les interceptions électroniques. Pour les responsables de la DGSE, cette particularité française est un atout considérable auquel ils sont très attachés.
    Dans les milieux parlementaires, certains imaginent de créer une agence, comme la NSA ou la GCHQ britannique, qui fournirait du renseignement électronique à toute la communauté du renseignement. Pour la DGSE, c’est un chiffon rouge. Comme le maintien en son sein d’une composante purement militaire – le Service Action –, certains considérant à tort qu’il ferait double emploi avec les forces spéciales.

    20 septembre 2015 à 15h03
    Par Jean-Dominique Merchet

    Find this story at 20 September 2015

    © l’Opinion 2015

    Mali: The forgotten war (2014)

    France, Mali’s former colonial ruler, is going back to its old colonial ways, writes Kane.

    As representatives of the Malian government and various rebel groups meet in Algiers for peace talks, violence in northern Mali continues and so does the French military presence.France launched its military intervention in Mali in January 2013 with the mandate to stop an uprising of various militant groups in the north, threatening the stability and sovereignty of the country. The goal was then to free the northern part of the country from jihadist occupation, bring back peace, and restore Malian sovereignty on the whole territory. Although France’s defence minister announced that the so-called “Operation Serval” had “fulfilled its mission”, Mali is hardly a peaceful place today. As Mali fell into a media blackout, France announced it was reorganising its military presence into “Operation Barkhane”. No

    As representatives of the Malian government and various rebel groups meet in Algiers for peace talks, violence in northern Mali continues and so does the French military presence.

    France launched its military intervention in Mali in January 2013 with the mandate to stop an uprising of various militant groups in the north, threatening the stability and sovereignty of the country. The goal was then to free the northern part of the country from jihadist occupation, bring back peace, and restore Malian sovereignty on the whole territory. Although France’s defence minister announced that the so-called “Operation Serval” had “fulfilled its mission”, Mali is hardly a peaceful place today.

    As Mali fell into a media blackout, France announced it was reorganising its military presence into “Operation Barkhane”. No one seems to be asking why the French are still there, how long they will stay and more importantly – doesn’t their intervention constitute a form of neo-imperialism?

    France in Mali

    Back in early 2013 many Malians gave an enthusiastic welcome to French soldiers, when they came to “rescue” this crisis-torn West African country. Much has changed since then. In their January 2014 book, La Gloire des Imposteurs, Malian activist Aminata Dramane Traore and Senegalese novelist Boubacar Boris Diop explain this initial enthusiasm for the war with the Malians’ shock and panic in the face of the invaders from the north who were destroying historic monuments, killing and mutilating people.

    But as the authors pointed out, Mali might be facing an even bigger threat: the former colonial ruler going back to its old colonial ways on Malian territory. After all, it is just hard to believe that France selflessly sent its soldiers to face danger in a faraway African country for the sake of “saving it”. The question that Malians have to ask themselves is: Do they prefer having to fight against jihadists for a long time, or having their sovereignty challenged, and their territory occupied by an ancient colonialist state or partitioned to satisfy a group allied with the colonial power?

    This is not the first time France has gotten involved in its former “colonial territories”. And it is always the same scenario: Some excuse is found in order to deploy on the ground to protect economic interest, occupy strategic points or defend an ally among the local politicians. The story is well known from Djibouti all the way to the Ivory Coast!

    In July, France signed a new defence agreement with Mali, which would allow it to maintain a considerable military presence in the country. The agreement’s eleven pages of mostly general statements say that French military troops and civil servants will be allowed to stay in Mali, build military bases, operate, if needed, with Malian troops, etc., for the next five years. The five years term, as written in the document, is renewable.

    With this agreement Mali has started to reverse the decolonialisation project of its first president Modibo Keïta, who made sure the last French soldier departed his country in 1961. Keita was a firm nationalist and while almost all the newly independent West African countries at that time signed defence pacts with their former “master”, he only consented to an agreement on economic and cultural cooperation with France. Keita didn’t allow French military bases or troops on Malian soil.

    The Malian presidents that followed him also resisted French pressure for a defence agreement. Although Paris demanded repeatedly, three different presidents of Mali – Moussa Traore, Alpha Oumar Konare and Amadou Toumany Toure – refused, despite huge diplomatic and economic pressure. The most France could get in Mali was a 1985 military cooperation accord which allowed France to give military training and technical assistance to Malian troops.

    These presidents seemed to be following a doctrine that gave a boost to the Malian people’s self-esteem. However, now it is clear that the “Operation Serval” against the jihadist has given France an unexpected opportunity to achieve an old regional military scheme.

    As Senegalese commentator, Babacar Justin Ndiaye – known as one of the most influential analysts on military questions in West Africa – has pointed out: Mali was intentionally weakened to prepare the French military operation “Serval”. “Serval”, which, in turn, has prepared the ground for operation “Barkhane”, announced by the French just as they were wrapping up the previous one in July. This new operation is based from Chad and will cover Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger.

    Peace negotiations?

    After having defeated the invaders, and chasing them out of Timbuktu and other northern cities, and disarming factions of the rebellions, the French military surprisingly (or not) banned the Malian army from Kidal, the central city of the northern Azawad region. The territory is claimed by different rebel groups, but it is under the de facto control of the MNLA (National Movement for Liberation of the Azawad).

    France allowed the rebels to occupy the area, reorganise and later gain a place at the post-war negotiations table. The first round of peace talks supervised by France took place in mid-July in Algiers between Malian authorities and various rebel groups. The Malian government has always rejected negotiating with rebels who call for cessation, yet this time it had to accept the talks.

    As is well known, France has openly supported the MNLA for a long time and the MNLA is profusely covered by French media, which presents a sympathetic romanticised image of the rebels. The leaders of the MNLA are frequent visitors to the French capital and quite welcome on French TV, which likes to show people in MNLA-controlled territories amicably accepting French troops.

    Although France enjoys considerable sway with the different groups in the peace talks, it is finding it increasingly harder to mediate, as disagreements between the rebel groups continue to arise. During the first round of talks, for example, various groups had to be separated and accommodated in different five star hotels in Algiers to avoid hostility.

    The purpose of this latest round of talks is to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in northern Mali. But whether such a solution will be for the best interests of all Malians, is unclear, given that France has not excluded partition – as the Malian government had demanded.

    French interests in Sahel

    French support for the MNLA is not surprising, at least not geopolitically. France wants Niger protected from the insurgencies sweeping across the Sahel region, and it is ready to support the MNLA, which in return would prevent the expansion of jihadist groups towards the borders of Niger, the world’s fourth largest producer of uranium. Coincidentally or not, France generates more than 75 percent of its electricity through nuclear plants.

    Unsurprisingly, Niger is host to France’s biggest economic interest of in the region and therefore its security is a foreign policy priority for the French government. The French corporation Areva mines uranium in Niger and it is currently investing 1.9bn Euros in the development of the large uranium deposits in Imouraren. Protecting the eastern borders of Niger was indeed among the major reasons behind French President François Hollande’s decision to get involved in the conflict in Mali. The May 2013 car bomb attack on one of Areva’s operations must have further convinced him that it was the right thing to do.

    Thus it only made sense to wrap up the Mali-focused “Operation Serval” in order to unroll “Operation Barkhane” with a wider geographic scope. The provisions of the new defence agreement forced on the Malian government naturally allow for whatever the French need in order to sustain their new operation in the region.

    It should not come as a surprise that France decided on Chad as the centre for the new operation. After all, Chad has a history of hosting French military operations. French military presence in Chad began in 1968, when former president Francois Tombalbaye asked Charles de Gaulle, in the name of the defence pact between his country and France, to intervene with “Operation Bison” against a rebellion in the northern regions of the country. In 1986, the French military intervened again with “Operation Epervier”, this time against Muammar Qaddafi who was invading from the north. The French have never left ever since.

    Nowadays, a small number of French soldiers are based at Niamey airport, where a small American military crew launches drones to survey the region, tracking jihadist groups.

    Just after “mission accomplished” was announced on “Operation Serval”, Holland took a trip into the region, getting reassuring support from heads of state for his anti-terrorism campaign. The “terrorist threat” is a great opportunity for France to put its hands on West Africa again militarily, politically and, even economically. The US, of course, is in with the French, supporting them and even lending another friendly drone operation from Niger’s capital.

    As France is expanding its military control of the region, there are few who are objecting or ringing an alarm bell warning that the colonial “master” has come back.

    06 Sep 2014 12:26 GMT | War & Conflict, Politics, US & Canada, Burkina Faso, Chad
    Pape Samba Kane is a Senegalese journalist and political analyst.

    Find this story at 6 September 2014

    Source: Al Jazeera

    Selected extracts of “top” NSA intercepts of French leadership and chief officials, taken from various editions of the National Security Agency’s Top Secret Global SIGINT Highlights executive briefings.

    EU and French diplomats who strongly criticize U.S. trade policies and call TPP treaty a confrontation against China.
    High-ranking French official complaining about President Sarkozy’s inflammatory and inaccurate statements on WTO that no-one in government backs
    French ministerial agenda for planned G7 and G20 meeting intercepted
    French economy in dire straits according to intercepted communications between French Finance Minister and French Senator
    Spying on French Ambassador who contemplated exposing U.S. misuse of UN Oil-for-food program in Iraq
    NSA Eavesdrops as Hollande Tries End Run Around Merkel on Greek Eurozone Exit
    US Intercepts of France Complaining About US Intercepts of France
    US Spying On Chirac Discussing UN Appointments
    US Spying on Sarkozy Talking Tough on Israel-Palestine
    US Eavesdrops as Sarkozy Plots French Leadership on Financial Crisis
    EU and French diplomats who strongly criticize U.S. trade policies and call TPP treaty a confrontation against China.

    Date 2 August 2011
    WikiLeaks Synopsis
    Intercepted communication between French Minister-Counselor for Economic and Financial Affiars Jean-Francois Boittin and EU Trade Section head Hiddo Houben, reveals Boittin’s discontent with U.S. approach towards a WTO pact. Additionally Houben stated that the TPP (being an American initiative) seems devised as a confrontation with China.
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    EU Officials Perceive Lack of U.S. Leadership on Trade Issues, Skeptical of Pacific Initiative (TS//SI//OC/NF)

    (TS//SI//OC/NF) Washington-based EU trade officials ascertained in late July that the U.S. administration is severely lacking in leadership when it comes to trade matters, as shown by the absence of a clear consensus on the future course of the WTO Doha Development Agenda (DDA). French Minister-Counselor for Economic and Financial Affairs Jean-Francois Boittin expressed astonishment at the level of “narcissism” and wasteful contemplation currently on display in Washington, while describing the idea of scrapping the DDA in favor of another plan–which some U.S. officials are seen to favor–as stupefying. The Frenchman further asserted that once a country makes deep cuts in its trade barriers, as the U.S. has done, it no longer has incentives to offer nor, as a consequence, a strong position from which to negotiate with emerging nations. Boittin’s interlocutor, EU Trade Section head Hiddo Houben, after noting the leadership void in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, declared that with regard to the disagreement within his host government on DDA, a political decision must be made about what direction is to be followed. On another subject, Houben insisted that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is a U.S. initiative, appears to be designed to force future negotiations with China. Washington, he pointed out, is negotiating with every nation that borders China, asking for commitments that exceed those countries’ administrative capacities, so as to “confront” Beijing. If, however, the TPP agreement takes 10 years to negotiate, the world–and China–will have changed so much that that country likely will have become disinterested in the process, according to Houben. When that happens, the U.S. will have no alternative but to return to the WTO. Finally, he assessed that this focus on Asia is added proof that Washington has no real negotiating agenda vis-´-vis emerging nations, including China and Brazil, or an actual, proactive WTO plan of action.


    EU diplomatic

    Z-3/OO/531614-11, 011622Z
    High-ranking French official complaining about President Sarkozy’s inflammatory and inaccurate statements on WTO that no-one in government backs

    Date July 2008
    Classification TOP SECRET//COMINT/NOFORN
    WikiLeaks Synopsis
    Intercepted communication reveals discontent of head of Trade Policy Renaud Lassus regarding some statements from Sarkozy regarding a potential negative impact of a WTO trade negotiation pact on France economy.
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    Sarkozy Remarks on WTO Deemed Injurious to France; Rules Clarity Sought (TS//SI//NF)

    (TS//SI//NF) A high-ranking French treasury official lamented in early July recent inflammatory and inaccurate statements by President Nicolas Sarkozy, statements that the official said were certain to complicate French efforts to balance its national interests with its responsibilities as current EU President. Assuming his duties as head of the Trade Policy and Investment Office in the Treasury and Economic Policy Directorate, Renaud Lassus indicated that Sarkozy’s declaration that there will be no WTO Doha Round accord has effectively set the bar extremely high, while also increasing the chances of a dark scenario in which France finds itself as the lone dissenter on a national level, but responsible as EU President for representing the views of the entire union. The choice for France then becomes one of either capitulating or provoking a crisis within the EU. Paris is totally unprepared to deal with this scenario, Lassus confirmed, as no one wants to try to “spin” the situation in which Sarkozy has placed the country when doing so would be admitting that the President had been wrong in the first place. He further commented that Sarkozy’s assertion that a WTO pact would bring a 20-percent drop in production and the loss of 100,000 French jobs was patently incorrect and believed by no one in the government. As for those who thought that Sarkozy would dampen his rhetoric when France actually assumed the Presidency on 1 July, their hopes were dashed, Lassus insisted, by the President’s most virulent personal attack yet on the EU Trade Commissioner. In other WTO-related commentary, knowledgeable insiders believed that the 21 July WTO ministerial could be disrupted if Rules Committee chairman Guillermo Valles Galmes does not make his intentions clear in advance. If this is not done, it is possible that rules issues will be raised at the ministerial, leading to heated negotiations. In addition, fish subsidies could cause problems. India could threaten to torpedo the ministerial unless it were to get a carve-out on special and differential treatment on fish. This would leave developed countries as the only ones that would have disciplines on fish subsidies and would be unacceptable to Europe and Japan.


    French, EU, Japanese diplomatic

    Z-3/OO/5427-08, 111833Z; Z-3/OO/5416-08, 111607Z
    French ministerial agenda for planned G7 and G20 meeting intercepted

    Date 2012
    Classification TOP SECRET//COMINT//NOFORN
    WikiLeaks Synopsis
    Intercepted communication reveals French Minister of Economy, Finance, and Industry Francois Baroin’s intentions to emphasize the need for the implementation of the Basel Accords on banking laws in the G7 and G20 meeting in 2012 and his support of the U.S. initiative on oil reserves.
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    G-7/G-20: French Minister to Push U.S. on Banking Reform, Warn Against Stifling Growth (TS//SI//NF)

    (TS//SI//NF) With some messages targeted for the United States, the French Treasury Directorate has drafted talking points for Minister of Economy, Finance, and Industry Francois Baroin to use during meetings of the Group of 7 and Group of 20 on 19 and 20 April, just before the spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank. Baroin will emphasize the need to stay on schedule for implementing the Basel Accords (recommendations on banking laws and regulations), given Washington’s slowness to act. He will also support the U.S. initiative on strategic oil reserves in his remarks on the threat to global growth posed by rising oil prices. While repeatedly reminding his colleagues of the hard choices the EU has made the deal with its financial situation, he will also caution against endangering growth by acting too quickly.

    French diplomatic

    Z-3/OO/512583-12, 171712Z
    French economy in dire straits according to intercepted communications between French Finance Minister and French Senator

    Date 31 July 2012
    Classification TOP SECRET//COMINT//NOFORN
    WikiLeaks Synopsis
    Intercepted communication reveals that Finance, Economy, and Trade Minister Pierre Moscovici believes the French economic situation was far worse than perceived. Additionally, he remarks about that the situation with the automotive industry was more critical than a pre-retirement unemployment supplement known as AER, which he also thought wouldn’t have had a severe impact on elections (while senator Bourquin thought would have driven voters to right-wing National Front).
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    French Finance Minister Says Economy in Dire Straits, Predicts Two Atrocious Years Ahead (TS//SI//NF)

    (TS//SI//NF) The French economic situation is worse than anyone can imagine and drastic measures will have to be taken in the next 2 years, according to Finance, Economy, and Trade Minister Pierre Moscovici. On 19 July, Moscovici, under pressure to re-establish a pre-retirement unemployment supplement known as the AER, warned that the situation is dire. Upon learning that there are no funds available for the AER, French Senator Martial Bourquin warned Moscovici that without the AER program the ruling Socialist Party will have a rough time in the industrial basin of the country, with voters turning to the right-wing National Front. Moscovici disagreed, asserting that the inability to reinstitute the AER will have no impact in electoral terms, besides, the situation with faltering automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen is more important than the AER. (COMMENT: PSA has announced plans to close assembly plants and lay off some 8,000 workers.) Moscovici warned that the 2013 budget is not going to be a “good news budget,” with the government needing to find at least an additional 33 billion euros ($39.9 billion). Nor will 2014 be a good year. Bourquin persisted, warning that the Socialist Party will find itself in a situation similar to that of Socialist former Spanish President Zapatero, who was widely criticized for his handling of his country’s debt situation. Moscovici countered that it was not Zapatero whose behavior the French government would emulate, but rather Social Democrat former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. (COMMENT: Schroeder, chancellor from 1998 to 2005, was widely credited with helping to restore German competitiveness. He favored shifting from pure austerity measures to measures that encourage economic growth and advocated a common EU financial policy.)


    French diplomatic

    Z-3/OO/524122-12, 271748Z
    Spying on French Ambassador who contemplated exposing U.S. misuse of UN Oil-for-food program in Iraq

    Date 2004
    Classification TOP SECRET//COMINT
    WikiLeaks Synopsis
    Intercepted communication between French Ambassador in Washington Jean-David Levitte reveals his frustration towards a report he defines “scandalous” regarding a possible misuse of the UN Oil-For-Food (OFF) program by French companies during the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, while he claims some of these French companies where in fact U.S. companies’ subsidiaries and no American company was mentioned in such report. Levitte likely refers to the report filed by the US Senate that accused Russian, British and French politicians of receiving oil allocations from Iraq in exchange for their political alliance. Levitte planned to present a list of such U.S. companies to U.S. Congress and the media.
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    (TS//SI) French Envoy Plans to Release List of U.S. Firms Who Allegedly Profited From OFF

    (TS//SI//REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR and NZL) French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte in Washington plans to respond as early as today to information in the Iraq Survey Group report regarding possible misuse of the UN Oil-for-Food (OFF) program by companies from France and other countries during the former Iraqi regime. The ambassador termed the report scandalous, since it named no U.S. companies and he claimed that many French companies with contracts under the OFF program were actually subsidiaries of U.S. firms that also profited from the business dealings. He therefore planned, with foreign ministry backing, to present a list of these U.S. companies to both the U.S. Congress and the media.


    French diplomatic

    3/OO/27079-04, 071948Z
    NSA Eavesdrops as Hollande Tries End Run Around Merkel on Greek Eurozone Exit

    Date 22 May 2012
    WikiLeaks Synopsis
    Intercepted communication reveals that Francois Hollande has approved holding a secret meeting with French officials as well as German opposition (without the knowledge of Merkel) to discuss the euro-zone crisis.
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    French President Approves Secret Eurozone Consultations, Meeting With German Opposition (TS//SI-G//OC/NF)

    (TS//SI-G//OC/NF) French President Francois Hollande has approved holding secret meetings in Paris to discuss the eurozone crisis, particularly the consequences of a Greek exit from the eurozone. On 18 May, Hollande directed Prime Minister (PM) Jean-Marc Ayrault to set up a meeting at the Office of the President (the Elysee) for the following week. Hollande, Ayrault, and “appropriate ministers” would attend, and special emphasis would be given to consequences for the French economy in general and for French banks in particular. Hollande stressed that the meeting would be secret. (COMMENT: The French president seems worried that if word were to get out that Paris is seriously considering the possibility of a Greek exit, it would deepen the crisis.) In addition, secret meetings are to be held in Paris between French officlans and members of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). Hollande assured the PM that hosting the meeting at the Elysee was “doable,” although Ayrault warned the president to keep the event a secret so as to avoid diplomatic problems. (COMMENT: By “diplomatic problems,” Ayrault is referring to what could happen if German Chancellor Angela Merkel finds out that Hollande is going behind her back to meet with the German opposition.) Earlier reporting reveals that following talks last week in Berlin with Merkel, Hollande complained that nothing of substance was achieved; it was purely for show. Hollande had found the chancellor fixated on the Fiscal Pact and above all on Greece, on which he claimed she had given up and was unwilling to budge. This made Hollande very worried for Greece and the Greek people, who might react by voting for an extremist party. After meeting Merkel, the French president contacted SPD Chairman Sigmair Gabriel and invited him to Paris so that they could talk.

    Foreign Satellite, Unconventional

    French, German governmental

    Z-G/OO/503643-12, 211549Z; Z-G/OO/503541-12, 161711Z
    US Intercepts of France Complaining About US Intercepts of France

    Date 24 March 2010
    Classification TOP-SECRET//COMINT/NOFORN
    WikiLeaks Synopsis
    Intercepted communication between French Ambassador in Washington Pierre Vimont and Sarkozy’s diplomatic advisor Jean-David Levitte, reveals potential topics of discussion for a meeting between Sarkozy and U.S. President, particularly Sarkozy’s frustration regarding Washington step back on a bilateral intelligence cooperation agreement and the U.S. desire to continue spying on France.
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    Sensitive Issues on the Agenda When French, U.S. Presidents Meet Next Week in Washington (TS//SI//NF)

    (TS//SI//NF) French President Sarkozy intends to raise a number of sensitive topics with the U.S. President when the two leaders meet in Washington on 31 March, according to an exchange last week between the French ambassador in Washington Pierre Vimont, and Sarkozy’s diplomatic advisor, Jean-David Levitte. Vimont conveyed that the French President will express his frustration that Washington has backed away from its proposed bilateral intelligence cooperation agreement and Sarkozy intends to continue to push for closure. As Vimont and Levitte understand it, the main sticking point is the U.S. desire to continue spying on France. On the topic of Afghanistan, Levitte noted that Sarkozy is ready to authorize more military trainers but wants clarification on how many are needed, given the conflicting figures from U.S. sources. Another proposed topic was efforts by the European Aeronautic, Defense, and Space Corporation (EADS) to win a tanker aircraft contract with the U.S. military. Vimont revealed cryptically that the deal is moving forward but did not provide any details. Levitte had not expected to put the labeling dispute with Pernod Ricard (the world’s second largest spirits group) on the agenda, but Sarkozy had just spoken to the company’s chairman who had asked the president to intercede on his behalf. (COMMENT: Patrick Ricard, chairman of the Pernod Ricard board of directors, is said to be one of Sarkozy’s wealthy backers.) Vimont characterized the issue as a very political matter in the U.S., and suggested that a direct appeal to the White House might be useful. While Sarkozy intends to broach the issue with the U.S. President, Levitte will talk to the U.S. President’s Economic Adviser and Deputy National Security Adviser. Finally, Levitte expected the two leaders to discuss other pressing subjects including Iran, the Middle East Peace Process, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Sahel, Russia, China, Turkey, climate change, and the financial situation of several European countries; however, he provided no details on those topics.


    French diplomatic

    Z-3/OO/507179-10, 231635Z
    US Spying On Chirac Discussing UN Appointments

    Date 2006
    WikiLeaks Synopsis
    Intercepted communication between French President Jacques Chirac and French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals that Chirac gave specific instructions to approach UNSYG Ban Ki-Moon and ask the appointment of Terje Roed-Larsen as Deputy UNSYG or another position of equal responsibility.
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    (TS//SI-G//OC) French President Presses for Selection of Roed-Larsen as Deputy UNSYG

    (TS//SI-G//OC/REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL) French President Jacques Chirac told Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy on 23 December to work to ensure that current UN Special Envoy for the Implementation of UNSC Resolution 1559 Terje Roed-Larsen is selected as Deputy UNSYG or at least offered a position of similar responsibility. Chirac spelled out in deliberate fashion exactly how he wanted Douste-Blazy to proceed, instructing him to approach new UNSYG Ban Ki-moon and report back on Ban’s sentiments regarding the deputy post. (COMMENT: Chirac’s detailed orders may be in response to the foreign minister’s propensity, amply demonstrated in the past and the impetus behind a number of presidential reprimands, for making ill-timed or inaccurate remarks.) The President was keen on Roed-Larsen’s selection for several reasons, including his belief that the situation in the Middle East requires a skilled hand with experience in the region and the realization that–for once–France, Russia, and the U.S. all support the same man. Other considerations were that Ban intends to keep Frenchman Jean-Marie Guehenno on as head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, which is to be divided into two parts, with the newer organization handling logistics. That planned division, however, has drawn fire from Douste-Blazy, who thinks that it would be a catastrophe.


    French leadership, UN diplomatic

    G/OO/6411-06, 271650Z
    US Spying on Sarkozy Talking Tough on Israel-Palestine

    Date 10 June 2011
    WikiLeaks Synopsis
    Intercepted communication reveals that Sarkozy was determined to resume peace talks between Israel and Palestine, possibly without the involvement of the U.S.
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    Sarkozy Determined to Proceed With Mideast Initiative, May Pressure U.S. President (TS//SI-G//OC/NF)

    (TS//SI-G//OC/NF) In spite of an apparent lack of interest on the part of some major players, French President Nicolas Sarkozy affirmed on 7 June his determination of go forward with an initiative to restart direct Mideast peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. It was also disclosed in a conversation between Sarkozy and his foreign minister, Alain Juppe, that consideration was given to including the Quartet in the process; however, they were wary about such an invitation because that group might not bow to Paris’s wishes. Not being a member of the Quartet, they surmised, France would have no control over what transpired in one of its meetings, and if the group elected not to support direct talks, the French initiative would be a non-starter. Another concern centered on the dynamics of the Quartet: the fear in Paris was that in any session involving the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, UNSYG Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and the U.S. Secretary of State, the last two individuals would dominate the proceedings. Finally, the president was giving thought to appealing to Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev for a possible joint initiative without the United States or, as another option, issuing an ultimatum to the U.S. President regarding Palestinian statehood. The ultimatum would demand that Washington back France’s efforts to restart the peace process, failing which Sarkozy would tell the U.S. President that Paris will not side with the U.S. in September (presumably referring to the deliberations in the UN General Assembly on Palestinian statehood).


    French leadership

    Z-G/OO/513370-11, 091416Z
    US Eavesdrops as Sarkozy Plots French Leadership on Financial Crisis

    Date 2008
    WikiLeaks Synopsis
    Intercepted communication reveals that Sarkozy blamed U.S. Government’s many mistakes for the world economic crisis, and given a lack of engagement by the U.S., France, as EU president at the time, had to take the lead in devising solutions.
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    Sarkozy Sees Himself as Only One Who Can Resolve World Financial Crisis (TS//SI-G//OC)

    (TS//SI-G//OC/REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL) French President Nicolas Sarkozy considers it his responsibility to Europe and the world to step up to the plate and resolve the world financial crisis. He further declared that he is the only one, given France’s EU Presidency, who can step into the breach at this time. The President blamed many of the current economic problems on mistakes made by the U.S. Government, but believes that Washington is now heeding some of his advice. In his view, this is the first time that the U.S. has not taken the lead in managing a global crisis and France will now take the helm. Sarkozy is determined that the mid-November financial summit, which he proposed, will bring drastic change to the world financial system. Finally, the French President was pleased by some progress made within the EU to ease the crisis and by his excellent working relationship with the British and Spanish prime ministers.


    French leadership

    G/OO/503290-08, 291640Z

    Find this story at 29 June 2015

    WikiLeaks – Chirac, Sarkozy et Hollande : trois présidents sur écoute

    WIKILEAKS Les documents obtenus par WikiLeaks et que publie «Libération» révèlent que la NSA a, au moins de 2006 à mai 2012, espionné Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy et François Hollande.
    Un adage en vogue dans les milieux du renseignement veut qu’en matière d’espionnage, on n’ait pas d’alliés – ou, à tout le moins, qu’ils ne soient pas forcément des amis. «S’espionner entre amis, cela ne se fait pas», s’était d’ailleurs indignée Angela Merkel en apprenant en octobre 2013, par des révélations du Spiegel, que l’Agence nationale de sécurité (NSA) américaine avait ciblé son téléphone portable. Une sélection de documents que publient Libération et Mediapart en collaboration avec WikiLeaks révèle qu’en France, ce sont trois présidents successifs, et certains de leurs collaborateurs, qui ont été espionnés sur une période allant au moins de 2006, lors du second mandat de Jacques Chirac, à mai 2012, juste après l’installation à l’Elysée de François Hollande.

    Ces documents obtenus par WikiLeaks – regroupés sous le titre «Espionnage Elysée» – consistent notamment en cinq rapports d’analyse émanant de la NSA, sous l’intitulé «Global SIGINT Highlights», autrement dit, des «faits marquants» tirés du renseignement d’origine électromagnétique, les interceptions de communications. Tous sont classés «Top Secret», et destinés à des responsables de la NSA et de la communauté américaine du renseignement ; seuls deux d’entre eux, les plus anciens, sont voués à être partagés au sein des «Five Eyes», l’alliance des services de renseignement des Etats-Unis, de l’Australie, du Canada, de la Nouvelle-Zélande et du Royaume-Uni, les autres étant exclusivement à usage américain. Ces comptes rendus émanent, selon des experts interrogés par WikiLeaks, d’un bureau identifié comme étant celui des Summary Services («le service des synthèses»).

    On peut y lire, notamment, comment Jacques Chirac a, en 2006, poussé son candidat pour le poste de sous-secrétaire général adjoint des Nations unies, mais aussi que, selon la NSA, le ministre des Affaires étrangères de l’époque, Philippe Douste-Blazy, avait une «propension […] à faire des déclarations inexactes ou inopportunes». On peut y lire aussi – ce qui ne surprendra personne – que Nicolas Sarkozy se voyait, en 2008, comme «le seul homme capable de résoudre la crise financière». Ou qu’il se plaignait, en 2010, du «recul de Washington sur sa proposition d’accord de coopération bilatérale sur le renseignement», accord que les deux interlocuteurs mentionnés dans la note, l’ambassadeur de France à Washington, Pierre Vimont, et le conseiller diplomatique, Jean-David Levitte, attribuaient précisément au «souhait des Etats-Unis de continuer à espionner la France»…

    Le mémo le plus récent date du 22 mai 2012 – soit après la mise en place d’un protocole d’échanges d’informations ­entre la Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure (DGSE) et la NSA, qui remonterait, selon le Monde, à la fin 2011 – et fait état de «réunions secrètes» pour discuter d’une possible sortie de la Grèce de la zone euro, mais également des inquiétudes de Jean-Marc Ayrault quant aux réactions d’Angela Merkel si elle venait à avoir vent de la rencontre entre le nouveau président et l’opposition allemande.

    A vrai dire, si le contenu des notes est classé comme hautement confidentiel, il ne révèle pas pour autant de secrets d’Etat. Il témoigne, en tout état de cause, de l’intérêt porté par la NSA à la France. A ce titre, l’autre type de document obtenu par WikiLeaks est au moins aussi frappant. Il s’agit d’un extrait d’une base de données de la NSA mentionnant une série de numéros de téléphone, fixes et mobiles, identifiés comme des «sélecteurs». Autrement dit, sur la base d’une collecte massive d’informations, l’agence identifie des cibles qui motivent par la suite des recherches précises de contenus. Le tout en fonction de «besoins d’information» formalisés à partir de 2002, qui touchent à la politique intérieure ou aux enjeux économiques.

    Extrait d’une base de données de la NSA montrant les personnalités politiques qu’ils ont ciblé.

    Dans cette liste, qui date d’après nos recoupements de l’année 2010, Libération a pu identifier les numéros de portable de membres de l’exécutif – le président Nicolas Sarkozy, les secrétaires d’Etat aux Affaires européennes et au Commerce Jean-Pierre Jouyet et Pierre Lellouche –, mais aussi des cibles plus larges : le standard du ministère des Finances, celui de l’Agriculture, ainsi que l’antenne à l’Elysée du Centre de transmissions gouvernemental, qui dépend du Secrétariat général de la défense et de la sécurité nationale (SGDSN). Ce service est précisément responsable de la sécurisation des communications de l’exécutif, ainsi que de la permanence des liaisons gouvernementales, le «téléphone rouge». Rien n’indique pour autant que les liaisons sécurisées aient, elles, été compromises.

    Parmi les autres noms, la liste témoigne d’une identification plutôt précise des interlocuteurs. Les téléphones mobiles de conseillers du Président, comme le secrétaire général de l’Elysée de l’époque, Claude Guéant, ou Jean-David Levitte, sont aussi listés. Contactés par Libération, ni l’un ni l’autre ne se disent surpris. Le premier juge le procédé «inadmissible». Le second, philosophe, indique être «toujours parti du principe [qu’il était] écouté, et pas seulement par nos amis et partenaires américains».

    On trouve aussi des membres du cabinet ou de l’administration du ministère des Affaires étrangères – son porte-parole d’alors, Bernard Valero, ainsi que Laurence Tubiana, fonctionnaire au Quai d’Orsay qui a été chargée en 2009 des négociations pour la conférence sur le climat de Copenhague. A la différence des autres cibles, cette dernière ne relève d’ailleurs pas de la branche chargée d’intercepter les communications européennes, le «S2C32» (déjà identifié dans le scandale Merkel), mais d’un bureau chargé notamment d’«améliorer l’accès à la cible», d’«accroître les efforts de ciblage et d’exploitation» et de «développer de nouvelles possibi­lités de collecte». En clair, de voir dans quelle mesure il serait possible de pirater son téléphone, voire d’installer des logiciels espions dans son ordinateur.

    Cette sélection de documents ne révèle qu’une partie des activités de la NSA en matière d’espionnage des dirigeants français : rien ne permet de connaître la quantité de comptes rendus d’écoutes ayant été communiqués aux dirigeants de la NSA, et les présidents prennent également des précautions pour évoquer les sujets les plus sensibles – rencontres bilatérales ou communications chiffrées. Mais les documents confirment, en tout état de cause, à quel point les Etats-Unis peuvent s’intéresser au détail des communications de dirigeants de pays alliés. En octobre 2013, le ­député ­socialiste Jean-Jacques Urvoas, rapporteur du projet de loi sur le renseignement, se plaignait d’ailleurs dans les colonnes du Monde que «les Etats-Unis n’ont pas d’alliés, ils n’ont que des cibles ou des vassaux».

    Reste désormais à savoir si ces pratiques se sont poursuivies au-delà de la date des derniers documents que nous publions en collaboration avec WikiLeaks. Sollicité par Libération et Mediapart, l’entourage de François Hollande assure qu’au moment de la visite d’Etat du Président à Washington, en février 2014, «l’engagement a été pris [par Barack Obama] de ne plus pratiquer d’écoutes indifférenciées concernant les services de l’Etat des pays alliés». Egalement sollicités, ni la NSA ni la Maison Blanche n’avaient encore réagi, mardi soir à l’heure du bouclage.

    L’espionnage à l’étranger est l’ultime «zone grise» du renseignement – il est d’ailleurs, en France, le véritable point aveugle du projet de loi sur le renseignement, voué à être adopté ce mercredi. En avril, une résolution de l’Assemblée parlementaire du Conseil de l’Europe préconisait la mise en place d’un «code du renseignement multilatéral». On en est évidemment encore très loin.


    Find this story at 23 June 2015

    Copyright liberation.fr

    NSA Economic Spy Order

    Information Need (IN) – France: Economic Developments
    EEI: H – Foreign Contracts/Feasibility Studies/Negotiations
    Information Need (IN) – France: Economic Developments

    Date 2012
    Classification SECRET
    WikiLeaks Synopsis
    This classified US intelligence “Information Need” spying order mandates long term economic espionage against France in order to obtain details about the economic activities of French companies and the economic policies and decisions of the French government. Information Needs (IN) are collection requirements extracted from the National SIGINT Requirements List, and are used to broadly justify the interception of communications in order to satisfy generic intelligence demands from U.S. policy makers and the U.S. Intelligence Community. This IN, identified as 2002-204 (first created in 2002 and updated for more than a decade) and referenced in the list of Top NSA French Targets previously published by WikiLeaks, shows which particular information of interest (“Essential Elements of Information”, EEI) the relevant Signals Intelligence units are instructed to collect and report about. Such requirements include France’s economic relations with the United States, other countries and international institutions, France’s financial and trade policies, and its views on G-8 and G-20 agendas. “Supported Elements” are those parts of the US government which are supported by (i.e receive intelligence reports derived from) the espionage.
    Download PDF

    IN Standard Report: S-C-2002-204

    Title : (S//REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL) France: Economic Developments

    Originator Classification : SECRET//REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL

    Table of Contents

    EEI A : (U//FOUO) Economic Relations with the United States
    EEI B : (S//REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL) French Business Practices
    EEI C : (S//REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL) French Financial/Macroeconomic Policy Development
    EEI D : (U//FOUO) Views On G-8, G-20 Developments/Issues
    EEI E : (U//FOUO) Budgetary Constraints/Contributions To NATO
    EEI F : (S//REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL) French Views
    EEI G : (U//FOUO) Relations With Least Developed Countries (LDCs) And Transitional States
    EEI H : (U//FOUO) Foreign Contracts/Feasibility Studies/Negotiations
    EEI I : (U//FOUO) Relations With International Financial Institutions
    EEI J : (S//REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL) French Trade Policies
    EEI K : (U//FOUO) Questionable Trade Activities

    (U//FOUO) Supported Element(s):

    EEI: H – Foreign Contracts/Feasibility Studies/Negotiations

    Date 2012
    Classification SECRET//NOFORN
    WikiLeaks Synopsis
    This US economic espionage order (“Essential Elements of Information) for France instructs US spies to collect information on all French sales and financing of significant projects related to telecommunications, electrical generation, gas, oil, nuclear and renewable energy and environmental and healthcare technologies. Most substantially it also mandates the interception and reportage of all French company negotiations and contracts valued at over $200 million. The results of the spying are to be reported to various US trade, political and intelligence agencies (“Supported Elements”).
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    EEI : H

    EEI Classification : SECRET//NOFORN

    Originator EEI Classification : SECRET//REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL

    EEI Title : (U//FOUO) Foreign Contracts/Feasibility Studies/Negotiations
    Question(s) :

    1. (S//REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL) Report impending French contract proposals or feasibility studies and negotiations for international sales or investments in major projects or systems of significant interest to the foreign host country or $200 million or more in sales and/or services, including financing information or projects of high interest including:

    A. Information and telecommunications facilities networks and technology?

    B. Electric power, natural gas, and oil facilities and infrastructure to include nuclear power and renewable energy generation?

    C. Transportation infrastructure and technology to include ports, airports, high-speed rail, and subways?

    D. Environmental technologies used domestically and for export?

    E. Health care infrastructure, services, and technologies, including biotechnology developments?

    Find this story at 29 June 2015

    DOSSIER: LA RÉPUBLIQUE SUR ÉCOUTE ENQUÊTE 2006-2012: Hollande, Sarkozy et Chirac écoutés

    Au-delà des trois chefs d’État français, des ministres, des hauts fonctionnaires, des parlementaires et des diplomates ont été surveillés téléphoniquement pendant près d’une décennie par les services secrets américains, selon des documents obtenus par WikiLeaks.

    Les États-Unis ont placé la République sur écoute. Les présidents François Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy et Jacques Chirac, ainsi que de nombreux ministres, des hauts fonctionnaires, des parlementaires ou des diplomates, ont été écoutés directement ou par ricochet pendant près d’une décennie par les services secrets américains, selon des documents confidentiels de la National Security Agency (NSA) obtenus par WikiLeaks (lire aussi notre version en anglais de cet article).

    D’après des notes de synthèse de la NSA auxquelles Mediapart et Libération ont eu accès, en collaboration avec WikiLeaks, dans le cadre de l’opération Espionnage Élysée, les interceptions se sont étalées de 2006 à 2012 – mais rien ne dit qu’elles n’ont pas commencé plus tôt et ne se sont pas poursuivies depuis. Toutes classifiées « top secret », ces notes détaillent les dessous d’un espionnage obsessionnel de la France par les États-Unis sur des questions diplomatiques, de politique locale ou économiques de tous ordres.

    Les trois présidents français écoutés par la NSA
    Les trois présidents français écoutés par la NSA © DR
    Que les États-Unis écoutent les principaux dirigeants d’un pays allié comme la France relève pour certains du secret de polichinelle. L’information est désormais prouvée par des documents issus du cœur de l’appareil d’État américain.

    Surtout, les éléments que nous rendons publics à partir d’aujourd’hui (voir ici l’analyse des documents) révèlent l’ampleur jusqu’ici insoupçonnée de l’espionnage états-unien, réalisé en dehors de tout cadre judiciaire et de tout réel contrôle. Car ce ne sont pas seulement les présidents de la République successifs qui ont été écoutés ces dernières années, mais toutes les strates de la puissance publique qui ont été, à un moment ou à un autre, la cible des États-Unis, qu’il s’agisse de directeurs d’administration, de ministres, de conseillers présidentiels et ministériels, de diplomates, de porte-parole. Au sein même de l’Élysée, par exemple, de très nombreuses lignes téléphoniques (fixes ou portables) ont été branchées.

    Déjà passablement écornée par les révélations de l’ancien agent Edward Snowden, l’image de la NSA et, avec elle, des États-Unis ne devrait pas sortir grandie de ces nouvelles révélations, qui jettent une lumière crue sur les pratiques agressives et déloyales de la première puissance mondiale à l’encontre d’un pays normalement considéré comme « ami ». Du moins, en façade.

    Contactée, la NSA n’a pas souhaité faire de commentaire.

    Comme ses deux prédécesseurs de droite, l’actuel président socialiste François Hollande n’a pas échappé à la curiosité des grandes oreilles de Washington. Un rapport du 22 mai 2012 de la NSA fait ainsi explicitement référence à une conversation tenue quatre jours plus tôt entre le président fraîchement élu et son premier ministre de l’époque, Jean-Marc Ayrault. La conversation porte sur la volonté de François Hollande d’organiser des « consultations secrètes » avec l’opposition allemande, concernant l’éventualité d’une sortie de la Grèce de la zone euro – un sujet toujours d’actualité.

    Les analystes de la NSA évoquent dans le même document l’existence de « précédents rapports » concernant des entretiens passés au sujet de la chancelière Angela Merkel. Ce qui laisse donc supposer que les interceptions américaines du président français ont bel et bien été monnaie courante.

    À l’Élysée, on indiquait mardi 23 juin que, sans avoir conservé la trace de cette conversation, celle-ci est « tout à fait crédible ». Mais sur le fond, la présidence de la République n’a souhaité faire aucun commentaire à ce stade. Dans l’entourage du président, on précise toutefois qu’en amont de la rencontre entre François Hollande et Barack Obama, le 11 février 2014 à Washington, puis lors de cette entrevue, « l’engagement a été pris de ne plus pratiquer d’écoutes indifférenciées des services de l’État d’un pays allié ».

    Le directeur général de LR (ex-UMP), Frédéric Péchenard, a communiqué l’information à Nicolas Sarkozy, qui « ne souhaite pas réagir pour l’instant ».

    Comme pour la plupart des documents obtenus par WikiLeaks, le rapport de mai 2012 de la NSA ciblant François Hollande est surmonté de nombreuses initiales qui, une fois décryptées, donnent la mesure du caractère ultrasensible des données désormais publiques. Estampillées « top secret » (TS), ces notes traitent de renseignements obtenus par des interceptions de signaux électroniques (SI pour SIGINT, soit “signal intelligence”) et ne doivent sous aucun prétexte être partagées avec un pays étranger (NF pour NOFORN, soit “no foreigner”).

    La note Hollande est également accompagnée, comme pour de nombreuses autres, de la mention « unconventional », une catégorie particulière dans la nomenclature de la NSA qui correspond aux opérations non conventionnelles.

    Revealed: how US tapped phones of three French presidents

    US phone taps on France – why Paris would prefer to keep a low profile

    WikiLeaks documents on US snooping on France – what the presidents said

    France condemns ‘unacceptable’ spying on its presidents

    35 « leaders internationaux » espionnés par la NSA

    Espionnage d’intérêts français par le renseignement allemand : la France se tait

    Espionnage : à droite et à gauche, l’allié américain a déçu
    Toujours dans cette même note Hollande figure une petite mention supplémentaire, qui est tout sauf anodine : « Foreign Satellite ». Ce terme, FORNSAT en abrégé, désigne un réseau mondial de stations d’écoutes de la NSA réparties dans les pays alliés. Tous les regards se portent aujourd’hui, sans qu’il soit possible d’en avoir la certitude absolue, vers des antennes satellites allemandes.

    La presse a en effet plusieurs fois fait état ces derniers mois de la sous-traitance par les services secrets allemands (le BND) de l’espionnage américain, ce qui a provoqué une forte indignation en Allemagne et l’ouverture d’une enquête parlementaire qui cherche précisément le type de documents que WikiLeaks a obtenus.

    En dehors de l’actuel chef de l’État français, d’autres hautes personnalités françaises ont été écoutées. D’après les documents en notre possession, sur lesquels nous reviendrons dans les prochains jours, les anciens présidents Nicolas Sarkozy et Jacques Chirac, l’ancien ministre socialiste de l’économie Pierre Moscovici (aujourd’hui commissaire européen) ou l’ex-ambassadeur de France à Washington Pierre Vimont ont ainsi été espionnés.

    Il faut dire que l’appétit de renseignements des États-Unis pour la France relève de la boulimie. Un autre document confidentiel (voir ci-dessous) de la NSA, rédigé sous la présidence Sarkozy (2007-2012), révèle quant à lui la liste des cibles françaises définies par les États-Unis. Sont concernés, pêle-mêle : le portable personnel du président de l’époque, Nicolas Sarkozy, ceux du conseiller diplomatique Jean-David Levitte, du secrétaire général de l’Élysée Claude Guéant, du porte-parole du ministère des affaires étrangères Bernard Valero, de l’ancien ministre Jean-Pierre Jouyet (aujourd’hui secrétaire général de l’Elysée), celui d’un responsable du Quai d’Orsay non identifié, ou du ministre du commerce extérieur Pierre Lellouche.

    La liste des cibles françaises établie par la NSA sous la présidence Sarkozy
    La liste des cibles françaises établie par la NSA sous la présidence Sarkozy
    Pour Claude Guéant, ancien secrétaire général de l’Elysée et ex-ministre de l’intérieur, « cette pratique est scandaleuse ». « Le gouvernement français doit réagir comme il se doit. Au minimum, cela nécessite une explication au plus haut niveau, un engagement absolu à mettre un terme à ces pratiques. Nous nous acheminons vers un monde qui est extrêmement préoccupant, où plus personne n’a plus d’intimité, de confidentialité », se plaint ce proche de Nicolas Sarkozy.

    « Si les Américains ont écouté Merkel, on ne voit pas pourquoi les autres n’auraient pas été écoutés », commente Frédéric Péchenard, ancien patron de la police nationale et actuel directeur général des Républicains. « Mais si l’on veut être capables de se défendre, il faut que nos services soient à la hauteur. Il nous faut des moyens techniques humains et juridiques plus efficaces. Être espionné par ceux qui sont censés être nos amis, ça peut poser un problème d’ordre diplomatique », précise-t-il.

    « Moi qui étais un grand ami de l’Amérique, je le suis de moins en moins », réagit pour sa part le député Pierre Lellouche auprès de Mediapart. « Je ne suis pas surpris. Ça ne m’étonne pas d’avoir été écouté lorsque j’étais au commerce extérieur, ça intéresse beaucoup les Américains, l’espionnage industriel. On a tout le temps ce genre de conversations. C’est d’ailleurs l’argument qu’on nous rétorque en ce moment dans le cadre de la loi sur le renseignement : on est écouté par tout le monde, pourquoi s’empêcher de nous écouter ? On s’écoute de partout. Malheureusement, je le dirai à l’Assemblée nationale, on est dans un imperium global sur le plan économique, où les États-Unis n’hésitent pas à mettre en réseaux la CIA, la NSA, mais aussi la justice américaine, qui ensuite fait des saisines. Je le dénonce sans arrêt », ajoute-t-il.

    D’après les documents de la NSA, les lignes fixes des conseillers africains en poste à l’Élysée et les numéros des… standards des ministères de l’agriculture et des finances sont également visés. On trouve encore dans la liste des cibles l’antenne du Centre de transmission gouvernemental (CTG) situé à l’Élysée. Celui-ci est chargé d’assurer, à l’abri du “secret défense”, la permanence des liaisons gouvernementales et tout particulièrement celles du chef de l’État et du Premier ministre. Un autre numéro, référencé sous l’intitulé « FR VIP AIRCRAFT REL », renvoie après vérification à une ligne de la flotte aérienne du gouvernement, l’Etec, qui dépend de l’armée de l’air.

    Au-delà du scandale que peut susciter aujourd’hui cet espionnage américain, la facilité avec laquelle les États-Unis paraissent pouvoir intercepter la moindre conversation des plus hauts dirigeants français interroge aujourd’hui la faiblesse des capacités de contre-ingérence des services de renseignement français. À ce propos, l’Élysée a coutume de rappeler que sur les questions diplomatiques et militaires, il n’y a jamais eu de fuite quelle qu’elle soit, précisant que s’agissant des sujets les plus sensibles, toutes les précautions sont prises. Jusqu’à preuve du contraire.


    Find this story at 23 June 2015

    Copyright mediapart.fr

    Espionnage Élysée (2015)

    Press Release Top French NSA Targets Top French NSA Intercepts Economic Spy Order

    Today, 29 June 2015, WikiLeaks continues “Espionnage Élysée”, our ongoing publication of a collection of TOP SECRET documents from United States surveillance operations against France.

    Today’s publication comprises seven top secret documents detailing how the US has had a decade- long policy of economic espionage against France, including the interception of all French corporate contracts and negotiations valued at more than $200 million. The documents demonstrate that the US National Security Agency, far from being a rogue organisation, is carrying out an economic espionage policy created by the US Director of National Intelligence. The documents detail the intelligence process, from the tasking of the NSA with collection of desired economic information to the production of developed intelligence reports, which are sent to “Supported Elements” of the US government, including the US Department of Commerce, the US Trade Represenative, the US Treasury and the Central Intelligence Agency.

    Central within the cache of documents are two long-term spying orders (“collection requirements”) which define the kinds of intelligence the NSA is tasked with collecting in its surveillance operations against France. The documents make clear that the NSA has been tasked with obtaining intelligence on all aspects of the French economy, from government policy, diplomacy, banking and participation in international bodies to infrastructural development, business practices and trade activities. The documents establish that the US economic intelligence operations against France have run for more than a decade and started as early as 2002. Some of the documents are authorised for sharing with the “Five Eyes” partners – the group of Anglophone countries in close intelligence co-operation with the United States: Canada, New Zealand, Australia and France’s fellow member state of the European Union, the United Kingdom, strongly suggesting that the United Kingdom has also benefited from the United States’ economic espionage activities against France.

    The cache also includes five TOP SECRET intelligence summaries from US spying on the conversations and communications of French officials. The documents show US spying on the French Finance Minister, a French Senator, officials within the Treasury and Economic Policy Directorate, the French ambassador to the United States, and officials with direct responsibility for EU trade policy. The intercepts reveal internal French deliberation and policy on the World Trade Organization, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the G7 and the G20, the 2013 French budget, the decline of the automotive industry in France, and the involvement of French companies in the Oil for Food programme in Iraq during the 1990s.

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said: “The United States has been conducting economic espionage against France for more than a decade. Not only has it spied on the French Finance Minister, it has ordered the interception of every French company contract or negotiation valued at more than $200 million. That covers not only all of France’s major companies, from BNP Paribas, AXA and Credit Agricole to Peugeot and Renault, Total and Orange, but it also affects the major French farming associations. $200 million is roughly 3,000 French jobs. Hundreds of such contracts are signed every year. The United States not only uses the results of this spying itself, but swaps these intercepts with the United Kingdom. Do French citizens deserve to know that their country is being taken to the cleaners by the spies of supposedly allied countries? Mais oui!”

    For French-language interviews/comment regarding Espionnage Élysée please contact WikiLeaks’ Paris-based legal advisor, Juan Branco: Tel. +33 671 19 21 47

    Today, 23 June 2015, WikiLeaks began publishing “Espionnage Élysée”, a collection of TOP SECRET intelligence reports and technical documents from the US National Security Agency (NSA) concerning targeting and signals intelligence intercepts of the communications of high-level officials from successive French governments over the last ten years.

    The top secret documents derive from directly targeted NSA surveillance of the communications of French Presidents Francois Hollande (2012–present), Nicolas Sarkozy (2007–2012), and Jacques Chirac (1995–2007), as well as French cabinet ministers and the French Ambassador to the United States. The documents also contain the “selectors” from the target list, detailing the cell phone numbers of numerous officials in the Elysee up to and including the direct cell phone of the President.

    Prominent within the top secret cache of documents are intelligence summaries of conversations between French government officials concerning some of the most pressing issues facing France and the international community, including the global financial crisis, the Greek debt crisis, the leadership and future of the European Union, the relationship between the Hollande administration and the German government of Angela Merkel, French efforts to determine the make-up of the executive staff of the United Nations, French involvement in the conflict in Palestine and a dispute between the French and US governments over US spying on France.

    A founding member state of the European Union and one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, France is formally a close ally of the United States, and plays a key role in a number of US-associated international institutions, including the Group of 7 (G7), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

    The revelation of the extent of US spying against French leaders and diplomats echoes a previous disclosure in the German press concerning US spying on the communications of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German officials. That disclosure provoked a political scandal in Germany, eventuating in an official inquiry into German intelligence co-operation with the United States, which is still ongoing.

    While the German disclosures focused on the isolated fact that senior officials were targeted by US intelligence, WikiLeaks’ publication today provides much greater insight into US spying on its allies, including the actual content of intelligence products deriving from the intercepts, showing how the US spies on the phone calls of French leaders and ministers for political, economic and diplomatic intelligence.

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said: “The French people have a right to know that their elected government is subject to hostile surveillance from a supposed ally. We are proud of our work with leading French publishers Liberation and Mediapart to bring this story to light. French readers can expect more timely and important revelations in the near future.”

    Find this story at 29 June 2015

    Trade Secrets : Is the U.S.’s most advanced surveillance system feeding economic intelligence to American businesses? (1999)

    No one is surprised that the United States uses sophisticated electronic spying techniques against its enemies. But Europeans are increasingly worried about allegations that the U.S. uses those same techniques to gather economic intelligence about its allies.
    The most extensive claims yet came this spring in a report written for the European Parliament. The report says that the U.S.

    National Security Agency, through an electronic surveillance system called Echelon, routinely tracks telephone, fax, and e-mail transmissions from around the world and passes on useful corporate intelligence to American companies.

    Among the allegations: that the NSA fed information to Boeing and McDonnell Douglas enabling the companies to beat out European Airbus Industrie for a $ 6 billion contract; and that Raytheon received information that helped it win a $ 1.3 billion contract to provide radar to Brazil, edging out the French company Thomson-CSF. These claims follow previous allegations that the NSA supplied U.S. automakers with information that helped improve their competitiveness with the Japanese (see “Company Spies,” May/June 1994).

    Is there truth to these allegations? The NSA is among the most secretive of U.S. intelligence agencies and won’t say much beyond the fact that its mission is “foreign signals intelligence.” The companies involved all refused to comment.

    “Since the NSA’s collection capabilities are so grotesquely powerful, it’s difficult to know what’s going on over there,” says John Pike, an analyst at the watchdog group Federation of American Scientists, who has tracked the NSA for years.

    This much is known: The NSA owns one of the largest collections of supercomputers in the world, and it’s an open secret–as documented in the European Parliament report–that Echelon vacuums up massive amounts of data from communications satellites and the Internet and then uses its computers to winnow it down. The system scans communications for keywords–“bomb,” for instance–that might tip off analysts to an interesting topic.

    Fueling allegations of corporate espionage is the fact that defense contractors and U.S. intelligence agencies are linked extensively through business relationships. Raytheon, for instance, has large contracts to service NSA equipment, according to the European report.

    Englishman Glyn Ford, the European Parliament member who initiated the study, wants the NSA to come clean about its activities in Europe. And the Europeans have some leverage on this issue, if they decide to use it. In a drive to improve surveillance, the United States is pressuring European governments to make telephone companies build eavesdropping capabilities into their new systems. But if that’s what the U.S. wants, says Ford, it’s going to have to be open about what information it’s collecting: “If we are going to leave the keys under the doormat for the United States, we want a guarantee that they’re not going to steal the family silver,” he says.

    In the meantime, congressional critics have started to wonder if all that high-powered eavesdropping is limited to overseas snooping. In April, Bob Barr (R-Ga.), a member of the House Government Reform Committee, said he was worried by reports that the NSA was engaged in illicit domestic spying.

    “We don’t have any direct evidence from the NSA, since they’ve refused to provide any reports, even when asked by the House Intelligence Committee,” Barr says. “But if in fact the NSA is pulling two million transmissions an hour off of these satellites, I don’t think there’s any way they have of limiting them to non-U.S. citizens.”

    Last May, after the NSA stonewalled requests to discuss the issue, Congress amended the intelligence appropriations bill to require the agency to submit a report to Congress. (The bill is still in a conference committee.) And the NSA will face more questions when the Government Reform Committee holds hearings on Echelon and other surveillance programs.

    “We ought to prevent any agency from the dragnet approach–where they throw out a net and drag anything in,” Barr says.

    Kurt Kleiner
    Mother Jones November 1, 1999

    Find this story at 1 November 1999

    Copyright Mother Jones

    Canadian military predicted Libya would descend into civil war if foreign countries helped overthrow Gaddafi (2015)

    Canadian military intelligence officers predicted in 2011 that Libya could descend into a lengthy civil war if foreign countries provided assistance to rebels opposing the country’s dictator Muammar Gaddafi, according to documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen.

    The warning, made just days before several countries, including Canada, began their March 2011 bombing campaign against Gaddafi’s regime, has unfolded as predicted.

    Libya has descended into chaos as rival tribes and militias continue to battle each other for control of the country.

    Last week, Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Dayri warned that warring factions were pushing his country into a full-scale civil war. Italy has also raised concerns that Islamic extremists who now occupy parts of the country pose a threat to the region and Europe.

    The Canadian government and military played key roles in overthrowing Gaddafi and highlighted those efforts as a significant victory both for Libya and Canadians.

    At the time, then-foreign affairs minister John Baird reinforced Canada’s support for the rebel groups fighting Gaddafi, pointing out they had a well-developed plan that would transform the country into a democracy. “The one thing we can say categorically is that they couldn’t be any worse than Col. Gaddafi,” said Mr. Baird.

    But when Gaddafi was overthrown in the fall of 2011, the various rebel groups refused to surrender their weapons and instead began fighting each other.

    The uprising against Gaddafi began in February 2011. But it was NATO warplanes that destroyed large parts of Libya’s military and are now credited with allowing rag-tag militias and assorted armed groups to eventually seize control of the country.

    Various nations began the military intervention in Libya on March 19, 2011. Canadian CF-18 fighter jets started their bombing runs on March 23.

    Just days before, however, Canadian intelligence specialists sent a briefing report shared with senior officers. “There is the increasing possibility that the situation in Libya will transform into a long-term tribal/civil war,” they wrote in their March 15, 2011 assessment. “This is particularly probable if opposition forces received military assistance for foreign militaries.”

    Some officers in the Canadian Forces tried to raise concerns early on in the war that removing Gaddafi would play into the hands of Islamic extremists, but military sources say those warnings went unheeded. Later, military members would privately joke about Canada’s CF-18s being part of “Al-Qaeda’s air force,” since their bombing runs helped to pave the way for rebel groups aligned with the terrorist group.

    The Royal Canadian Air Force flew 10% of the missions during NATO’s campaign.

    One can quarrel with it or not quarrel with it, but the mission was we would provide air cover for those that were initially subject to Gaddafi’s attacks and ultimately became his overthrowers

    At the time of the Libyan uprising, U.S. Adm. James Stavridis, the NATO leader, acknowledged that some of the rebels benefiting from the air strikes could be linked to Islamic extremists. But he said that, overall, the opposition forces were made up of “responsible men and women.”

    In September 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended Canada’s role in Libya, suggesting that neither it nor NATO can be held responsible for the chaos that has since engulfed that country. “One can quarrel with it or not quarrel with it, but the mission was we would provide air cover for those that were initially subject to Gaddafi’s attacks and ultimately became his overthrowers,” Mr. Harper explained shortly before meeting NATO leaders.

    “The decision was made at the outset that we were not going to go into Libya (on the ground) per se. It was going to be up to the Libyans to then make the best of the situation.”

    Gaddafi was considered a brutal dictator, but in later years he was embraced by Western leaders, who provided his forces with military training and weapons.

    Analysts with the Department of National Defence also noted Gaddafi was a staunch ally of the West in the war against Al-Qaeda and Islamic extremism.

    His efforts against Al-Qaeda-backed forces and his co-operation with the U.S. in providing information on terrorist networks were highlighted in a number of DND reports from 2002, 2003 and 2006 obtained by the Ottawa Citizen using the Access to Information law.

    Gaddafi had his own reasons for helping the U.S. and Western nations in fighting Islamic extremists, since they also represented a threat to his own power.

    POSTMEDIA NEWS 03.01.2015

    Find this story at 3 January 2015

    © 2015 Postmedia Network Inc.

    Britain hid secret MI6 plan to break up Libya from US, Hillary Clinton told by confidant (2015)

    Sidney Blumenthal, a long-time friend of the Clintons, claimed David Cameron backed a French plot to create a break away zone eastern Libya

    Britain acted deceitfully in Libya and David Cameron authorised an MI6 plan to “break up” the country, a close confidante of Hillary Clinton claimed in a series of secret reports sent to the then-secretary of state.
    Sidney Blumenthal, a long-time friend of the Clintons, emailed Mrs Clinton on her personal account to warn her that Britain was “game playing” in Libya.
    Mr Blumenthal had no formal role in the US State Department and his memos to Mrs Clinton were sourced to his own personal contacts in the Middle East and Europe.
    Nevertheless, Mrs Clinton seems to have taken some of his reports seriously and forwarded them on to senior diplomats working at the highest levels of American foreign policy.
    The first of Mr Blumenthal’s Libya memos – which were leaked to the New York Times – was sent on April 8, 2011, as rebel forces struggled to make gains against Gaddafi’s troops, and had “UK game playing” in the subject line.
    The memo warned that British diplomats and MI6 officers were maintaining secret back channels with the Gaddafi regime “in an effort to protect the British position in the event that the rebellion settles into a stalemate”.

    Mr Blumenthal claimed that MI6 spies were in discussions with Saif Gaddafi, the dictator’s son, “regarding future relations between the two countries if he takes over power from his father and implements reforms”.
    The memo also claims that the Libyan rebels were deeply suspicious of Britain and suspected that the UK would be “satisfied with a stalemate” in which Gaddafi or his family stayed in power in part of the country.
    Their suspicions were stoked when Gaddafi’s foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, defected to Britain in March 2011, Mr Blumenthal claimed. The rebels apparently saw the defection as evidence that Britain had secret lines of communication with the highest ranks of the Gaddafi regime.
    Extract from the email:

    Eight minutes after receiving Mr Blumenthal’s email, Mrs Clinton forwarded it on to one of her most senior aides. She did not comment on the allegations about Britain. A week later, she met with William Hague, the then-foreign secretary at a Nato summit in Berlin.
    Perhaps unbeknownst to Mr Blumenthal, who was working for Bill Clinton’s global charity at the time and not privy to classified information, the CIA was maintaining its own back channels to Gaddafi.
    Michael Morell, the CIA’s deputy director, spoke regularly to Abdullah Senussi, the head of Gaddafi’s internal intelligence service, even as US aircraft were bombing regime forces on the battlefield.
    Mr Blumenthal emailed Mrs Clinton about Britain again on March 8, 2012 with the subject: “France & UK behind Libya breakup”.
    By this time Gaddafi was dead and his regime had collapsed and a provisional government, the Libyan National Transitional Council, was trying to assert its authority across the country.
    Mr Blumenthal told Mrs Clinton that MI6 and its French counterpart, the DGSE, were secretly encouraging rebels in eastern Libya to establish “a semi-autonomous zone” outside the control of the new government.
    The plot was allegedly instigated by advisors to the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who believed that the new Libyan government was not “rewarding” French businesses for France’s role in overthrowing Gaddafi.
    He alleged that MI6 joined in the plan “at the instruction of the office of Prime Minister David Cameron”.
    “The French and British intelligence officials believe that the semi-autonomous regime in the eastern city of Benghazi will be able to organise business opportunities in that region,” he wrote.
    Extract from the email:

    Mrs Clinton seems to have been sceptical about the report and forwarded it on to her aide Jake Sullivan with the comment: “This one strains credulity. What do you think?”
    Mrs Clinton’s aides appear unimpressed with the stream of emails coming from Mr Blumenthal and Mr Sullivan replied that the MI6 allegations sounded like “like a thin conspiracy theory”.
    Mrs Clinton was asked about the emails during a campaign appearance in Iowa on Tuesday and said Mr Blumenthal had been “a friend of mine for a very long time”.
    “He sent unsolicited emails which I passed on in some instances. That’s just part of the give and take,” she said.
    On Thursday, a new batch of leaked emails showed that Mr Blumenthal had passed on allegations that MI6 was involved in talks to broker a ceasefire and install Saif Gaddafi in his father’s place.
    Saif was one of the most Western of Gaddafi’s children and had strong links to Britain. He studied at the London School of Economics (LSE) and was hosted at Buckingham Palace.

    A June 3 email from said the Libyan regime had “opened extremely complicated negotiations with the government of the United Kingdom” over a deal that would allow the Gaddafis “to maintain some level of control” in Libya.
    Under the regime’s proposal Saif Gaddafi could take his father’s role as head of state but share power with a cabinet made up partly of representatives from the opposition.
    Gaddafi himself would be allowed to go into exile without facing war crimes or corruption charges by the new government.
    The initial conversations were apparently carried out by MI6 officers and it is not clear if the talks ever progressed to senior levels of government.
    Mrs Clinton did not dismiss the claims and forwarded them on to a senior aide while asking her personal assistant to print them out.
    Extract from the email:

    The email claims Saif and his circle knew there was “little chance” that the rebels would agree to the offer and suspected MI6 may have engaged in the talks only “as a means of collecting intelligence while protecting British interests in Libya” and had no real interest in a deal.
    In any event the plan was never carried out and Saif, was captured by rebel forces in November 2011, a few weeks after his father’s death.
    He is now facing trial in Libya on charges that he orchestrated a campaign of terror against civilian populations during the uprising against his father.
    The Foreign Office did not respond to a request for comment.
    Mr Blumenthal memos have aroused interest in the US because they appear to show a blurring of the lines between Mrs Clinton’s State Department and the Clinton Foundation set up by her husband.
    Although he had no role in the State Department, he was working for the Clinton Foundation and various political groups allied with Mrs Clinton, according to the New York Times.
    Mr Blumenthal worked in Bill Clinton’s White House and was known for fierce loyalty to both the Clintons and for aggressively confronting their critics.
    Aides to Barack Obama prevented Mrs Clinton from bringing him into the State Department in 2009, believing that he would only stir up trouble after the bitterly-fought election battle between Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton.

    Raf Sanchez By Raf Sanchez, Washington4:30PM BST 21 May 2015

    Find this story at 21 May 2015
    © Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2015

    Charlie Hebdo: Wat rest is schaamte en vragen…

    De wijze waarop de internationale media over de aanslagen op de burelen van Charlie Hebdo en in de joodse supermarkt hebben bericht, is niet alleen ronduit verbijsterend te noemen maar roept tevens vele vragen op.

    De definitie van vrijheid van meningsuiting is in 2015 erg eenvoudig geworden. Als je iets niet doet dan pleeg je censuur, als je iets wel doet dan ben je het goede voorbeeld voor de vrijheid en de vrijheid van meningsuiting. Dit simplisme tekent de nieuwe wereld orde sinds 2001. Beledigen moet kunnen, helemaal als mediabedrijf, anders pleeg je zelfcensuur. Het te kijk zetten van Mohammed is trending topic. Vragen of dit beledigen iets bijdraagt aan een maatschappelijk debat, of het wel zin heeft in een rechtsorde, noodzakelijk is voor het blootleggen van misstanden of in andere zin belangrijk is, worden niet gesteld.

    Hetzelfde mechanisme herhaalt zich bij een aanslag die gelabeld wordt als zijnde terroristisch. Kritische vragen, analyse en beschouwing is niet langer noodzakelijk. De verdachten zijn terroristen, in het geval van moslims worden ze gelabeld als zijnde jihadisten, uitwassen, barbaren of andere demonen. De rol van de overheid, het functioneren van politie- en inlichtingendiensten, twijfel over het verloop van de gebeurtenissen, niets is meer nodig. Het draaiboek ligt klaar.

    Charlie Hebdo

    Een aanslag vraagt om chocoladeletters, vingerwijzingen en insinuaties. Als er dan ook nog een persoon is die het claimt uit naam van Allah zijn we klaar. Ook dit keer is het gelukkig AQAS, een zijtak van Al-Qaeda, die een schuldbekentenis de wereld heeft in geslingerd met betrekking tot de aanslag op de redactie van Charlie Hebdo en een joodse winkel van begin dit jaar in Parijs en het hoofdstuk kan worden afgesloten.

    Als de aanslag van deze ‘barbaren’ wordt gepleegd op een redactie van een mediabedrijf dan is de vrijheid van meningsuiting, de vrijheid, onze waarden, de westerse vrije mentaliteit en andere superlatieven in gevaar en moeten wij het ‘kwaad’ uitroeien, van de aarde vegen en andere grote daden verrichten. Zie hier het Charlie Hebdo scenario in herhaling op alle voorgaande aanslagen.

    De Amerikaanse president G.W. Bush vatte dit scenario in 2001 simpelweg als volgt samen: ‘If you are not with us you are with the terrorists.’ Vandaar dat Bush niet vervolgd wordt voor de vele Amerikaanse oorlogsmisdaden, maar de Franse komiek Dieudonné wel voor verheerlijking van terrorisme omdat hij ‘Je me sens Charlie Coulibaly’ twitterde. En ook Maurice Sinet die vervolgd werd voor antisemitisme en aanzetten tot rassenhaat in verband met een zin in een column over joden, en vervolgens werd ontslagen door de directie van Charlie Hebdo.

    Want dáár zit het onderscheid. Grappen over de Holocaust, jodenvervolging, etc. zouden aanzetten tot haat, grappige tweets over aanslagen zouden terrorisme verheerlijken, maar grappen over de islam zijn vrijheid van meningsuiting en daar zou je vanaf moeten blijven. Cartoons, tekeningen, foto’s, verhalen, opinies, meningen; alles heeft natuurlijk uiteindelijk te maken met de geprefereerde schoonheid van beeld en tekst. Iets kan je bevallen of niet.

    Charlie Hebdo zou iedereen op de hak nemen, maar dat lijkt niet echt het geval. Er was een periode dat het blad het gemunt had op vrouwen, want die reageerden zo lekker en sinds de Mohammed tekeningen van de Deen Kurt Westergaard is de profeet kop van jut. De moslims reageren namelijk zo leuk. Niet-blanke Franse ministers, zoals van Justitie Christiane Taubira-Delannon werden als apen afgebeeld, maar het blad ging niet zover om dat met Barack Obama te doen.

    In de periode van ‘bring back our girls’ werden de ontvoerde meiden in Nigeria afgebeeld als zwangere bijstandsmoeders die hun uitkering niet kwijt wilden. De tekeningen zouden allemaal een diepere betekenis hebben, een dubbele bodem, maar welke diepere betekenis dan of onderbroekenlol of verhuld racisme wordt niet duidelijk. Het adagium lijkt te zijn dat alles moet kunnen, of eigenlijk toch niet.

    Vrijheid van meningsuiting

    De essentie van de vrijheid van meningsuiting is echter niet zozeer dat je alles mag zeggen, dan zou ontkenning van de Holocaust en het beledigen van joden ook een recht zijn, maar heeft meer te maken met het tarten van de macht. En daar wringt de schoen, want zijn de moslims aan de macht in de wereld, Europa, Frankrijk, Denemarken, Nederland? Is er een moslimpartij die de absolute meerderheid heeft in enig parlement in Europa? En vanwaar een grap eindeloos herhalen als kleine kinderen op een speelplaats om het jongetje met het keppeltje elke dag te pesten. Is dat allemaal vrijheid van meningsuiting?

    Mediabedrijven hebben niet meer recht op vrijheid van meningsuiting dan een willekeurige burger. Elke aanslag of bombardement is er een te veel, elk mensenleven telt. En als er dan getreurd wordt om een aanslag op de vrijheid van meningsuiting zodra de redactie van Charlie Hebdo wordt geraakt, waarom dan geen voorpagina’s met verzet wegens de Amerikaanse aanslagen op de burelen van het mediabedrijf Al Jazeera in Afghanistan (2001) en Irak (2003). Waar waren toen alle zogenoemde voorvechters van de ‘vrijheid van meningsuiting’ en de ‘hoeders van de democratie’? Of gaat het alleen maar om het recht om Allah door het slijk te halen? Dan moet dat gezegd worden, dat heeft namelijk niets met enige vrijheid te maken.

    Uiteindelijk heeft vrijheid van meningsuiting en de zogenoemde claim van de journalistiek dat zij de hoeders van de democratie zouden zijn, eerder te maken met de berichtgeving over de aanslag op de burelen van Charlie Hebdo dan met berichtgeving over de vermeende aanslag op ‘onze waarden’.

    De berichtgeving over de aanslag zelf is verbijsterend, want als er iets aan de hand is bij elke aanslag waar dan ook in de wereld is dat er vragen moeten worden gesteld bij het optreden van overheden, helemaal als die overheden zelf de straat op gaan om te demonstreren. Als president Kadyrov van Tsjetsjenië honderdduizenden demonstranten tegen de cartoons van Charlie Hebdo op de been krijgt, is dat georkestreerd, maar als in Parijs honderdduizenden de straat op gaan achter een virtuele rij regeringsleiders, ook met een even twijfelachtige staat van dienst als Kadyrov, is dat een spontane uiting van steun aan de ‘westerse waarden’.

    De media falen

    In de zee van artikelen die na de aanslagen door de media werd geproduceerd, lijkt het alsof je niet kunt zeggen dat je geen Charlie bent of wilt zijn, of dat Charlie eigenlijk een racist is. De berichtgeving was er een van een journalist die bibberend naar de machthebbers rent en vraagt om bescherming, niet van een hoeder van de democratie die meteen vragen opdreunt over een aanslag waar alleen maar vragen over te stellen zijn. Zelfs parallellen met het verleden zouden die vragen moeten oproepen.

    De aanslagen in 1995/1996 in Frankrijk op onder andere een gematigde imam, twee metrostations, een joodse school bijvoorbeeld van de zogenoemde Algerijnse groep GIA, Groupe Islamique Armé. De Franse GIA was een product van de Algerijnse geheime dienst, waarbij de rol van de Franse geheime dienst nooit is opgehelderd. Politiek kwam het zowel Frankrijk als Algerije goed uit. De democratisch gekozen Algerijnse moslimpartij FIS werd afgezet, net als in 2013 de moslimbroeders in Egypte en het westen omarmde de Algerijnse dictatuur, net als nu de Egyptische dictatuur.

    De aanslagen in Madrid zijn de enige aanslagen die ooit onder een vergrootglas van een parlementaire enquêtecommissie zijn gelegd, met de ene onthulling na de ander tot gevolg. Over een falend beveiligingsapparaat dat explosieven verkoopt aan de toekomstige daders en de andere kant opkijkt als zij hun aanslagen voorbereiden en uiteindelijk uitvoeren.

    De meeste aanslagen echter worden niet echt onderzocht. Het komt de politiek goed uit dat het zogenoemde ‘jihadisten’ zijn en de hoeders van de democratie hebben te veel te verliezen om kritische vragen te stellen. Zie ook de moord op Theo van Gogh, waar nu opnieuw een onderzoek naar loopt en waarvan de uitkomst bij voorbaat als vaststaat. Niemand trekt het veiligheidsapparaat in twijfel.

    Eigenlijk kun je spreken van eenzelfde Pavlov-reactie als bij het optreden van het Nederlandse leger in het buitenland. Hoeveel burgers zijn er omgekomen tijdens bombardementen of gevechten in Syrië, Irak en Mali van ‘onze jongens’ die samen optrekken met de Amerikanen of de Fransen? Interesseert ons dat soms niet in deze oorlog tegen de terreur? En de Nederlandse jongeren die nu omkomen bij bombardementen, waar zijn zij schuldig aan? Aan het lidmaatschap van een terroristische organisatie en staat daar dan de doodstraf op? Hebben zij een eerlijk proces gehad? En worden mensen die meevechten met de Koerden, de Israëli en elders in de wereld op dezelfde wijze langs de terroristische meetlat gelegd?

    Tegen het simplisme met betrekking tot terrorisme en vrijheid van meningsuiting is niet op te boksen, wij capituleren. Want als dat de waarden zijn waar wij voor zouden moeten staan, is schaamte wat er overblijft, schaamte voor zoveel gebrek aan beschaving, voor de teloorgang van waarheidsvinding, voor het gebrek aan kritiek op al die zogenoemde verlichte waarden, schaamte voor zoveel simplisme, iets dat alleen maar tot meer geweld en meer bloedvergieten zal leiden.

    Wij hebben slechts vragen over de aanslag op Charlie Hebdo en de joodse winkel, de daders en de handelwijze van het politieapparaat:

    1. Waarom is besloten de aanslagplegers niet langer in de gaten te houden? En geldt dat voor allen, ook voor de schoolgaande neef? Werd die surveillance van de twee broers in juni 2014 afgebroken? Waarom is besloten die twee broers en die neef in eerste instantie wel in de gaten te houden? Zijn er ook andere maatregelen geweest tegen of rondom deze personen?

    2. Het groepje dat in eerste instantie in de gaten werd gehouden door de inlichtingendiensten, bestond dat uit alleen uit deze drie of vier personen? Of waren er meer? Wie waren de anderen? Waarom hebben anderen uit die groep niets gedaan?

    3. Waarom was het de Amerikaanse inlichtingendiensten wel bekend dat de twee broers die de aanslagen hebben gepleegd in Jemen waren geweest en de Franse diensten niet? Of wisten de Franse diensten dit ook? Kunnen de aanslagen vanuit Jemen zijn gepland? Of kan het ook zijn dat de docenten in Jemen hebben gezegd dat ze maar moesten doen wat ze wilden? Is er contact geweest vanuit Frankrijk met Jemen door de aanslagplegers of vanuit Jemen met de broers in Frankrijk? Zijn er naast een videoboodschap bewijzen voor betrokkenheid van de groep in Jemen aan de aanslagen? ISIS/IS/ISIL is verschillende keren genoemd? Was er een link met IS, en zo ja welke? Zijn de broers daar geweest of hebben daar contact mee gehad? Bij of met welke organisatie? Welke training hebben de broers in Jemen of Syrië gehad, hoe lang, met welke wapens? Hoe goed waren ze, gezien de inslagen op de voorruit van de politieauto konden ze goed met hun wapens overweg? Hebben ze daar ook gevochten?

    4. Kwam de politieauto die in de Allee Verte onder vuur werd genomen door de aanslagplegers af op een melding van schoten van het eerste verkeerde adres waar de aanslag plegers binnendrongen?

    5. Wat was de response tijd van de politie nadat de aanslag plegers op de redactie van het blad Charlie Hebdo enkele mensen hadden doodgeschoten? De aanslagplegers verlieten lopend het pand en liepen naar hun auto in de Allee Verte. Een en ander is gefilmd, hoe lang duurde het voordat de politie aanwezig was? De daders lijken alle tijd te nemen. Hoe is de alarmmelding bij de politie binnengekomen? Wat gebeurde er toen precies?

    6. Is er een draaiboek voor dit soort aanslagen? Er moet een draaiboek zijn geweest voor Charlie Hebdo vanwege eerdere aanslagen/bedreigingen. Heeft men zich gehouden aan dat draaiboek?

    7. Welke eenheden zijn er gealarmeerd na het alarm bij de politie? Zijn er explosievenexperts geweest? Ligt namelijk voor de hand. Waren ze er niet, waarom dan niet?

    8. Waarom loopt de wijkagent op de daders toe? Wat was zijn opdracht? Was hij degene die op de melding binnenkwam? Was hij buurtagent of beveiliger van Charlie Hebdo?

    9. Hoe was de standaard beveiliging van Charlie H. door de Parijse politie geregeld? Was Franck Brinsolaro de enige politieman/beveiliger op de redactie? Waren er geen inlichtingen met betrekking tot bedreigingen van het blad en haar medewerkers?

    10. Klopt het dat de Algerijnse inlichtingendiensten de Franse diensten voor een aanslag waarschuwden? Als dit klopt, betekent het dat de broers of de neef contact hebben gehad met mensen die contact hadden met de Algerijnse inlichtingendienst. Was dat contact vanuit Frankrijk of vanuit Algerije? Het lijkt voor de hand te liggen dat Algerijnse diensten zich zeer interesseren voor de Algerijnse gemeenschap in Frankrijk. Hoever zitten zij daarin? Wat doen ze precies? Hoe zijn de contacten met Franse diensten? Hoeveel en wat voor mensen runt de Algerijnse dienst in Frankrijk en met welk doel? Werden de broers in dit verband gerund door een inlichtingendienst als informant/infiltrant? Zijn zij voor informatie betaald, en zo ja hoeveel?

    11. Zijn de broers door een Franse inlichtingendienst benaderd om voor ze te werken als informant/infiltrant? Zo ja, door welke dienst? Hoe werden ze gerund? Zijn zij betaald voor hun werk voor de diensten? Hoeveel?

    12. Welke organisaties van het Syrisch verzet worden gesteund door het Westen en op welke manier? Door wie precies? Amerikanen? Fransen? Welke rol spelen de Fransen en welke organisaties steunen zij? Leiden de Fransen ook mensen op in trainingskampen zoals de Amerikanen in Jordanië? Hebben Franse instructeurs in Syrië ook contacten met Franse jihadisten en wat voor contacten zijn dat dan? Hoe zit dat met Jemen of met Algerije?

    13. Hoe bekent was het dat Charlie Hebdo elke woensdag vergaderde? Waarom waren de aanslagplegers in eerste instantie op het verkeerde adres?

    14. Waarom verloor de politie de aanslagplegers uit het oog in Parijs na het verlaten van hun auto? Wat zijn de stappen geweest die inlichtingendiensten en politie in Parijs hebben uitgevoerd? Hoe hebben de aanslagplegers de stad kunnen verlaten?

    15. Komen de DNA sporen in de zwarte Citroën overeen met die van de broers? Hoe echt is het identiteitsbewijs en waar is het precies gevonden?

    16 Wat heeft Hamyd Mourad, de zwager van de broers die aangemerkt zijn als daders, met de aanslag te maken? Tot nu toe waren er steeds twee mannen in beeld. Was er een derde verdachte en waar bevond die zich dan? Waarom kwam Hamyd Mourad in een vroeg stadium in beeld als zogenaamde derde dader? Van wie zijn de gymschoenen die uit de zwarte Citroën is gevallen?

    17. Maakt een van de aanslagplegers een militair gebaar als hij de auto in stapt?

    18. Rijden ze uit de straat van Charlie Hebdo en gaan op de hoek opnieuw stilstaan? Waarom hebben ze zoveel tijd?

    19. Zijn er beelden van de overval op het pompstation? Wat gebeurde daar precies? Waarom hebben de aanslagplegers zich niet verschanst in het station?

    20. Kan het zijn dat de twee daders van Charlie Hebdo een auto nodig hadden omdat er nog een ander aanslagdoel was dat verder weg lag? Ligt er iets in de buurt van de plek waar ze werden neergeschoten?

    21. Wat zijn exact de bevelen geweest of instructies voor de bestorming van de drukkerij? is er een bevel geweest om de daders te doden? Of is er erg aangedrongen op gevangen nemen?

    22. Wat klopt er van het verhaal van de wapenhandelaar in Brussel die de wapens aan de aanslagplegers zou hebben verkocht? Zijn alle in Brussel gekochte wapens teruggevonden, als dat de wapens zijn?

    23. Was de supermarkt een hoofddoel? Het lijkt er op dat dat niet zo was. Is er enig materiaal (kaart, plattegrond, aantekeningen) dat kan wijzen op een ander doel?

    24. Toen Coulibaly op de agente schoot, was dat omdat hij werd gestoord bij het uitvoeren van een aanslag bij een ander doel dan de supermarkt? Ligt er iets in de buurt van die schietpartij wat een geschikt doel zou kunnen zijn? Bijvoorbeeld woonde daar iemand die een verband heeft met de daders of met Charlie Hebdo?

    25. Waarom heeft de zelfmoord van een politie-commissaris niets met het onderzoek te maken? Hoe is het mogelijk dat iemand die depressief is en een burn-out heeft zelfmoord kan
    plegen? Wordt er onderzoek gedaan naar de zelfmoord van de man? Waarom pleegde de mand zelfmoord op zijn kantoor?

    26. Is er een relatie tussen familieleden van de vermoordde redactieleden en de mogelijke daders? Wat voor relatie is dat dan?

    27. En nog veel meer vragen.

    Buro Jansen & Janssen

    Find this story at 25 March 2015 in pdf

    or at 25 March 2015

    Manuel Valls a-t-il bloqué des écoutes sur le “clan” Kouachi ?

    EXCLUSIF. Avant le 7 janvier, des interceptions antiterroristes demandées par la DGSE et la DGSI auraient été bloquées. Explications.

    Depuis plusieurs semaines, l’affaire empoisonnait les relations entre le sommet de l’exécutif et les deux principaux services de renseignements français, la DGSI (Direction générale de la sécurité intérieure) et la DGSE (Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure). Bien avant les attentats contre Charlie Hebdo et le supermarché casher de la porte de Vincennes, les chefs de ces deux services – Patrick Calvar (DGSI) et Bernard Bajolet (DGSE) – avaient fait connaître leur mécontentement.

    En cause, selon des sources concordantes : les interdictions de procéder à des interceptions de communications à l’intérieur et à l’extérieur du territoire français, édictées par une proche collaboratrice du Premier ministre Manuel Valls, chargée de les autoriser ou de les interdire, après avis consultatif de la CNCIS (Commission nationale consultative des interceptions de sécurité). Selon les cas qui nous ont été rapportés, ces interdictions préalables ont frappé des écoutes sur au moins une ambassade étrangère en France et sur des “cibles” de nationalité française se trouvant en territoire étranger.

    403 ou BMW ?

    Dimanche 11 janvier, l’ancien directeur de la DCRI (Direction centrale du renseignement intérieur), avant d’être transformée en DGSI, le préfet Bernard Squarcini, a lâché le morceau lors de son passage dans l’émission Le Grand Rendez-vous Europe 1-i>Télé-Le Monde. Selon ses propos, confirmés au Point par d’autres sources, les services avaient bien écouté l’un des frères Kouachi, “mais ça ne donnait rien, et ensuite intervient le gros dispositif juridique qui existe en France : le président de la Commission nationale de contrôle des interceptions de sécurité (CNCIS) vous dit de vous arrêter parce que l’objectif que vous avez demandé dans cette écoute n’apparaît pas ou n’est pas actif”.

    Aux yeux de Squarcini, il s’agit bel et bien d'”une faille du dispositif dans son ensemble”. “Le service de renseignements ne peut travailler qu’avec la boîte à outils qu’on lui fournit. Si vous devez réparer une 403, ça va, si vous devez réparer une BMW, il faut peut-être changer de boîte à outils.”

    “Ils sont stricts, limite obtus”

    En clair, les services auraient demandé à ce que les écoutes qui leur avaient été accordées sur la “cible” Kouachi soient étendues à son entourage. Cette mesure aurait été refusée. Une source connaissant cette affaire explique : “Ils sont extrêmement stricts, limite obtus. Ils autorisent la cible stricto sensu en appliquant les textes à la lettre : pour eux, c’est l’individu qui peut être écouté, pas le clan. Alors qu’on est en guerre !” Pourtant, les exégètes avaient remarqué que, dans ses rapports d’activité, la CNCIS avait fait évoluer ses textes.

    En évoquant ces dernières années des “cibles” et non plus des “lignes” téléphoniques, elle indiquait implicitement que, justement, une écoute pouvait concerner tous les téléphones d’une personne, ses ordinateurs, le tout pouvant être étendu à son entourage. Sauf que ça, c’était avant que le précédent président de la CNCIS Hervé Pelletier, désigné par Nicolas Sarkozy et “démissionnaire”, ne soit remplacé en juin 2014 par Jean-Marie Delarue. Le décret signé du président de la République François Hollande nomme Jean-Marie Delarue pour six ans, jusqu’en juin 2020.

    “Des gars madrés”

    Fils d’Émile Pelletier, ancien ministre de l’Intérieur du général de Gaulle, Hervé Pelletier fut président de la chambre criminelle de la Cour de cassation. À la CNCIS, il fut un interlocuteur comme les apprécient les services de renseignements, n’aimant rien tant que les “gars madrés, qui connaissent la vie”. Jean-Marie Delarue, conseiller d’État honoraire et ancien contrôleur général des lieux de privation de liberté, est quant à lui un “vrai juriste, engagé dans un rapport de force avec le gouvernement”.

    Cet expert connaissant l’affaire estime que Jean-Marie Delarue “veut poser la question de la place de la CNCIS et transformer cette autorité administrative qui fournit des avis consultatifs au gouvernement en véritable organisme de contrôle des interceptions techniques”. Combat de titans pour le contrôle des services…

    Guerre souterraine

    Dans la technostructure du renseignement français, on évoque une guerre souterraine, très secrète et qui aurait dû le rester, qui opposerait actuellement deux tendances lourdes : d’une part, celle des services qui souhaitent qu’au nom du “pragmatisme” on leur lâche un peu la bride en ces temps troublés ; d’autre part, celle de juristes représentés par le président de la commission des Lois de l’Assemblée et président de la délégation parlementaire au renseignement, le député socialiste Jean-Jacques Urvoas, membre de la CNCIS, en phase avec Jean-Marie Delarue.

    Les récriminations des premiers sont fortes à l’égard des seconds. À tel point que les services estiment qu’ils font l’objet de la part de la CNCIS de mesures de pure “rétorsion”. Alors que la pratique du contrôle des écoutes consistait auparavant en un contrôle de conformité a posteriori, elle est passée progressivement à un contrôle a priori. Concrètement, la CNCIS remet son avis avant que l’interception ne soit mise en place. Et, à tout le moins jusqu’à l’attentat contre Charlie Hebdo, ses avis positifs ou négatifs ont toujours été suivis à la lettre par Matignon. Qui n’y a pourtant jamais été tenu…

    Des écoutes jamais commencées

    Ce point est d’ailleurs rappelé dans un communiqué très inhabituel diffusé le 12 janvier, lendemain de l’intervention de Bernard Squarcini, par la CNCIS. Signé par les trois membres de la commission, à savoir le sénateur UMP François-Noël Buffet, le député PS Jean-Jacques Urvoas et le président Delarue, ce texte, ciselé au millimètre, dément les accusations de Squarcini, mais de façon curieuse. Il souligne que les accusations porteraient sur le fait que des écoutes sur les auteurs des attentats “avaient cessé”, alors même que les services jurent qu’elles n’ont jamais pu avoir lieu. “À aucun moment, la CNCIS n’a manifesté d’opposition dans ces affaires sur des demandes présentées”, affirme-t-elle dans le communiqué.

    Des sources bien informées ne citent d’ailleurs pas seulement des affaires de terrorisme, mais aussi d’autres, également récentes et tout aussi étonnantes. La CNCIS s’est repliée aux abris en précisant dans son texte qu’elle n’évoquera ces affaires qu’avec “des autorités publiques, quelles qu’elles soient, dès lors qu’elles sont habilitées au secret de la défense nationale”. Ce qui exclut la presse ! Circulez, y a rien à voir !

    Le Point – Publié le 14/01/2015 à 09:29 – Modifié le 14/01/2015 à 11:20

    Find this story at 14 January 2015

    © Le Point.fr

    Cocaine, rape and leaks: Scandal hits ‘French FBI’

    Paris’s powerful criminal investigation force, France’s answer to the FBI, is once again embroiled in scandal. After the missing cocaine and the alleged rape of a tourist, the force’s chief has been deposed after being charged with leaking secret info.

    Paris’s powerful criminal investigation unit, known as the Police judiciare, is mired in scandal once again.

    In less than a year the force, which is often just referred to as “36 Quai des Orfèvres” – the name of its famous HQ on the banks of the Seine – has been hit by three major scandals – the latest one has even claimed the head of the unit’s chief.

    “I thought we’d hit rock bottom, but I was wrong, we’re still digging,” a veteran of the unit, considered “a state within a state” told L’Express newspaper.

    Here’s a rundown of the three scandals that has seen the reputation of France’s version of the FBI dismantled in a little over eight months.

    The LEAKS:

    This latest scandal is easily the most serious to hit the unit as it resulted in the Bernard Petit, the force’s chief being suspended after he was charged over allegations he leaked details of a probe to a fellow top officer under investigation.

    On Thursday, just minutes after the Paris prosecutor’s office said it was charging Petit, the French interior ministry announced his suspension.

    The charges against Petit are unprecedented for the force.

    Petit is accused of feeding information to Christian Prouteau, the former chief of the GIGN elite police unit, before he was taken into custody in October over a case relating to fraudulent documentation being given to illegal migrants.

    Petit was charged with “violating the secrecy of an inquiry and disclosing information in order to impede efforts to investigate and determine the truth”, Paris prosecutors said in a statement.

    His chief of staff, Richard Atlan, was charged with the same offence.

    Philippe Lemaitre, an official at the National Welfare Association representing police staff, is suspected as having acted as an intermediary for Petit and Prouteau and has been charged with complicity in influence peddling as well as complicity in violating the secrecy of an investigation.

    (Bernard Petit, from the Judicial Police. Photo: François Guillot/AFP)


    In August last year the force was left red-faced to say the least when it emerged they had lost 52 kilos of confiscated cocaine, worth a cool €2.5 million.

    The haul had last been seen on July 23rd but then vanished.

    The cocaine was stored in a secure room at the police headquarters but there was no close circuit television in the area. A source close to the investigation said only three people had keys to the room.

    At the time many of those working there said they were astounded at the disappearance and said they did not believe it was pilfered.

    “It will be a thunderbolt if theft is proved,” said one police source.

    Days later a Paris drug squad officer was charged and remanded in custody.

    Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve described the allegations as “extremely serious” and said the officer had been temporarily suspended.

    (A policeman suspected of stealing 52kg of cocaine boards a plane in France. AFP)


    This incident in April last year caused outrage in Canada and made headlines around the world.

    Four police officers from 36 Quai des Orfèvres were placed under investigation after a Canadian tourist reported at least one of the men took her back to police headquarters in the capital’s centre after a night of drinking in a nearby Irish pub and raped her.

    The woman, originally from Toronto and reportedly the daughter of a police chief, was in Paris for a two-week holiday when she says she ran into some officers at The Galway pub

    She reportedly agreed to go to the headquarters, but what happened next is at the heart of the allegations. She says the officers, who include a captain belonging to an elite anti-gang unit, sexually assaulted her in an office on the premises.

    A source close to the investigation said the woman’s spectacles and stockings disappeared after she filed the complaint.

    One officer admitted having sex with the tourist but insisted it was consensual. Days later two elite French police officers were charged with rape.

    Once again the interior minister was forced to step in saying the men “would face the full consequences” if found guilty.

    The Local/AFP | 6 Feb 2015, 11:14

    Find this story at 6 February 2015

    Copyright The Local Europe AB

    Gaps in France’s Surveillance Are Clear; Solutions Aren’t

    PARIS — Last June, Patrick Calvar, the head of France’s domestic intelligence service, faced a decision: continue surveillance on a French Islamist who had been viewed as a potential threat for a decade, or shift limited resources to help monitor a swelling new generation of fighters returning from Syria.

    The surveillance on the Islamist, Saïd Kouachi, had turned up nothing for over two years, and monitoring of his younger brother, Chérif Kouachi, had been abandoned the previous year, French officials say. Earlier in 2014, the intelligence service had transferred Saïd Kouachi’s case for several months to the Paris police, a sign that it was no longer considered a priority.

    Continue reading the main story

    The Paris newsroom of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, after two brothers walked in with military precision and killed 12 people in the name of Allah.Chérif and Saïd Kouachi’s Path to Paris Attack at Charlie HebdoJAN. 17, 2015 Continue reading the main story

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    The three-member commission scrutinizing requests for cellphone monitoring by the intelligence agency had signaled that its recommendation would be against further surveillance. And the prime minister, Manuel Valls, was under intense pressure to focus on what seemed to be the more immediate threat emanating from Syria; the previous month, Mehdi Nemmouche, a 29-year-old Frenchman who had fought in Syria, had gunned down four people at a Jewish museum in Brussels.


    From left: Mohammed Merah, who shot seven in Toulouse; Mehdi Nemmouche, a Frenchman who killed four in Brussels Credit From left: France 2, via Associated Press; Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
    The counterterrorism team reporting to Mr. Calvar, a longtime intelligence official, allowed the surveillance order on Saïd Kouachi to expire. Less than seven months later, the Kouachi brothers burst through the doors at the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and fatally shot 12 people, setting off a two-day manhunt that involved a third gunman and ended with another five victims and the deaths of all three gunmen.

    The decision to drop surveillance of the Kouachis was one in a series of developments that, in the aftermath of the deadliest acts of terrorism in France since Algeria’s struggle for independence in the 1960s, suggests substantial failures or weaknesses in French intelligence and law enforcement.

    It also highlights security challenges facing other Western governments, as Denmark was reminded this weekend when a native-born Muslim gunman in Copenhagen killed two people in an attack that had numerous similarities to the rampage in and around Paris last month.

    Largely caught off guard by the proliferation of potential threats, they now confront wrenching trade-offs in deciding how and whether to monitor hundreds or thousands of their citizens who are traveling in and out of conflict zones, otherwise making contact with radicals or being inspired by assaults like the one on Charlie Hebdo.

    The French government is still in the early stages of reviewing what went wrong in the case of the Kouachis and the third gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, who also fell off the radar of the French authorities after being released from prison last spring.

    Current and former officials say the surveillance on the Kouachis had turned up nothing to indicate that they were an imminent threat. They point to the lack of resources to conduct physical surveillance on large numbers of targets, estimating that 25 agents, working in shifts, are required to watch over a single person day and night.


    From left: Salim Oman Benghalem, who traveled to Yemen; Peter Cherif, who also traveled there. Credit From left: LeMonde; Benoit Peyrucq/Agence France-Presse
    “You can’t follow everyone,” said Bernard Squarcini, who was Mr. Calvar’s predecessor as head of the domestic intelligence agency and was in charge when the Kouachis were placed under surveillance after a tipoff from the United States in 2011. “These were two inactive targets that had been quiet for a long time. They were giving nothing away.”

    Others were less forgiving. “Even if you give France a bit of a break,” said one former senior United States counterterrorism official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid antagonizing an ally, “given what we know, and what the French knew then, these guys should have been high on any list. Especially since they seemed to have all the warning signs: travel to the region, a prison record, a social media profile. What more did they need?”

    At the very least, the Charlie Hebdo attack has provoked a fundamental debate about the quality of intelligence gathering in France. Long considered among the best in the world, French intelligence has been troubled by three high-profile failures in four years: Before the Kouachis and the Nemmouche case, there was Mohammed Merah, a French-Algerian whose surveillance had been dropped shortly before he shot seven people in Toulouse in March 2012.

    At a time when budget cuts and debates over the balance between national security and personal liberty are making the trade-offs for security forces even more complex, the case of the Kouachis stands out. They were well known to the authorities in the United States as well as France before the radical group known as the Islamic State came on the scene — and they struck just when the authorities had turned their attention to the threat posed by the new generation of jihadists inspired by the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

    Interviews with current and former French and American officials and other experts provided new details about key moments and the lapses, misunderstandings and turf issues that characterized the case.

    The intelligence agencies in France, the United States and elsewhere proved limited in their ability to track potential radicals in countries where they went to fight, train or meet other Islamists.

    Continue reading the main story

    Graphic: The Links Among the Paris Terror Suspects and Their Connections to Jihad
    Although Yemeni officials had tracked a Frenchman they believed to be Saïd Kouachi on a visit to Yemen in 2011 and eventually informed the United States, who passed word along to the French authorities, it was only after the Charlie Hebdo shootings that it became clear that it was actually Chérif Kouachi who had been to Yemen, traveling on his brother’s passport. And the authorities only learned after the shootings, when Chérif spoke by phone to a television station shortly before he was killed in a shootout, that he had met there with the radical American-born preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, a senior Qaeda commander promoting jihad against the West.

    As intelligence cooperation has largely dried up in Syria, and has been imperiled in Yemen by the factional fighting there, the challenge of tracking suspects has become even harder.

    The intelligence agencies also failed to appreciate how fully radicalized Chérif Kouachi had become, in particular by missing or not recognizing the importance of his association with two other French fighters who were in Yemen in 2011.

    As early as 2011, American and French officials had identified at least one other hardened French jihadist traveling in Yemen at the same time as Mr. Kouachi: Peter Cherif, known for his links to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Qaeda leader in Iraq, and for the time he spent in Abu Ghraib prison before returning to France. Mr. Cherif — who, like Chérif Kouachi, had links to the so-called Buttes-Chaumont group of radicalized young French Muslims in northeastern Paris after the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 — is believed to be in Yemen today.

    A second Frenchman in Yemen in 2011, Salim Oman Benghalem, who also had ties to members of the Buttes-Chaumont group, was added to at least one United States counterterrorism list last summer, a few weeks after the French government ended surveillance on Saïd Kouachi. Mr. Benghalem is believed by the United States to be fighting in Syria with the Islamic State.

    In addition, the authorities failed to update their surveillance methods as their targets grew more sophisticated, raising questions about whether governments have put too much faith in electronic eavesdropping.


    From left: Saîd and Chérif Kouachi, Charlie Hebdo assailants. Credit From left: French Police via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images; Getty Images
    The electronic surveillance employed in France was limited largely to listening in on cellphone conversations. But Chérif Kouachi, who had previously been arrested based on intercepted phone conversations, was almost certainly aware of the likelihood that his phone was being monitored, reducing if not eliminating the possibility that he would have discussed planning for an attack on it. The agencies handling the cases of the Kouachis had few other legal options for surveillance.

    “The phone tapping yielded nothing,” Marc Trévidic, the chief terrorism investigator for the French judicial system, said in an interview. “If we had continued, I’m convinced it wouldn’t have changed anything. No one talks on the phone anymore.”

    Finally, France’s counterterrorism efforts are spread among a variety of agencies operating under different authorities that do not always appear to cooperate and coordinate. At least 13 bodies have some intelligence-gathering responsibility — including the main domestic intelligence agency, known by its French abbreviation, D.G.S.I., and its better-resourced foreign counterpart, the D.G.S.E., but also smaller units attached to the Paris police, the national police, the paramilitary gendarmerie, the judicial police and even the customs office.

    The Kouachi case was handled primarily by the predecessor of the D.G.S.I., which was only created last May and whose internal reorganization and staff expansion is expected to take five years. A year ago, the agency, then known as the D.C.R.I. and still an adjunct to the national police instead of directly reporting to the interior minister, handed the Saïd Kouachi case over to the intelligence arm of the Paris police. But when the police realized that Saïd had moved to Reims, 90 miles northeast of Paris, his file was returned to the newly created D.G.S.I., which subsequently failed to put its Reims station in charge of the case.

    Since the Charlie Hebdo shootings, there have been questions about whether the case might have been better handled by the prosecutorial system that falls under the judiciary, an entirely separate bureaucracy that has broader powers than the intelligence agencies to monitor terrorism suspects.

    “Ideally, this should have become a judicial affair,” Mr. Trévidic said. “We can bug homes and track cars and confiscate computers. When we’re worried about someone, we get a warrant and go into their flat. We take what we need and analyze their computers, which is something the intelligence services can’t do.”

    Continue reading the main story

    The Men Behind the Cartoons at Charlie Hebdo
    The Men Behind the Cartoons at Charlie HebdoJAN. 08, 2015

    France’s Ideals, Forged in Revolution, Face a Modern Test
    France’s Ideals, Forged in Revolution, Face a Modern Test FEB. 03, 2015
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    Proud to Offend, Charlie Hebdo Carries Torch of Political ProvocationJAN. 08, 2015

    Mayor of Paris Grows Into Her New Role as Comforter in Chief
    Mayor of Paris Grows Into Her New Role as Comforter in ChiefFEB. 08, 2015
    The surveillance on Saïd Kouachi did alert the security services to an apparent counterfeiting operation he was involved in, selling fake brand clothes and sports shoes. This followed an episode two years ago, when he was fined for importing fake Nike shoes by postal delivery from China.

    A few months before the Charlie Hebdo shootings in January, the intelligence unit of the customs police filed a report to the domestic intelligence service, requesting its support, according to a senior official with knowledge of the case. “But they don’t seem to have done anything with that information,” the official said, a lapse that some experts cited in questions about whether the counterfeiting operation might have been used to raise money to buy weapons for the attack.

    Mr. Calvar did not respond to questions about the decision not to extend surveillance on the Kouachis. Jean-Marie Delarue, president of the three-member National Commission for the Control of Security Interceptions, which scrutinizes all demands for phone taps, said in an interview that Mr. Calvar and his deputy, Thierry Matta, were the only ones at the D.G.S.I. authorized to sign such requests.

    The Kouachi brothers had been known to the authorities since 2004, when Syrian and American officials separately alerted their French counterparts to a Paris-based cell channeling French-born fighters through Syria to Iraq. A year later, Chérif Kouachi was arrested as he prepared to leave on a one-way ticket to become a suicide bomber in Iraq.

    He spent 20 months in prison, where he met his future associate, Mr. Coulibaly, and mixed with convicted militants like Djamel Beghal, a jihadist who trained in one of Osama bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan and was dispatched to France by the No. 3 of Al Qaeda, French prosecutors say, to set up a cell dedicated to targeting American interests.

    For years, the Kouachi brothers drifted in and out of different forms of surveillance and, in Chérif’s case, detention. But in November 2011, when American officials informed their French counterparts that Saïd Kouachi had flown to Oman and traveled in Yemen “for a couple of months” that summer, the alert level rose. (One senior European intelligence official said the trip lasted from July 25 to Aug. 10.)


    “You can’t follow everyone,” said Bernard Squarcini, left, the domestic intelligence chief when the Kouachis were put under surveillance. They slipped down the priority list under his successor. Patrick Calvar, right. Credit From left: Martin Bureau/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images; Silvere Gerard/Reservoir Photo
    The information the Americans passed along had come from Yemeni intelligence and law enforcement agencies, which suspected that Mr. Kouachi had met with local Qaeda handlers, according to two senior American officials briefed on confidential reports, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation.

    It was possible, the Yemenis told the Americans, that Mr. Kouachi had received training. The information was enough for Washington to place the older Kouachi on a no-fly list and other counterterrorism lists around November 2011. The French were informed and placed both Kouachis under surveillance, Mr. Squarcini said.

    At the time, neither American nor Yemeni officials knew that it was actually Chérif Kouachi who had been in Yemen, traveling on his older brother’s passport because he remained under judicial supervision and was not allowed to leave France.

    The officials also did not know that in Yemen, Chérif had been in contact with Mr. Awlaki, who that September became the first American citizen to be killed by a drone.

    But early on, the French authorities were aware that Peter Cherif was in Yemen at the same time as Mr. Kouachi. Anyone like Mr. Cherif with past links to Mr. Zarqawi, even indirectly, was considered a serious concern, said Louis Caprioli, the deputy head of France’s domestic antiterrorism unit from 1998 to 2004.

    In early 2012, after United States counterterrorism officials had done more analysis on Saïd Kouachi and discovered Chérif’s record in France, Chérif was added to the same American no-fly and counterterrorism lists. Again, the French were informed.

    But both Kouachis gradually slipped down the priority list as the authorities scrambled to deal with the largely unforeseen effects of the civil war in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State. The number of French fighters returning from Syria was climbing rapidly: Some 1,400 people in France are believed to have either joined the jihadist cause in Syria and Iraq or sought to do so.

    By law, the domestic surveillance powers of French intelligence agencies are limited. Wiretaps are still governed by rules drafted in 1991, long before cellphones and the Internet became ubiquitous. French intelligence agencies cannot legally track cars or bug apartments in their own country. Since 2006, they have had some access to the metadata of electronic communications, but they cannot spy on the content of emails.

    But all along, there had been an alternative means of tracking the Kouachis. The judicial system has long been active in counterterrorism and has considerable flexibility to open investigations into anyone suspected of potentially carrying out a terrorist act.

    Mr. Trévidic, the chief terrorism investigator in the judicial system, said if the domestic intelligence agency had wanted to turn the case of the Kouachis over to him, it probably could have. Since the Merah case in 2012, twice as many terrorism cases have been transferred from the intelligence services to become judicial investigations, he said.

    “The tools are there,” said François Heisbourg, a former defense official and counterterrorism expert. “But the authorities did not bring all their tools to bear on people who had exactly the profile they said they were worried about.”

    Katrin Bennhold reported from Paris, and Eric Schmitt from Washington. Aurelien Breeden and Laure Fourquet contributed reporting from Paris.


    Find this story at 17 February 2015

    © 2015 The New York Times Company

    Videos show Paris gunmen were calm as they executed police officer, fled scene

    IRBIL, IRAQ — The gunmen who attacked the Paris editorial offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday appeared to be focused professionals who’d carefully prepared the assault.

    Video showing two of the assailants suggests they were well trained, striking their target during its weekly editorial meeting, when most of the publication’s journalists would be gathered in one place.

    Other evidence suggests they could be linked to a top French al Qaida operative, David Drugeon, who’s been the target at least twice of U.S. airstrikes in Syria over the last four months.

    Witnesses inside the magazine’s offices told the French newspaper L’Humanité that both attackers spoke perfect French and claimed to be members of al Qaida.

    Drugeon, who many experts believe was a French intelligence asset before defecting to al Qaida, is alleged to have masterminded a 2012 “lone wolf” attack on French soldiers and Jewish targets in the southern French city of Toulouse. That attack killed seven people before the perpetrator, a French citizen named Mohammed Merah, who French intelligence believes had been trained by Drugeon, was killed by a police sniper after a long, violent standoff with security forces.

    Wednesday’s attack killed at least 10 journalists and two policemen, who’d apparently been assigned to guard the magazine because of previous threats made against the publication, including a firebombing in 2011.

    The gunmen escaped and were still at large hours after the attack. French authorities said they were seeking three people in the attack.

    Witnesses speaking to French television reporters described the attackers as calmly entering the editorial offices of the magazine during its weekly editorial meeting, shooting the victims before declaring “Allahu Akbar” and “We have avenged the prophet,” before quickly and calmly departing the scene before police could respond.

    In three videos of the aftermath posted on the Internet by witnesses, two masked gunmen can be seen exiting the building with military efficiency, making coordinated and precise movements indicative of extensive experience and training. Commonly referred to by military professionals as “muscle memory,” the movements reflect the kind of repetitive training that allows someone to efficiently execute tactical movements and maintain fire discipline and accurate marksmanship under the stress of combat.

    In one series of photographs, a French police vehicle can be seen with its windshield riddled with bullets in a fairly tight cluster, a pattern that would be nearly impossible for a casually trained beginner to produce with the assault rifles the gunmen were carrying. Though simple to use, the rifles, a variant of the Russian AK-47, tend to be difficult to control when fired on full automatic. But the impact pattern on the police vehicle indicates not just a familiarity with the weapon, but at least a competent degree of marksmanship.

    Another video underscores the likelihood that the two were experienced fighters. In it, two gunmen exit the building to board a waiting hatchback sedan when they notice a policeman down the block attempting to engage them as they escape. Without hesitation, the two gunmen shoot the officer, then calmly close on the wounded man as he lies in the street before one of the shooters fires a round into his head from pointblank range.

    Again, the calm manner in which the wounded man is murdered before the pair return to the car suggests combat experience or at least extensive training. Both men move quickly but in a very controlled manner. At one point, the lead gunman appears to use a common infantry hand signal to summon his accomplice to his side.

    The pair then drive away from the scene, but not before one of the gunmen picks up an object – possibly a shoe – that had fallen from the car as the door opened.

    Prothero is a McClatchy special correspondent based in Irbil, Iraq. Email: mprothero@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @mitchprothero

    McClatchy Foreign StaffJanuary 7, 2015

    Find this story at 7 January 2015

    Copyright mcclatchydc.com

    Trafic d’armes : la police judiciaire va-t-elle remonter de l’ultra-droite jusqu’à Coulibaly ?

    La garde à vue de Claude Hermant, figure de l’ultra-droite régionale, s’est poursuivie ce jeudi. Selon différentes sources, les enquêteurs s’intéressent à un éventuel lien entre le trafic d’armes présumé et les attentats commis en région parisienne. Pour le moment, rien n’est confirmé officiellement.

    L’affaire de trafic d’armes dans laquelle Claude Hermant est en garde à vue depuis mardi a-t-elle une ampleur supplémentaire ? Selon plusieurs sources concordantes, les enquêteurs de la PJ de Lille vérifient si des armes utilisées lors des attentats sanglants en région parisienne peuvent provenir de la filière présumée de cette figure de la mouvance identitaire. Ces éléments sont pour l’instant à prendre avec prudence. Interrogés, le parquet de Lille, celui de Paris, tout comme la PJ et l’avocat de Claude Hermant se refusent au moindre commentaire. Ni confirmation, ni démenti. Un black-out total, de part et d’autre de la frontière, rare et troublant.
    Si rien n’est donc encore avéré, un proche du dossier concède que des « rebonds » ne sont pas à exclure dans les investigations, dirigées par un juge d’instruction lillois depuis décembre.
    Des armes saisies
    Ce qui est sûr, c’est que Claude Hermant et sa compagne sont en garde à vue pour trafic d’armes en bande organisée. Leurs auditions peuvent durer 96heures. Des armes ont été saisies. Mais on ignore leur nature et là où elles ont été trouvées. Plusieurs lieux ont été perquisitionnés. À commencer par la Frite Rit, à Lille, où tous deux travaillent.
    Le terrain de paintball, rue de la Vallée à Ennetières-en-Weppes, géré notamment par Claude Hermant, a été perquisitionné mercredi, aux alentours de 10 h. « Il y avait une dizaine de policiers », indique une voisine. Y ont-ils trouvé des armes ? La question reste en suspens. Quant aux propriétaires du terrain, les riverains décrivent « des gens discrets, qui gèrent tout par Internet ». Et le maire avoue ne pas les connaître. Le son de cloche est identique à Comines (B) où la police belge avait déployé les grands moyens, mardi soir. Selon le parquet de Tournai, aucune arme ni explosif n’ont été découverts. Mais des éléments « intéressants pour l’enquête » ont été saisis.
    Depuis l’Europe de l’Est
    Selon nos informations, la PJ lilloise travaille sur un trafic d’armes remilitarisées en provenance d’Europe de l’Est, notamment de la République tchèque. « Nous sommes dans le cadre d’un trafic d’armes, explique une source judiciaire. Pas dans la sphère terroriste. Rien n’indique que les têtes d’un tel réseau s’intéressent à la destination finale de ces armes, marchandises comme une autre. »
    Si cette piste est avérée, elle ne serait cependant pas une surprise. Depuis les attentats, policiers belges et français sont persuadés que certaines armes proviennent d’outre-Quiévrain. Ils s’intéressent à celles utilisées par Amédy Coulibaly, notamment un Skorpio tchèque. Le Français aurait d’ailleurs cherché à s’approvisionner auprès d’un fournisseur belge. Aux enquêteurs de déterminer si le clan Hermant est l’un des maillons, même indirect, de la chaîne.

    PUBLIÉ LE 23/01/2015 – MIS À JOUR LE 23/01/2015 À 18:05

    Find this story at 23 January 2015

    Copyright lavoixdunord.fr

    What weapons were used in the Paris terror attacks?

    The details of what we do, and do not know, about the weapons used in the recent terrorist attacks in Paris are still far from determined.

    We do know that Amedy Coulibaly and the brothers Said and Chérif Kouachi had between them three assault rifles, Soviet-made pistols and a Skorpion submachine gun. It has also been reported that a Tokarev semi-automatic pistol was used by Amedy Coulibaly in his attack on a kosher supermarket. The same weapon was used to shoot and injure a jogger two days earlier on January 7th.

    Many media outlets have said that the Kouachi brothers used the AKS-74 Kalashnikov, a weapon produced only by Bulgaria and Romania since 1989. Recent seizures of illicit AKS-74s, both fully functioning and parts thereof, have been reported in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, India and Ukraine.

    Yves Cresson, a journalist who works in the same building as Charlie Hebdo, tweeted: ‘We have just found a cartridge in our offices.’However, the Telegraph claims that the bullets found at the Charlie Hebdo office were 7.62 x 39 mm and purchased in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Telegraph quotes Zivko Marjanac, Bosnia’s deputy defence minister, as confirming the fact that ‘the ammunition used by the terrorists was manufactured in 1986 by Igman Company, a state-owned factory in the town of Konjic south of Sarajevo.’ Mr Marjanac was reported to emphasise the fact that ‘the bullets were manufactured 30 years ago’, and so it would be impossible to explain how they reached France.

    The provenance of the bullets might be accurate. However the claimed caliber of the bullets is a curious one, as AKS-74s take the 5.45mm round, not the 7.62mm.

    In which case, it might be suspected, as initially claimed by some reports, that the weapons used in the Charlie Hebron attack were actually AK103s – a rifle manufactured in Russia by Izhmash.

    The AK103 is not a common weapon. It is used by forces in Pakistan, India and Venezuela – but reportedly mainly by their special forces units. Hugo Chavez was photographed posing with one in 2006.

    The AK103 has also been seen across North Africa, notably in Libya and Yemen, possibly coming there via post-Soviet trafficking routes. The AK103 has even been sold openly online on Yemeni Facebook Arms markets.

    Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 14.04.36This Yemeni observation might be insignificant, but Cedric Le Bechec, a witness who encountered the escaping gunmen, quoted Said and Chérif Kouachi as saying: ‘You can tell the media that it’s al-Qaeda in Yemen.’
    What is interesting is that the AK103 is not a commonly found assault rifle, even less so in the illegal market. Few media reports cite incidents where it has been seized in illicit transfers.

    As for the weapons origins, it has been reported that a Belgian arms dealer sold the Kouachi brothers and Amedy Coulibaly their arms – but what precise weapons he sold has not been confirmed.

    This could mean that he did, indeed, sell the terrorists AK103s. Or, far worse, that he sold them other AK rifles and that there is still a cache of arms somewhere in France, waiting to be used.

    By Iain Overton on 20 Jan 2015

    Find this story at 20 January 2015

    © Copyright AOAV 2004-2015

    Terrorisme in dienst van de grootmachten (1995, 2005, 2015) 2005

    De aanslagen in Londen in juli 2005 versterkten in Europa de vrees dat er meer bommen zouden volgen. De oplopende conflicten tussen aan de ene kant de Europese staten onderling en met de VS aan de andere kant, de steeds ingewikkelder situatie in Afghanistan, Syrië, Libanon en Irak en de meedogenloze concurrentie om de greep op de oliereserves, maken nieuwe aanslagen waarschijnlijk. In Europa en de VS wordt de grote aanscherping van de veiligheidspolitiek, het uithollen van burgerrechten, het uitkleden van rechten van immigranten en asielzoekers sinds 2001 gelegitimeerd met een beroep op terrorismebestrijding.

    In Frankrijk bijvoorbeeld werd de alarmfase rood afgekondigd en er wordt voortdurend gewezen op het gevaar van een bloedbad. De potentiële aanstichter is al aangewezen. Het is de Algerijnse GSPC (Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat), een afsplitsing van de beruchte GIA (Groupes islamiques armés), die verantwoordelijk wordt gehouden voor talloze massamoorden in Algerije in de jaren negentig. In Frankrijk zou ze sinds 1995 diverse bomaanslagen uitgevoerd hebben, die negen doden en 200 gewonden veroorzaakten. Journalisten, experts en politici voeren deze pijnlijke herinnering telkens weer op om op het huidige gevaar te wijzen. Ondanks de beklemmende verwachting van nieuwe bomaanslagen is het noodzakelijk om het hoofd koel te houden en de vraag te stellen waarop de officiële aankondigingen gebaseerd zijn en hoe steekhoudend de aangevoerde aanwijzingen met betrekking tot de mogelijke veroorzakers zijn. Vooral bij Algerijnse terreurgroepen zijn er aanwijzingen voor betrokkenheid van de Algerijnse Inlichtingendienst (DRS) en de Franse binnenlandse veiligheidsdienst bij diverse operaties van de GIA in zowel Algerije als Frankrijk

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    In december 1991 won het FIS, Front Islamique du Salut, de parlementsverkiezingen in Algerije. In juni dat jaar wonnen zij ook al de gemeenteraadsverkiezingen. Het NRC handelsblad kopte op 28 december 1991 “Op nauwelijks een uur vliegen van Europa ontstaat een ‘Iran’”. De toon was al gezet, omdat sinds de oprichting van de FIS in 1988 er gespeculeerd werd over de vorming van een islamitische staat. Sommige woordvoerders van het FIS voegden daar ook harde woorden aan het adres van niet-moslims toe. Dat sommige leden van het FIS druk uitoefenden op andere Algerijnen om mee te doen zal zeker hebben plaatsgevonden, maar dit kan niet de massale steun voor het FIS tijdens de twee verkiezingen in 1991 verklaren. Of de partij zich helemaal zou gaan afsluiten van de Westerse wereld en of er een islamitische staat zou zijn ontstaan is niet meer te zeggen. In januari 1992 volgde een militaire staatsgreep en de arrestatie en verdwijning van tienduizenden vermoedelijk FIS aanhangers. De staatsgreep werd door Frankrijk gesteund. In de jaren die volgden ontwikkelde zich een burgeroorlog tussen het gewapende verzet van de ondergrondse beweging van de FIS, de GIA (Groupes islamiques armés) en later de GSPC (Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat) en het leger. Het verzet kon op brede steun van de bevolking rekenen in het begin, maar gaandeweg leek de GIA zich te verliezen in ongerichte moordpartijen. Veel van die slachtingen werden toegeschreven aan de gewelddadige islamitische strijders, maar een uitgebreid onderzoek heeft er tot op heden niet plaatsgevonden naar de slachtingen.
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    De machtsgreep van de Algerijnse generaals in januari 1992, waarmee de verkiezingszege van het FIS (Front Islamique du Salut) verhinderd werd, werd door de politieke klasse in Frankrijk in het algemeen begroet. Maar de daaropvolgende golf van repressie waaraan tienduizenden vermoedelijke FIS aanhangers ten slachtoffer vielen, en vooral de moord op President Diaforese voor draaiende camera’s in juni 1992 hebben duidelijk gemaakt dat de militairen voor niets terugdeinsden om aan de macht te blijven. In Frankrijk botsten twee opvattingen: de minister van Binnenlandse Zaken steunde de Algerijnse generaals zonder voorbehoud, terwijl de minister van Buitenlandse Zaken zich gereserveerder opstelde en pleitte voor een dialoog tussen alle partijen die geweld afzworen. Deze tegenspraak in de houding ten opzichte van het Algerijnse regime had zijn weerslag op de positie van de buitenlandse en binnenlandse inlichtingendiensten van Frankrijk. De DST had steeds goede relaties met haar Algerijnse collega’s gehad terwijl de Franse buitenlandse inlichtingendienst DGSE voorzichtiger was.

    Frankrijk aan de zijde van de coupplegers

    Frankrijk in het vizier van de GIA

    Zonder grondwet en legitieme instituties had het Algerijnse regime des te dringender de hulp van Frankrijk nodig om de internationale steun te herwinnen en van een bankroet gered te worden. Op een krachtige ondersteuning vanuit de VS viel niet te rekenen want die hadden van tijd tot tijd geflirt met een machtswisseling ten gunste van de moslims. De publieke opinie in de voormalige koloniale grootmacht moest echter eerst overtuigd worden van de onvermijdelijkheid van de staatsgreep om de democratie te redden. En het was belangrijk dat de FIS met de GIA vereenzelvigd werd om de grootschalige onderdrukking van de militairen te rechtvaardigen. Tussen 1994 en 1997 werden tienduizenden mensen gearresteerd, duizenden werden slachtoffer van buitenrechtelijke moorden, tussen de 10.000 en 20.000 mensen verdwenen en marteling werd systematisch toegepast. Tienduizenden kaderleden en aanhangers van de FIS vluchtten naar het buitenland en vormden in ballingschap organisaties. In Algerije gingen velen over op de gewapende strijd. Een ondergrondse organisatie die in de beginjaren op een brede steun van de bevolking kon rekenen, mocht vanuit militair oogpunt niet ook nog eens op ondersteuning in het buitenland rekenen. Daarom was het nodig het in ballingschap opererende FIS kader te criminaliseren en te vervolgen. In de herfst van 1993 werkten medewerkers van de DRS met deelname van Marchiani, een naaste medewerker van Pasqua, een operatie uit. Hocine Ougenoune, voormalig officier van de inlichtingendienst, die in de Algerijnse ambassade in Parijs werkte, rapporteert: “General Smail Lamari, Chef van de contraspionage (DCE) kwam naar Parijs om de samenwerking met de DST te bespoedigen. Hij stelde Jean-Charles Marchiani diverse scenario’s voor. Een ervan was een autobom voor de Franse ambassade in Algiers te laten exploderen. Maar Marchiani had Smain ervan overtuigd dat een gijzeling vanuit emotioneel oogpunt beter bruikbaar was en bruikbaarder was voor de media. Hij had geëist dat, om de veiligheid van de toekomstige gijzelaars te garanderen, de organisatie door de inlichtingendienst op zich zou worden genomen zonder de deelname van moslims, ook als die gemanipuleerd of streng gecontroleerd zijn”.

    In oktober 1993 werd de ontvoering van drie medewerkers van het Franse consulaat gefingeerd. Na enkele dagen werden ze, nadat Alain Juppé in het openbaar de repressieve houding van Pasqua steunde, weer vrijgelaten. De GIA eiste de verantwoordelijkheid voor deze ontvoering op in een verklaring die ze aan de krant Al Hayat toestuurde. Dit was voor Pasqua het moment om in te grijpen en hij gaf het bevel tot een groots opgezette arrestatiegolf die tot doel had de structuur van de FIS organisatie in Frankrijk af te breken. Tien jaar later bevestigt Marchiani tegenover journalisten deze feiten. Om het netwerk van islamitische activisten beter door te lichten, werden honderden Algerijnse activisten naar Frankrijk gestuurd, officieel om hun collega’s ter zijde staan, maar meestal in een dubbelfunctie omdat ze ook in dienst waren van de DCE, de Algerijnse contraspionage onder leiding van Smail Lamari.

    In Algerije had de DRS steeds mee de controle over de GIA overgenomen dan wel eigen cellen opgebouwd die onder deze naam opereerden. Een van de belangrijkste taken van de binnen gesluisde agenten bestond er uit het werkelijke verzet te bestrijden, oftewel dit door steeds gewelddadiger aanslagen in diskrediet te brengen. In Frankrijk zetten agenten van de DRS op soortgelijke wijze groepen op die de bedoeling hadden aanslagen te uit te voeren.

    Terwijl in Frankrijk een propaganda offensief woedde die in alle islamitische uitingen terroristische drijfveren toeschreef, vond er een aanslag tegen een Franse instelling in Algiers plaats. In augustus 1994 ontplofte in een nederzetting waarin Franse functionarissen leefden een autobom. Vijf Franse staatsburgers waaronder drie politieagenten kwamen om het leven. Opnieuw eiste de GIA de aanslag op. Voormalige medewerkers van de inlichtingendienst beweerden echter dat de operatie door kolonel Bachir Tartag, chef van de militaire inlichtingendienst georganiseerd werd. Ook dit keer werd er vanuit Franse zijde geen onderzoek gelast, maar Pasqua, die geen gelegenheid naliet de FIS voor de aanslag verantwoordelijk te maken, gaf opdracht tot massale identiteitscontroles die Frankrijk niet meer gekend had sinds de Algerijnse onafhankelijkheidsstrijd: 27.000 personen werden in twee weken tijd gecontroleerd. Voor de eerste keer trad Djamel Zitouni als lid van de GIA op de voorgrond en werd zodoende tot buiten de grenzen van Algerije bekend. De tot dan toe onbetekenende kippenverkoper, die met andere manen in de leiding van de GIA voor de DRS werkte, riep zich in oktober 1994 tot emir uit. Daarop volgde een golf van liquidaties in de geledingen van de GIA die diverse groepen er toe aanzetten de GIA te verlaten en haar te veroordelen. De GIA ontwikkelde zich steeds duidelijker tot een contra-insurgency-guerillagroep in handen van de DRS: terreur, ontvoeringen, bomaanslagen en massamoorden bereikten hun hoogtepunt in de jaren 1995 tot 1997, terwijl het leger tegelijkertijd de controle over opstandige gebieden terugwon.

    Ook in Frankrijk zorgde de GIA opnieuw voor angst en onrust. Kerst 1994 werd in Algiers een vliegtuig van de Air France door een commando van de GIA gekaapt. Drie personen werden gedood. Een Franse speciale eenheid bestormde de machine die inmiddels verder gevlogen was naar Marseille en alle kapers werden gedood. Deze operatie stond in directe relatie tot de belangrijke bijeenkomst van een afvaardiging van de Algerijnse oppositie in november 1994 in Rome. Deze bijeenkomst onder verantwoordelijkheid van onder andere de drie belangrijkste partijen van het land, de FLN, FFS en FIS, onder bescherming van de San Egido gemeente, wekte internationaal de belangstelling dit de eerste keer was sinds de machtsgreep van januari 1992 dat een vreedzame oplossing van het conflict in zicht kwam. De slotverklaring van 13 januari 1995 riep het Algerijnse regime op onderhandelingen ter beëindiging van de burgeroorlog te voeren. In de verklaring werd opgeroepen de strijd te beëindigen, de vrijlating geëist van de gevangengenomen leiders van de FIS en alle politieke gevangen en een terugkeer van de grondwettelijke organen en soevereiniteit van het volk. De vertegenwoordigers van de FIS verklaarden af te zien van geweld als middel om aan de macht te komen en het principe van verkiezingen om tot een machtswisseling te komen te respecteren. De Algerijnse militaire leiding en de GIA wezen het “Platform van Rome” categorisch af. In Frankrijk zagen de haviken à la Pasqua, die islamisme gelijkstelden aan totalitarisme zich in de verdediging gedrongen, vooral omdat een groot deel van de politiek verantwoordelijken dit initiatief verwelkomde. Gezien de instemming in Europa en de VS voor dit initiatief most de Algerijnse junta reageren.

    Gelijkschakeling van de posities

    Toen Jacques Chirac in mei 1995 tot president gekozen werd en Alain Juppé premier werd, vreesden de Algerijnse generaals een koersverandering in de politiek van Frankrijk. Het moment was heikel omdat de Algerijnse coupplegers er op uit waren pseudo-democratische structuren op te bouwen. De al zittende president, generaal Liamine Zeroual, kandidaat van het leger, moest nu “democratisch” gekozen worden en een gecontroleerd kiesproces voor de herinvoering van een parlement en pluralistische gemeenteverkiezingen waren aanstaand. Hocine Ougenoune meldt dat “na de benoeming van Alain Juppé in Matignon het plan van de operationele dienst van de DCE preciezer werd: aan de ene kant moesten diverse hoge verantwoordelijken van de FIS, die naar Europa gevlucht waren, geliquideerd worden en aan de andere kant moesten jonge, gedesoriënteerde moslims gemanipuleerd worden om ze op te zwepen tot aanslagen in Frankrijk. In beide gevallen moest Djamel Zitouni, de “nationale emir” van de GIA, als dekmantel voor deze organisatie de psychologische oorlogsvoering van de DRS in Europa leiden”. Naast de dreigingen die de GIA zelf tegenover Frankrijk uitte, informeerden de Algerijnse veiligheidsdiensten hun Franse collega’s over mogelijke op handen zijnde aanslagen.

    Sjeik Abdelbaki Sahraoui en een van zijn medewerkers werden op 11 juli 1995 vermoord. De 85-jarige imam van een Parijse moskee was medeoprichter van de FIS en gold als gematigd moslim die gewoonlijk als gesprekspartner voor de Franse autoriteiten en media gezien werd. Djamel Zitouni eiste de verantwoordelijkheid voor deze moord op. Nauwelijks twee weken later explodeerde de eerste bom in de Parijse metro. Zeven personen overleden, meer dan 80 personen raakten gewond. Nog vijf aanslagen volgden tot oktober 1995. Een verdachte, Khaled Kelkal, werd in het zicht van een camera door politieagenten geliquideerd; Boualem Bensaid werd op 1 november in Parijs gearresteerd. De coördinator van de serie aanslagen Ali Touchent kon echter diverse keren ontkomen. Geen wonder, want volgens kolonel Mohamed Samraoui, voormalig officier van de inlichtingendienst, was Touchent door zijn collega, de DRS-chef in Parijs, in 1993 gerekruteerd om in islamitische kringen te infiltreren. Hij werd in 1995 tot “verantwoordelijke van de GIA in Europa” bevorderd en bouwde onder andere het netwerk in Chasse-sur-Rhône – de thuisbasis van Kelkal – weer op. Abdelkader Tigha, die toentertijd in de centrale van de inlichtendienst in Blida werkte, bevestigde dat Ali Touchent hun man was. “De jonge mannen als Khaled Kelkal wisten niet dat Touchent voor ons werkte. Het was te riskant om de hele groep te manipuleren: in het geval van een arrestatie hadden ze kunnen verklaren dat het kapitein Abdelhafid Allouache van de CTRI geweest was die ons gestuurd had! Wat een schandaal…”.
    Ali Touchent kon na het beëindigen van de opdracht onopgemerkt naar Algerije vluchten hoewel hij door de Franse autoriteiten gezocht werd. Drie jaar later werd hij gedood en kon hij niet meer vervolgd worden.
    Franse politici wisten heel goed wie de opdrachtgever voor deze aanslagen was. Jean-Louis Debré, de toenmalige minister van Binnenlandse Zaken die over de doodseskaders geïnformeerd was, vermoedde echter niet dat zijn landgenoten ook getroffen konden worden. Hij besloot de mensen achter de bomaanslagen duidelijk te maken dat ze in het gebruik van de GIA een stap te ver gegaan waren. Hij nodigde midden september 1995 journalisten uit en uitte zijn vermoedens over mogelijke manipulatie van het terrorisme door de Algerijnse diensten. De volgende dag was deze informatie hoofdnieuws van Le Monde. Een voormalige adviseur van Charles Pasqua zei zeer duidelijk tegen journalisten dat de aanslagen in Parijs een door de DRS georganiseerde en gefinancierde operatie voor psychologische oorlogsvoering was.

    Daarmee hadden de Algerijnse generaals bereikt wat ze wilden: Franse politieke klasse en de publieke opinie schaarden zich zonder voorbehoud aan de kant van de coupplegers. De Franse positie werd overgenomen door de Europese partners. De oorlog in Algerije kon ongemoeid in naam van de GIA voortgezet worden. In verband met de onvoorstelbare terreur die dagelijks in het land woedde, konden de IMF verplichtingen en de gewelddadige sluiting van honderden bedrijven zonder protesten uitgevoerd worden. Erger nog, honderdduizenden mensen werden door de veiligheidsdiensten ingezette GIA uit hun dorpen verdreven, om de gewapende of ongewapende opstand zijn steun te ontnemen en bevolkten de sloppenwijken aan de rand van de steden.

    Binnen enkele jaren sloeg de stemming door terreur en deportatie om. Tienduizenden mannen lieten zich in milities opnemen om aan de zijde van het leger een smerige oorlog te voeren. Vanaf 1996 begonnen de grote massamoorden die tot 1998 duizenden slachtoffers eisten.

    Een bijzonder afschuwelijke daad bleef velen in Europa in herinnering: de ontvoering van en moord op de zeven monniken van Tibhirin in maart en mei 1996. Ook hier speelde de DRS – antenne in Blida (en de Franse geheime diensten) een sleutelrol. Toen de internationale verontwaardiging in 1997 vanwege de massamoorden in de roep voor een onafhankelijke onderzoekscommissie leidde, hielpen de Franse politici en intellectuelen om deze te doen verstommen. Tot op de dag van vandaag blijven de meeste moorden en massaslachtingen onopgelost. Toen tenslotte de GIA overbodig werd, verdween ze geleidelijk. Ondertussen is echter welk een nieuwe organisatie opgericht, de GSPC, die echter pas jaren later internationale aandacht kreeg en waarvan wij nog veel zullen horen.

    Verhevigde concurrentie tussen de VS en Frankrijk

    Al tijdens de grote slachtpartijen van 1007 waren er berichten van groeiende concurrentie tussen de VS en Frankrijk. President Generaal Liamine Zeroual en zijn adviseur Generaal Mohamed Betchine, die algemeen als ‘verzoeners’ werden geportretteerd, leken in de gunst van de Amerikanen te staan. De hardliner Generaal Larbi Belkheir, de eeuwige adviseur van de President en de leiding van de veiligheidsdiensten, kon op de ondersteuning van Frankrijk rekenen. De slachtingen waren teken van een strijd om de macht, om de controle van de Algerijnse grondstoffen en de Algerijnse markt. President Zeroual staakte zijn verzet tegen de hardliners in september 1998 en het leger installeerde Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

    Het aanzien van het Algerijnse regime werd dankzij de diplomatieke kunsten van Bouteflika, die in april 1999 als de kandidaat van het leger werd gekozen, verbetert. Bouteflika suggereerde zich van de politieke koers van de deelnemers aan de staatsgreep zou distantiëren, echter zonder de door hen gedicteerde “rode lijn” te overschrijden. Begin 2000 zorgde een aantal onthullingen over de subversieve methodes in de terrorismebestrijding en de massaslachtingen, voor een zeker gevoel van onbehagen bij de generaals. De ontwikkelingen in het internationaal recht, liet het vooruitzicht op vervolging van de folteraars en de verantwoordelijken van de “machine van de dood”, dichterbij komen. Generaal Khaled Nezzar, een van de belangrijkste deelnemers aan de staatsgreep, deed aangifte tegen een onderofficier, die het had gewaagd zijn ervaringen in een speciale eenheid van het leger openbaar te maken. Tijdens de rechtszaak echter, stond het regime terecht en Nezzar verloor. Dit maakt duidelijk dat de overwinning van de Junta van de instemming van haar machtige bondgenoten afhankelijk is. De mensenrechten kwestie kan hen altijd vertaal worden.

    11 september en de Amerikaans-Algerijnse vriendschap

    Pas met de aanslagen van 11 september veranderde er wezenlijk iets in de houding van het regime. Opeens was Algerije een “partner”, zelfs een “voorbeeld” in de internationale terrorismebestrijding van de VS. De Amerikaanse politici benadrukte keer op keer dat Washington, “wat de strijd tegen het terrorisme aangaat, van Algerije een hoop kan leren”. Deze gedienstige houding van de Supermacht, verhulde nauwelijks het groeiende streven om de hegemonie, van de traditionele invloedssfeer van Frankrijk, over te nemen. De VS hebben vooral de aardoliereserves in de regio op het oog. Om deze veilig te stellen zijn Amerikaanse militaire bases en militaire samenwerking met de legers in de regio nodig. De militaire coöperatie kreeg vanaf 2000 concrete vormen. De opperbevelhebber van het Algerijnse leger, generaal Mohamed Lamari, reisde in februari 2001 naar het Europese hoofdkwartier van de VS strijdkrachten in Stuttgard. Na de aanslagen in Washington en New York werd deze beginnende officiële samenwerking geïntensiveerd.

    In December 2002 werd het Pan-Sahel initiatief in de gehele Sahel regio gelanceerd. De ombouw begon na de ontvoering van de Europese toeristen begin 2003. Naast wapenleveranties en de training van legereenheden werden reeds enkele kleine bases in de regio opgericht. Maar de Amerikanen namen geen genoegen met een militaire aanwezigheid. Hun ambities om met het omvangrijke plan om de “Great Middle East” – regio te controleren, zijn nauwelijks verhuld. Tegenwoordig heet het plan: “Middle East Partnership Initiative” (MEPI) en men probeert om met een dicht netwerk van gouvernementele en non-gouvernementele organisaties (National Endowment for Democratie (NED), National Democratic Instiute for International Affairs (NDI), Freedom House, International Republican Institue (IRI), Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), e.d.) invloed op de politiek en maatschappij van de diverse landen uit te oefenen. De VS suggereren de politieke economische en sociale hervormingen in de regio van Marokko tot Pakistan te ondersteunen.

    Gezien het Amerikaanse offensief in het achterland van Frankrijk, doet die weer moeite om de decennia oude betrekkingen met Algerije opnieuw nieuw vorm te geven. In het vervolg van een aantal reizen van delegaties van ministers en managers, kwam in maart 2003 ook President Jacques Chirac naar Algerije en sloot daar met zijn collega Bouteflika de ‘Verklaring van Algiers’ af. Deze intentieverklaring beoogd een omvattend samenwerkingsverdrag op politiek en militair vlak tussen de twee landen. Een vriendschapsverdrag, dat vaak met het Duits Franse vriendschapsverdrag wordt vergeleken, is voor 2005 gepland, maar de ondertekening is verschoven.
    Twee gebeurtenissen moeten de Amerikaanse militaire aanwezigheid als terrorismebestrijding in de regio rechtvaardigen: De ontvoering van de Sahara-toeristen begin 2003 en de aanval op de militaire basis van Lemghity in Mauretanie op 4 juni 2005. Het eerste voorval was reden tot het inrichten van een VS basis en een afluisterstation, met 400 militairen, in de buurt van Tamanrasset. Het tweede voorval gebeurde precies tijdens de grootste Amerikaanse legeroefening sinds de tweede wereldoorlog van 6 tot 26 juni 2005 plaats. Aan de operatie Flintlock namen ca. 3000 soldaten uit acht landen in de regio deel.
    De ontvoering van een aantal groepen toeristen in het voorjaar van 2003 werd de GSPC aangerekend. De vraag is echter, in hoeverre de geheime diensten deze gepland en tot op zekere hoogte ook uitgevoerd hebben. Sleutelfiguur in deze operatie is Amari Saifi, alias al-Para, die graag als de “Bin Laden van de woestijn” wordt genoemd.

    El-Para en de ontvoering van de Europese Toeristen

    De carrière van al-Para is niet buitengewoon en duid al op mogelijke contacten tussen de GSPC en de Algerijnse geheime dienst. Hij wordt meestal als voormalig parachutist gepresenteerd, die tot de garde van Generaal Khaled Nezzar, voormalig minister van defensie, behoorde. Hij deserteerde in 1991 of 1992 en volgens de website Centre de recherche sur le terrorisme depuis le 11 septembre 2001 zou hij zichzelf in 1994 bij de autoriteiten hebben aangegeven. Hij werd een aantal keren in begeleiding van de reeds beschreven Overste Athmane Tartag gezien. Na een driejarig verblijf in het Amerikaanse Ford Bragg, het opleidingscentrum van de Green Berets, zou al-Para volgens de Algerijnse pers in 1997 wederom gedeserteerd zijn. De grootste actie die hem als een van de verantwoordelijken van de GSPC aangerekend wordt, was een hinderlaag op 4 januari 2003 in het oosten van het land , waarbij 43 soldaten werden gedood. Internationale opzien baarde al-Para, met de ontvoering van de Europese toeristen, waaronder 16 Duitsers. Hoewel hij in geen enkel organogram van de organisatie genoemd is, wordt al-Para nu als de Nr. 2 van de GSPC omschreven. Gedurende lange tijd was niet duidelijk wie de Sahara bezoekers had ontvoerd. De actie was niet geclaimd en er waren geen eisen bekend. Na een wekenlange odyssee in de woestijn, die kennelijk door het Algerijnse leger, maar ook door Europese en Amerikaanse geheime diensten werd gevolgd, heeft het Algerijnse leger een groep gijzelaars in mei 2003 bij een spectaculaire actie bevrijd. Terwijl officieel over meerdere doden onder de ontvoerders wordt gesproken, hebben de bevrijde Gijzelaars geen enkele dode gezien. Sommigen berichtten ook de indruk te hebben gehad, getuige te zijn van een geënsceneerd scenario. De ontvoerders lukte het om met een tweede groep naar Mali te vluchtten, waar pas in augustus 2003 de slachtoffers tegen een losgeld werden vrijgelaten. Volgens de Algerijnse pers bewapende al-Para zijn mannen met de opbrengst en lukte het ondanks het internationale arrestatiebevel en de Amerikaanse militaire aanwezigheid om te ontsnappen.

    Interessant is, dat in juli van dat jaar, een Algerijnse krant schreef over de Amerikaanse plannen om in het zuiden van het land een militaire basis te bouwen. Deze zou precies in dat gebied worden gebouwd, waar de toeristen werden ontvoerd. De VS strategen claimden dat de Sahel-zone het terugtrekkingsgebied van al-Qaida strijders was geworden. In Maart 2004 verklaarde Generaal Charles Wald, plaatsvervanger opperbevelhebber van de Amerikaanse strijdkrachten in Europa (Eucom), dat al-Qaida activisten zouden proberen, “in Noord-afrika, in de Sahel-zone en de Maghreb” voet aan de grond te krijgen. “Ze willen daar een terugtrekkingsgebied zoals in het Afghanistan onder de Taliban heerschappij inrichten. Ze hebben een veilig oord nodig om zich opnieuw te groeperen, uit te rusten en nieuwe leden te rekruteren.” Maar wie zijn de strijders in de regio? Al-Para en de GSPC, waarvan werd beweerd dat ze contacten met al-Qaida hebben. Noch heeft de GSPC deze verbinding ooit gemeld, noch bleken de aanwijzingen voor een organisch verband stand te houden: Het belangrijkste “bewijs” zou een videoband zijn die bij een vermoedelijke afgezand van al-Qaida in Algerije is gevonden, nadat deze in september 2002 is vermoord. Deze “vondst” maakte het voor de Algerijnse regering mogelijk om de GSPC op de Amerikaanse lijst van terroristische organisaties in het buitenland te laten staan. Later gaven drie overlopers van de GSPC toe, dat deze video, waarop de Algerijnse Salafisten de ondersteuning door al-Qaida wordt beloofd, door de GSPC zelf zou zijn opgenomen. Maar daar had niemand meer interesse in, de verbinding tussen de twee organisaties was immers vastgesteld.

    Ondertussen kon al-Para zich vrij van Mali, over Niger naar Tsjaad bewegen, waar hij uiteindelijk door een rebellengroep in Tibesti in maart 2004 werd gearresteerd. Niemand lek zich meer voor de Bin Laden van de woestijn te interesseren, ondanks dat bijvoorbeeld de Duitse regering een internationaal arrestatiebevel had uitgevaardigd. De Amerikanen gingen zelfs zo ver, dat ze beweerden dat “al-Para en zijn kompanen zo snel mogelijk door de Algerijnse autoriteiten gepakt en voor het gerecht gebracht zou moeten worden.” Alles wees erop dat al-Para weer snel vrij zou moeten komen, want de GPSC was “de enige reden voor de Amerikaanse aanwezigheid in de regio. Enkele besluiten zouden opnieuw bekeken moeten worden, in het geval dat al-Para wordt gedood en zijn dood officieel bevestigd, of als hij wordt gevangen en aan een andere staat uitgeleverd.”
    Tenslotte wordt al-Para op 27 oktober aan de Algerijnse autoriteiten uitgeleverd en niemand weet waar hij zich op dit moment bevindt. Officieel zit hij vast, maar hij verscheen niet op zijn meermaals verdaagde rechtszaak op 25 juni 2005. Het gerecht veroordeelde hem bij verstek tot levenslang en beschouwde hem als “afwezig”! De gerechtvaardigde vraag is nu, of de DRS er belang bij heeft hem te beschermen en hem daarom niet aan het gerecht overlaat.

    Wordt Frankrijk het nieuwe doelwit van de GSPC?

    Op 26 juni 2005 kondigde de franse kant Le Monde aan dat de GSPC Frankrijk bedreigde. Een brief van de Emir, Abdelmalek Droukdal aan al-Zarkaoui van 14 oktober 2004 zou door de Amerikaanse geheime dienst zijn onderschept. Hij zou hierin de chef van al-Qaida in Irak oproepen “bij de doelwitten van de Gijzelaars in Irak ook de Fransen te betrekken”. De GSPC “wil elke vorm van druk op Frankrijk uitoefenen” vanwege haar “bemoeienissen met de bevrijding van de 32 Europese toeristen, die in 2003 in de Sahara ontvoerd werden.” De druk dient er ook voor om de bevrijding van al-Para en andere gevangenen van de GSPC in Algerije te bewerkstelligen.
    De meldingen overstelpten elkaar, conflicteerden met elkaar en werden steeds meer gericht op Frankrijk. Zo schreef bijvoorbeeld Le Figaro op 23 juli dat in de onderschepte brief van de GSPC Chef, de ontvoeringen in Irak worden voorgesteld om zo de vrijlating van gevangen moslims in Frankrijk af te dwingen.
    Zowel Le Monde als Le Figaro gaven aan dat de brief door Abdelmalek Droukdal zou zijn opgesteld. Echter geen van beide gerenommeerde balden merkte op, dat het Algerijnse ministerie van defensie reeds op 20 juni 2004 in en verklaring de dood van Droukdal alsook van Nabil Saharoui, de toenmalige Emir van de GSPC en andere leden, bekend heeft gemaakt. Deze melding van door de gehele Algerijnse pers overgenomen en Radio France International verspreidde haar op 21 juni 2004. De Algerijnse pers kondigde wederom zonder navraag op 7 september van hetzelfde jaar, de nominatie van de nieuwe Emir aan, geen ander, dan diezelfde Droukdal! Wie de levensloop van de diverse Emirs van de GSPC volgt, weet, dat dood en wederopstanding geen uitzondering zijn.
    Op 14 oktober 2004 beweerd de GSPC in een communiqué op haar website, dat de franse geheime dienst bij de arrestatie van Abderrezal al-Para door de rebellengroep MDJT uit Tsjaad een rol gespeeld heeft. Die laatste wordt opgeroepen om de GSPC man weer vrij te laten. Hoe verklaard zich het toeval van de datum van tussen het communiqué van de GSPC en de door de Amerikaanse geheime diensten onderschepte brief? Nog curieuzer is de toestand, dat in de op 14 oktober door Le Monde geciteerde brief, de vrijlating van al-Para in Algerije wordt geëist, terwijl deze pas 27 oktober aan Algerije wordt uitgeleverd!
    Gezien deze tegenstrijdigheden is het moeilijk de bewijzen geloofwaardig te achtten. Maar ten opzichte van de publieke opinie zijn deze aanwijzingen voldoende om de “reactivering” van de GSPC netwerken in Europa te bezweren en de vrees voor aanstaande aanvallen te aanzien van de aanstaande vrijlating van moslims uit franse gevangenissen te laten groeien.

    Heeft de VS de touwtjes in handen?

    De aanvallen op de militaire basis van Lemgheity in Mauretanië

    De militaire basis van Lemgheity van Mauritanië aan de grens van Algerije en Mali werd in de vroege ochtend van 4 juni door een gewapende groep aangevallen. De groep, die uit 100 tot 140 man bestond, was volgens bronnen in Mauritanië met een tiental voertuigen opgerukt om de basis, waarin 50 soldaten gestationeerd waren, aan te vallen. Vijftien soldaten uit Mauritanië en vijf aanvallers werden gedood, 20 soldaten raakten gewond en twee soldaten werden vermist. De regering van Mauritanië kwam snel met een verklaring waarin de verantwoording voor de aanval bij de Algerijnse GSPC werd gelegd.

    Hoe kan een colonne van twaalf voertuigen zich verplaatsen in een zone die twee dagen later toneel zou zijn van de grootste militaire oefening onder leiding van de VS? Hoe kan een zo grote groep mannen en voertuigen zonder een spoor weer verdwijnen? Het is aannemelijk dat satellieten deze regio scherp observeren, vooral omdat de kazerne een belangrijke strategische positie inneemt en in een gebied ligt waarin vermoedelijk aardolievelden liggen. In het
    Bassin de Taoudenni, waarin het plaatsje Lemgheity ligt, concurreren oliemaatschappijen, vooral het Australische Woodside en het Franse Total. Op de website van de GSPC werd de aanval bejubeld, maar de onjuistheden over details van de operatie aan de ene kant en de opgave van de precieze achternamen van vermoorde officieren aan de andere kant, roepen twijfel op over de vraag wie er achter deze operatie zit.

    In een onderzoek van een mensenrechtengroep uit Mauritanië naar de aanval, werd de nadruk gelegd op banden tussen leden van de GSPC en de smokkelaars in Mauritanië die weer nauwe banden met de president onderhielden. De schrijvers gaan zelfs nog een stap verder:”De mogelijke deelname van de groep van Belouar [van de GSPC] aan de operatie van Lemgheity bevestigt het vermoeden van een geheime instemming van de inlichtingendiensten van luitenant Ould Taya. Met het plan om arme, slecht bewapende soldaten te doden, zou gepoogd zijn bewijs te leveren van het bestaan van terroristische dreiging in Mauritanië.”

    Voor de regering van de VS is deze aanval een welkome aanleiding hun eerzuchtige plannen in de regio te rechtvaardigen: het « Trans Sahara Counterterrorisme Operatie », waarvoor het Pentagon een half miljard dollar ter beschikking stelt. Het opperbevel van dit initiatief bevindt zich in Dakar en bestaat uit eenheden van Algerije, Senegal, Tsjaad, Tunesië, Marokko, Niger, Nigeria en Mali. De Flintlock manoeuvres in juni 2005 vonden in diverse landen plaats onder leiding van speciale Amerikaanse eenheden. Het doel van deze oefeningen, waarvan er meer volgen, is de strijd tegen terrorisme, mensen-, wapen- en drugshandel.

    Twee maanden na de aanval op de kazerne van Lemgheity en een maand na het einde van de militaire oefeningen in de regio werd Mauritanië. op 3 augustus door een staatsgreep overvallen. De coupplegers, onder leiding van de chef van de presidentiële garde, kolonel Mohamed Ould Abdel-Aziz, zouden meer op de hand van de Fransen zijn dan van de Amerikanen, die de afgezette president Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya steunden. De afgezette president onderhield diplomatieke betrekkingen met Israël, accepteerde diensten van hen op militair vlak en sprak zich uit voor de invasie in Irak, een houding waarmee hij in Mauritanië. op veel kritiek stuitte. De coup werd opgevat als een tegenslag voor de politiek van de VS en kan een rem zetten op de politieke en militaire expansiedrift van de VS in die regio, een ontwikkeling die Frankrijk met argwaan volgde.

    De ontvoering en moord op twee Algerijnse diplomaten in Irak
    Intussen had nog een gebeurtenis vermoedens over de mogelijke betrokkenheid van inlichtingendiensten bij terroristische operaties versterkt. De ontvoering en moord op twee Algerijnse diplomaten in Irak eind juli 2005 is nog steeds met raadselen omgeven. Veel aanwijzingen duiden er op dat ze niet het slachtoffer werden van vergelding van het “Irakese verzet”. De Algerijnse pers had hierover ongebruikelijke berichten gepubliceerd, die in het licht van de spaarzame informatie over de omstandigheden over de omstandigheden van de operatie vragen oproept over de opdrachtgevers.

    Op 21 juli 2005 werden twee Algerijnse diplomaten in Bagdad in de veiligheidszone al-Mansourah ontvoerd. Sinds de invasie in Irak door de Amerikaans Britse troepen werden de eigenlijke ambassadewerkzaamheden vanuit de Algerijnse ambassade in Jordanië geleid. Ali Belaroussi en Azzedine Belkadi waren in Irak officieel verantwoordelijk voor het behartigen van de belangen van de Algerijnse gemeenschap die uit ongeveer 300 mensen bestaat. Belaroussi was sinds twee jaar in Bagdad, Belkadi was net een maand ter plekke.

    De Algerijnse regering scheen ernstig geschokt te zijn door de gijzeling, hoewel in de voorafgaande weken meer diplomaten ontvoerd of aangevallen waren. Des te verbazingwekkender was het bericht dat de beide mannen ongewapend waren en ook niet vergezeld werden door lijfwachten. De Algerijnse pers maakte melding van de verantwoordelijkheid van al-Zarkaoui en de medeverantwoordelijkheid van de GSPC voordat de ontvoerders iets van zich hadden laten horen. Een brief van de groep van al-Zarkaoui waarin de verantwoordelijkheid werd opgeëist, en waarvan de echtheid niet bevestigd kon worden, verscheen twee dagen later, op 23 juli op het internet. De brief ging alleen in op de ontvoering van Belaroussi. De groep noemde geen eisen, maar rechtvaardigde de daad ermee dat Algerije diplomatieke betrekkingen met het bezette Irak onderhield en geen gehoor had gegeven aan de oproep Irak te verlaten. De GSPC publiceerde tegelijkertijd op haar website een persbericht. Die bevatte echter niet, zoals de pers beweerde, de eis om al-Para vrij te laten (denk er echter aan dat in de blijkbaar onderschepte brief van de emir van de GSPC, al-Zarkaoui aangeraden had in Irak ontvoeringen op te zetten, zie boven). Daarentegen veroordeelde de GSPC de dubbele moraal van de Algerijnse regering omdat “ze haar ondersteuning van de kruisvaarders verdoezelde en steun voor het Irakese volk voorwendde” maar “tegelijkertijd dit volk verraadde door het afvallige Irakese bestuur te erkennen”.

    Op 26 juli verscheen een video opname op het Internet. Beide gijzelaars werden na elkaar geblinddoekt getoond – een ongebruikelijke praktijk – en zeiden hun namen. Tegelijkertijd verspreidden de ontvoerders via forums op het Internet een door een zekere Abou Maïssara El-Iraqi getekende verklaring waarin gesteld werd dat een “islamitische rechtbank” ze ter dood veroordeeld had. De bekentenissen van de gijzelaars werden op een later tijdstip openbaar gemaakt. De GSPC van haar kant gaf een brief uit waarin noch een logo, noch een datum, noch een ondertekening stond. In de brief verwelkomde ze de ontvoering en raadde ze de ontvoerders aan om de gijzelaars te verhoren, vooral Azzedine Belkadi, die volgens hen een agent van de inlichtingendienst was en die betrokken was geweest bij de massamoorden in Rais en Benthala in 1997. De zaak werd nog ingewikkelder door de berichten uit Irak dat de video en de aankondiging van het doodsvonnis mogelijk niet uit dezelfde bron kwamen. Veel journalisten vermoedden dat de beide diplomaten in de handen waren van Algerijnse Jihadstrijders in Irak. Door de opeenhoping van tegenstrijdige informatie ontstond steeds met de verdenking dat verschillende groepen, misschien vanuit veiligheidsdiensten, bij de zaak betrokken waren.

    Op de middag van 27 juli werd via dezelfde website als waarin de verantwoordelijkheid werd opgeëist en de video gepubliceerd werd een door Abu Maissar ondertekende verklaring uitgegeven die de moord op Belaroussi en Belkadi bevestigde. Er werd tegen de verwachting in geen video verspreid. Meteen nadat hun dood was aangekondigd organiseerde de Algerijnse ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken een persconferentie waarin de aankondiging van de dood van de beide mannen overgenomen werd. Hoe kan de Algerijnse regering na enkele uren met zekerheid de dood van de beide diplomaten bevestigen als in de dagen ervoor steeds weer de authenticiteit van de boodschappen op Internet ter discussie stond?

    De minister van Buitenlandse Zaken maakte bekend dat de ontvoerders twee keer geprobeerd hadden contact op te nemen met de Algerijnse overheid, zonder succes. De volgende dag publiceerde de GSPC een persbericht, waarin zij de moord op de diplomaten goedkeurde. Volgens de Algerijnse pers is de Algerijnse ondergrondse organisatie mede verantwoordelijk voor de voltrekking van het doodsvonnis. Ze werd beschouwd als een verlengstuk van al-Qaida in Marokko, maar de beschuldigingen gingen nog verder. Er werd beweerd dat hun leden deel hadden genomen aan de actie.

    Een andere, goed geïnformeerde Algerijnse krant schreef een paar dagen van te voren over de identiteit van de Jihadstrijders: “Volgens een anonieme Algerijnse bron heeft de GSPC sinds de Amerikaanse invasie Algerijnse vrijwilligers via Syrië naar Irak gebracht. Zij dienden bij de Salafisten te infiltreren die het al-Qaida netwerk ondersteunden of hun opleiding wilden uitbreiden voor ze naar Algerije terugkeerden”. Het is hoogst ongebruikelijk om op deze manier in te gaan op de activiteiten van oppositiegroepen en het kan wijzen op activiteiten van de geheime diensten.

    Andere Algerijnse kranten zetten dit vermoeden nog meer kracht bij. Zij brachten de ontvoering en moord op de twee mannen in verband met het Amerikaanse streven naar hegemonie in de regio. Een artikel wees op het persbericht van het presidium van de Republiek van 27 Juli, waarin gewaarschuwd werd voor het beschuldigen van verkeerde personen voor de moord op de twee diplomaten. De journalist benadrukte dat het persbericht het begrip ‘agressie’ hanteerde en niet ‘aanslag’. In diplomatentaal wordt daarmee het handelen van een staat aangeduid en niet het handelen van een terroristische groep. Andere kranten berichtten dat de moord van de twee diplomaten in verband stond met het voornemen van de president om een generale amnestie uit te vaardigen. De moord werd ook in een globale context gezet. De grootmachten zouden invloed willen uitoefenen op de aankomende ‘nationale verzoening’.

    De achterliggende redenen van dit verbazingwekkende commentaar van de Algerijnse pers blijven onduidelijk. Het is opmerkelijk dat in een sfeer waarin het terrorisme en het verband tussen de GSPC en al-Qaida benadrukt wordt, officiële verklaringen doen vermoeden dat iets niet volgens plan is gebeurd. Is het denkbaar dat een geënsceneerde ontvoering werd georganiseerd door een fractie van de Algerijnse geheime dienst met goedkeuring of medewerking van een grootmacht om druk uit te oefenen op de Algerijnse staat en dat deze slachtoffer werd van hun eigen ‘spel’? Dat zou kunnen verklaren dat enerzijds het scenario van te voren bekend was en anderzijds de omvang van de verontwaardiging na de dood van de diplomaten zo groot was. In ieder geval verdween kort daarna de webpagina van de GSPC!

    Om de verwarring op te voeren (binnen een week zouden al-Zarkaoui en de GSPC drie persberichten gepubliceerd hebben), kwam op 30 Juli al-Zarkaoui persoonlijk met een nieuwe verklaring. Hij verzekerde nog voor de ontvoering nog voor de moord op de twee Algerijnse diplomaten (en op de Egyptische diplomaat, wie twee weken eerder hetzelfde lot was beschoren) verantwoordelijk te zijn.

    Als het nationale belang onderworpen wordt aan internationale druk

    De boven beschreven operatie roept meer vragen dan antwoorden op. Desondanks valt er uit de gebeurtenissen af te leiden, dat dit complexe voorval niet te reduceren valt tot een conflict tussen een staat, in dit geval Algerije, en gewapende groepen, de voormalige GIA, nu de GSPC. Naar alle waarschijnlijkheid dienden deze groepen als instrument van verschillende machten. Er valt te vrezen dat in het licht van het toenemende conflict tussen Frankrijk en de VS in de Marokko regio meer aanslagen zullen volgen. Of operaties door de geheime dienst ook ingezet worden om de politiek van de Algerijnse staat te beïnvloeden is onduidelijk.

    Dat president Bouteflika, die tien maanden geleden een algehele amnestie aankondigde, uiteindelijk twee weken na het voorval in Irak een ‘handvest voor vrede en verzoening’ aankondigde, roept vraagtekens op. Dit handvest verschilt qua status nauwelijks van de wet van de ‘burgerlijke eendracht’ uit 2000. In deze wet wordt gratie en straffeloosheid van de leden van gewapende groepen beoogd die zichzelf bij de autoriteiten aangeven en geen bloedbaden, verkrachtingen of bomaanslagen hebben gepleegd. Ze mogen echter niet meer politieke actief zijn. Dit handvest omvat ook een lofzang voor het Algerijnse leger en alle krachten, die het ‘terrorisme’ succesvol hebben bestreden.

    Sommigen zien daarin het plan om militairen en andere inlichtingendiensten te vrijwaren van elke verantwoordelijkheid voor hun daden. Geconstateerd moet worden, dat de charta geen wettelijke bodem biedt voor de amnestie van hun misdaden. Bouteflika gaf toe dat de machtsverhoudingen geen verdere concessies toelaten. Betekent dat een algemene amnestie, die voornamelijk het leger van dienst zou zijn, internationaal niet verdedigbaar is? Bestaat de deal eruit de meest vooraanstaande militairen, verantwoordelijk voor de staatsterreur, geleidelijk aan eervol uit het politieke circuit terug te trekken in ruil voor kwijtschelding van strafvervolging?

    Algerije neemt vanwege de geografische ligging, de hulpbronnen en menselijke mogelijkheden een gunstige plaats in de ‘verdedigingsstrategie’ van de VS in haar visie over de integratie van Marokko. De nagestreefde modernisering en professionalisering van het Algerijnse leger gaat gepaard met het Amerikaanse ‘Middle East Partnership Initiative’ (MEPI), dat claimt maatschappelijke veranderingen te steunen. Een opgekrikte staatsklasse, waarin geen generaals te vinden zijn, hoort net zo bij het imago dat Algerije voor zichzelf wil creëren als de diverse campagnes, die de eisen van de wereldhandelsorganisatie en het IMF moeten waarmaken.

    Er zijn echter nog een aantal hindernissen, die volgens de VS uit de weg geruimd moeten worden om Algerije de rol van regionale macht toe te staan. Het decennia lang durende conflict met Marokko over de West Sahara wordt gezien als een rem, waarmee de VS zich momenteel bezig houdt. Met betrekking tot de Amerikaanse politiek tegenover Irak heeft Algerije altijd een voorzichtige houding ingenomen. Zij hebben jarenlang het embargo omzeild en pleitten nu voor een terugtrekking van de militairen van de coalitie uit het bezette land. De solidaire houding van Algerije ten opzichte van de Palestijnse strijd wordt tot slot niet met genoegen aanschouwd.

    De bemoeienissen voor een ‘normalisering’ van de relatie met Israël hebben weliswaar tot informele contacten geleid, maar Algerije heeft officieel tot nu toe geen diplomatieke banden opgenomen. Marokko moet een strategische partner worden van de VS, wat de Franse regering met argwaan ziet. Haar gewicht in haar traditionele ‘achterland’ West-Afrika wordt al enorm beperkt door de Amerikaanse aanwezigheid in onder andere Senegal en Mali. Het vooruitzicht om nu ook in Marokko en vooral in Algerije gemarginaliseerd te worden door de supermacht, doet alarmbellen rinkelen. Door deze strijd om invloed worden de conflicten en spanningen steeds scherper met niet te voorziene gevolgen.

    Vertaling van het artikel “Terrorismus im Dienste der Großmächte?”
    Van Salima Mellah, uit Algeria-Watch, Infomappe 32 van September 2005

    Find this story at 1 September 2005
    Find a story at 8 September 2005
    Attentats GIA en France 1995
    Secrets d’Actualité – Il y a 20 ans, les attentats de 1995

    Who really bombed Paris? (1995, 2005, 2015) 2005

    The evidence is that the 1995 Islamist attacks on the French metro were in fact carried out by the Algerian secret service

    Ever since the 1995 bombing of the Paris metro by the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) made France the first western European country to suffer so-called radical Islamist terrorism, its politicians and “terror experts” have consistently warned Britain to the dangers of welcoming Islamist political dissidents and radical preachers to her shores.
    In the aftermath of the July London attacks, commentators were quick to argue that France’s “zero tolerance” policy and campaign of “integration” in the name of republican values – embodied in the 2004 ban on the display of all religious symbols in schools – has spared the country from terror attacks, while Britain’s failure to follow Spain and Germany in adopting the French model has proved a spectacular own-goal. However, as Tony Blair made clear in unveiling his government’s proposed legislation on August 5, “the rules of the game have changed”. Suddenly, the French recipe for dealing with Islamist terror has become feted by British politicians and media alike.


    But how would we regard the virtue of the French model if, a decade after bombs ripped through the metro, enough evidence had been gathered to demonstrate that the attacks allegedly carried out by Islamist militants were not fuelled by fundamentalism, but instead were dreamt up and overseen by the Algerian secret service as part of a domestic political struggle that spilled over into Algeria’s former colonial master? The most comprehensive studies – including Lounis Aggoun and Jean-Baptiste Rivoire’s Françalgérie: Crimes and Lies of the State – argue that this is exactly what happened.

    In 1991 Algeria’s main Islamic party, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), won a first-round victory in the country’s inaugural multiparty general elections, which threatened to strip away the power of the generals who had controlled the state from the shadows.

    Exploiting Europe’s fear of an Islamic government, the Algerian army intervened to halt the second round of voting, forcing the president to step down and a temporary commission to rule the country. But the legitimacy of this new arrangement could only be assured if the Islamic opposition could be discredited and crushed.

    The DRS – the Algerian secret service – systematically infiltrated insurrectionary Islamist groups such as the GIA and from 1992 onwards launched its own fake guerrilla groups, including death squads disguised as Islamists. In 1994, the DRS managed to place Jamel Zitouni, one of the Islamists it controlled, at the head of the GIA.

    “It became impossible to distinguish the genuine Islamists from those controlled by the regime,” says Salima Mellah, of the NGO Algeria Watch. “Each time the generals came under pressure from the international community, the terror intensified”. By January 1995, however, Algeria’s dirty war began to falter. The Italian government hosted a meeting in Rome of Algerian political parties, including the FIS. The participants agreed a common platform, calling for an inquiry into the violence in Algeria, the end of the army’s involvement in political affairs and the return of constitutional rule.


    This left the generals in an untenable position. In their desperation, and with the help of the DRS, they hatched a plot to prevent French politicians from ever again withdrawing support for the military junta. As Aggoun and Rivoire recount, French-based Algerian spies initially given the task of infiltrating Islamist networks were transformed into agent provocateurs. In spring 1995, Ali Touchent, an Algerian agent, began to gather and incite a network of disaffected young men from north African backgrounds to commit terrorist attacks in France. The DRS’s infiltrators, led by Zitouni, also pushed the GIA to eliminate some of the FIS’s leaders living in Europe.

    On July 11 1995 Abdelbaki Sahraoui, a FIS leader in France, was assassinated. The GIA claimed responsibility. Two weeks later the metro was hit by bombs, killing eight. After a further attack, Zitouni called on President Jacques Chirac to “convert to Islam to be saved”. The resulting public hysteria against Islam and Islamism saw the French government abandon its support for the Rome accord.

    So what happened to the perpetrators? The masterminds of the main attack were never caught. Despite being publicly identified by the Algerian authorities as the European ringleader of the GIA and by French investigators as the key organiser, Touchent evaded capture, returned to Algeria and settled in a secure police quarter of Algiers.

    France’s inability to bring to justice those genuinely responsible for the 1995 attacks was evidently more than an accident. According to Mohamed Samraoui, a former colonel in the Algerian secret service: “French intelligence knew that Ali Touchent was a DRS operative charged with infiltrating pro-Islamist cells in foreign countries.” It has never been officially denied that in return for supplying the French authorities with valuable information, Touchent was granted protection.

    This is not the only explanation for French collaboration with the Algerian government. Algeria is one of the main suppliers of gas and oil to France, and an important client. François Gèze of La Decouverte, a French publisher which exposed the involvement of the Algerian secret services in the dirty war, argues that at the heart of this economic relationship is a web of political cor ruption. “French exporters generally pay a 10 to 15% commission on their goods. Part of this revenue is then ‘repaid’ by the Algerians as finance for the electoral campaigns of French political parties.”

    What the true story of France’s 1995 brush with “Islamic terror” reveals is that the attacks, while probably executed by a small number of Muslim extremists, were conceived and manipulated by vested interests. British policymakers would do well to understand the specific context and complex colonial legacy of French-Algerian relations before they go looking for direct comparisons. The 1995 case is also a warning against blaming “Islamists” for terror, while turning a blind eye to repressive actions of governments in the Arab world when they suit western governments’ agenda.

    Naima Bouteldja

    Thursday 8 September 2005 00.02 BST

    Find this story at 8 September 2005
    Attentats GIA en France 1995
    Secrets d’Actualité – Il y a 20 ans, les attentats de 1995

    © 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited

    Charlie Hebdo: Paris attack brothers’ campaign of terror can be traced back to Algeria in 1954

    Algeria is the post-colonial wound that still bleeds in France

    Algeria. Long before the identity of the murder suspects was revealed by the French police – even before I heard the names of Cherif and Said Kouachi – I muttered the word “Algeria” to myself. As soon as I heard the names and saw the faces, I said the word “Algeria” again. And then the French police said the two men were of “Algerian origin”.
    For Algeria remains the most painful wound within the body politic of the Republic – save, perhaps, for its continuing self-examination of Nazi occupation – and provides a fearful context for every act of Arab violence against France. The six-year Algerian war for independence, in which perhaps a million and a half Arab Muslims and many thousands of French men and women died, remains an unending and unresolved agony for both peoples. Just over half a century ago, it almost started a French civil war.


    Maybe all newspaper and television reports should carry a “history corner”, a little reminder that nothing – absolutely zilch – happens without a past. Massacres, bloodletting, fury, sorrow, police hunts (“widening” or “narrowing” as sub-editors wish) take the headlines. Always it’s the “who” and the “how” – but rarely the “why”. Take the crime against humanity in Paris this week – the words “atrocity” and “barbarity” somehow diminish the savagery of this act – and its immediate aftermath.

    We know the victims: journalists, cartoonists, cops. And how they were killed. Masked gunmen, Kalashnikov automatic rifles, ruthless, almost professional nonchalance. And the answer to “why” was helpfully supplied by the murderers. They wanted to avenge “the Prophet” for Charlie Hebdo’s irreverent and (for Muslims) highly offensive cartoons. And of course, we must all repeat the rubric: nothing – nothing ever – could justify these cruel acts of mass murder. And no, the killers cannot call on history to justify their crimes.

    In pictures: Charlie Hebdo suspects siege
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    But there’s an important context that somehow got left out of the story this week, the “history corner” that many Frenchmen as well as Algerians prefer to ignore: the bloody 1954-62 struggle of an entire people for freedom against a brutal imperial regime, a prolonged war which remains the foundational quarrel of Arabs and French to this day.

    The desperate and permanent crisis in Algerian-French relations, like the refusal of a divorced couple to accept an agreed narrative of their sorrow, poisons the cohabitation of these two peoples in France. However Cherif and Said Kouachi excused their actions, they were born at a time when Algeria had been invisibly mutilated by 132 years of occupation. Perhaps five million of France’s six and a half million Muslims are Algerian. Most are poor, many regard themselves as second-class citizens in the land of equality.


    Like all tragedies, Algeria’s eludes the one-paragraph explanation of news agency dispatches, even the shorter histories written by both sides after the French abandoned Algeria in 1962.

    For unlike other important French dependencies or colonies, Algeria was regarded as an integral part of metropolitan France, sending representatives to the French parliament in Paris, even providing Charles de Gaulle and the Allies with a French “capital” from which to invade Nazi-occupied north Africa and Sicily.

    More than 100 years earlier, France had invaded Algeria itself, subjugating its native Muslim population, building small French towns and chateaux across the countryside, even – in an early 19th-century Catholic renaissance which was supposed to “re-Christianise” northern Africa – converting mosques into churches.

    The Algerian response to what today appears to be a monstrous historical anachronism varied over the decades between lassitude, collaboration and insurrection. A demonstration for independence in the Muslim-majority and nationalist town of Sétif on VE Day – when the Allies had liberated the captive countries of Europe – resulted in the killing of 103 European civilians. French government revenge was ruthless; up to 700 Muslim civilians – perhaps far more – were killed by infuriated French “colons” and in bombardment of surrounding villages by French aircraft and a naval cruiser. The world paid little attention.

    But when a full-scale insurrection broke out in 1954 – at first, of course, ambushes with few French lives lost and then attacks on the French army – the sombre war of Algerian liberation was almost preordained. Beaten in that classic post-war anti-colonial battle at Dien Bien Phu, the French army, after its debacle in 1940, seemed vulnerable to the more romantic Algerian nationalists who noted France’s further humiliation at Suez in 1956.

    French military police drive through Algiers during the insurrection (Keystone/Getty Images) French military police drive through Algiers during the insurrection (Keystone/Getty Images)
    What the historian Alistair Horne rightly described in his magnificent history of the Algerian struggle as “a savage war of peace” took the lives of hundreds of thousands. Bombs, booby traps, massacres by government forces and National Liberation Front guerrillas in the “bled” – the countryside south of the Mediterranean – led to the brutal suppression of Muslim sectors of Algiers, the assassination, torture and execution of guerrilla leaders by French paratroopers, soldiers, Foreign Legion operatives – including German ex-Nazis – and paramilitary police. Even white French sympathisers of the Algerians were “disappeared”. Albert Camus spoke out against torture and French civil servants were sickened by the brutality employed to keep Algeria French.

    De Gaulle appeared to support the white population and said as much in Algiers – “Je vous ai compris,” he told them – and then proceeded to negotiate with FLN representatives in France. Algerians had long provided the majority of France’s Muslim population and in October 1961 up to 30,000 of them staged a banned independence rally in Paris – in fact, scarcely a mile from the scene of last week’s slaughter – which was attacked by French police units who murdered, it is now acknowledged, up to 600 of the protesters.

    A crowd of Algerian demonstrators outside Government House, carrying Charles de Gaulle posters during the Algerian war of independence in 1985 (Getty Images) A crowd of Algerian demonstrators outside Government House, carrying Charles de Gaulle posters during the Algerian war of independence in 1985 (Getty Images) Algerians were beaten to death in police barracks or thrown into the Seine. The police chief who supervised security operations and who apparently directed the 1961 massacre was none other than Maurice Papon – who was, almost 40 years later, convicted for crimes against humanity under Petain’s Vichy regime during the Nazi occupation.

    The Algerian conflict finished in a bloodbath. White “pied noir” French colonists refused to accept France’s withdrawal, supported the secret OAS in attacking Algerian Muslims and encouraged French military units to mutiny. At one point, De Gaulle feared that French paratroopers would try to take over Paris.

    When the end came, despite FLN promises to protect French citizens who chose to stay in Algeria, there were mass killings in Oran. Up to a million and a half white French men, women and children – faced with a choice of “the coffin or the suitcase” – left for France, along with thousands of loyal Algerian “harki” fighters who fought with the army but were then largely abandoned to their terrible fate by De Gaulle. Some were forced to swallow their own French military medals and thrown into mass graves.

    Algerian rebels training to use weapons in 1958 (Getty Images) Algerian rebels training to use weapons in 1958 (Getty Images)
    But the former French colonists, who still regarded Algeria as French – along with an exhausted FLN dictatorship which took over the independent country – instituted a cold peace in which Algeria’s residual anger, in France as well as in the homeland, settled into long-standing resentment. In Algeria, the new nationalist elite embarked on a hopeless Soviet-style industrialisation of their country. Former French citizens demanded massive reparations; indeed, for decades, the French kept all the drainage maps of major Algerian cities so that the new owners of Algeria had to dig up square miles of city streets every time a water main burst.

    And when the Algerian civil war of the 1980s commenced – after the Algerian army cancelled a second round of elections which Islamists were sure to win – the corrupt FLN “pouvoir” and the Muslim rebels embarked on a conflict every bit as gruesome as the Franco-Algerian war of the 1950s and 1960s. Torture, disappearances, village massacres all resumed. France discreetly supported a dictatorship whose military leaders salted away millions of dollars in Swiss banks.

    Algerian Muslims returning from the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan joined the Islamists in the mountains, killing some of the few remaining French citizens in Algeria. And many subsequently left to fight in the Islamist wars, in Iraq and later Syria.

    Enter here the Kouachi brothers, especially Chérif, who was imprisoned for taking Frenchmen to fight against the Americans in Iraq. And the United States, with French support, now backs the FLN regime in its continuing battle against Islamists in Algeria’s deserts and mountain forests, arming a military which tortured and murdered thousands of men in the 1990s.

    As an American diplomat said just before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the United States “has much to learn” from the Algerian authorities. You can see why some Algerians went to fight for the Iraqi resistance. And found a new cause…

    Friday 9 January 2015

    Find this story at 9 January 2015

    © independent.co.uk

    Kouachi-Coulibaly, le réseau terroriste oublié par les services de renseignement

    L’apparition d’Amedy Coulibaly dans les attaques de Montrouge et de la porte de Vincennes, après le massacre de Charlie Hebdo, prouve l’implication d’un groupe structuré qui va au-delà des frères Kouachi. Selon les documents obtenus par Mediapart, une enquête antiterroriste de 2010 sur une tentative d’évasion de l’artificier des attentats de 1995 laissait déjà entrevoir de sanglantes « opérations martyres ». Kouachi et Coulibaly étaient au cœur du dossier.
    Les archives ont parlé. Dans les heures qui ont suivi l’attentat contre la rédaction deCharlie Hebdo, la police a compris qu’elle avait un dossier pour remonter très vite aux assassins. L’oubli – délibéré ou non – de la carte d’identité de Saïd Kouachi, l’un des deux auteurs du massacre avec son frère Chérif, dans une voiture pendant leur fuite, le 7 janvier, a suffi. Le nom des Kouachi a aussitôt fait émerger le dossier de l’enquête antiterroriste ouverte en 2010 sur l’opération visant à faire évader de prison plusieurs chefs islamistes, parmi lesquels Smaïn Aït Ali Belkacem, l’artificier des attentats parisiens de 1995. La police a ainsi rapidement multiplié les perquisitions en région parisienne.
    Déjà condamné en 2008 dans le dossier de la filière de recrutement djihadiste dite “des Buttes-Chaumont”, Chérif Kouachi avait été soupçonné, en 2010, d’avoir rejoint ce nouveau réseau chargé de l’évasion de Belkacem. Tout comme Amedy Coulibaly, mis en cause dans les assassinats de Montrouge et de la porte de Vincennes, ces 8 et 9 janvier. Actuellement recherchée pour son implication présumée dans les dernières actions, Hayat Boumeddienne, la compagne de Coulibaly, avait elle aussi été arrêtée, entendue et perquisitionnée dans cette même affaire.
    Les frères Kouachi, Chérif et Saïd.
    Les frères Kouachi, Chérif et Saïd.
    Alors que Kouachi a bénéficié d’un non-lieu à l’issue de l’instruction, Coulibaly a été condamné à cinq ans de prison, le 20 décembre 2013. Le ministre de l’intérieur Bernard Cazeneuve a donc induit l’opinion publique en erreur en déclarant, vendredi, que « rien ne témoignait du fait » que les frères Kouachi et Amedy Coulibaly « pouvaient s’engager dans un acte de ce type. Leur situation n’avait pas été judiciarisée ».
    En décembre 2013, huit autres membres du groupe de Kouachi et Coulibaly avaient écopé de peines allant de un à douze ans de prison. Un seul a fait appel : la figure centrale du réseau, Djamel Beghal, condamné en 2005 pour avoir nourri quatre ans plus tôt un projet d’attentat contre l’ambassade américaine à Paris. Il a été écroué puis assigné à résidence dans le Cantal. En décembre dernier, la peine de Beghal dans l’affaire des projets d’évasion a été confirmée par la cour d’appel de Paris. C’était il y a à peine plus d’un mois.
    « Pas de preuves, et seules les convictions religieuses sont condamnées », s’est alors plaint Beghal sur son blog. Le dossier d’enquête auquel Mediapart a eu accès dans son intégralité laisse pourtant entrevoir l’existence d’un groupe armé, déjà prêt à envisager, outre des tentatives d’évasion, des « opérations martyres ». Six membres de ce groupe – dont quatre avaient purgé leurs peines – étaient en liberté à la veille de l’attentat contreCharlie Hebdo.

    Dès le printemps 2010, les policiers antiterroristes mesurent très vite la dangerosité de ce réseau. Le 18 mai, ils découvrent lors d’une perquisition chez Coulibaly, alias « Doly », à Bagneux (Hauts-de-Seine), un lot de 240 cartouches de calibre 7.62 caché dans un seau de peinture, ainsi qu’un étui de revolver dans un placard.« Elles m’appartiennent, explique le suspect au sujet des balles. Il s’agit de cartouches pour kalach’. Je cherche à les vendre dans la rue. »
    Amedy Coulibaly, mort vendredi lors de l’assaut du magasin HyperCacher porte de Vincennes, où quatre otages ont également péri, n’est pas un inconnu des services de police. Alors qu’il est employé chez Manpower, il a déjà été impliqué dans seize affaires de vols à main armée, violences et trafic de stupéfiants. Présenté comme un « islamiste rigoriste » en mai 2010 par la sous-direction antiterroriste (SDAT) de la police judiciaire, il minimise pourtant sa radicalité religieuse devant les enquêteurs lorsqu’il est entendu. « J’essaie d’avancer avec la religion mais je vais doucement », concède-t-il. Amedy Coulibaly présente alors Chérif Kouachi comme « un ami rencontré en prison », poissonnier en intérim.
    Questionné sur ses liens avec « des vétérans du djihad », il admet en connaître un, Djamel Beghal. Coulibaly et Kouachi seront d’ailleurs présentés tous deux en juillet 2013 par le parquet antiterroriste comme des « élèves » de ce dernier. « Si vous voulez que je vous dise tous les terroristes que je connais, vous n’avez pas fini, je les connais tous : ceux des filières tchétchènes, des filières afghanes…, se plaît à fanfaronner Coulibaly devant les policiers, sur procès-verbal. Mais ce n’est pas parce que je les connais que ça fait de moi un terroriste. » Il se prétend même « pas d’accord avec les attentats (…) ne serait-ce que parce que je pourrais en être victime ». « Jamais de la vie je ne participerais à un attentat ou à quelque chose de si grave que ça », insiste-t-il devant le juge, quelques jours plus tard.
    La réalité de l’enquête, pourtant, est tout autre. Des écoutes téléphoniques effectuées en mars et avril 2010 sur le portable de « Doly » montrent « sans ambiguïté », selon les enquêteurs, « sa foi radicale » et « l’emprise idéologique » exercée sur lui par Djamel Beghal. L’artificier des attentats de 1995, Smaïn Aït Ali Belkacem, le considère pour sa part comme un militant « fiable et déterminé ». « En plus, il est bien dans la religion, il est en dedans. Il est sérieux dans la religion », jugeait le terroriste islamiste durant une conversation téléphonique interceptée sur un portable utilisé clandestinement en prison.
    Amedy Coulibaly
    Amedy Coulibaly © DR
    Avec une arbalète.
    Avec une arbalète.
    L’analyse de l’ordinateur portable de Coulibaly fait par ailleurs apparaître des photos de lui posant devant un drapeau noir islamiste ; sur d’autres, on le voit en forêt, armé d’une arbalète, aux côtés de sa femme intégralement voilée. Au milieu de multiples témoignages de foi, les enquêteurs sont également tombés en arrêt devant différents clichés pédopornographiques, qu’ils retrouveront aussi en nombre dans l’ordinateur de Chérif Kouachi.
    À cette époque, Kouachi et Coulibaly sont déjà les rouages d’un réseau bien rodé.« Djamel Beghal est le chef d’une cellule opérationnelle d’obédience “takfir” (nom d’une secte salafiste – ndlr) », résume ainsi un commandant de la SDAT dans un rapport de synthèse du 21 mai 2010. « Fédérés autour de donneurs d’ordres appartenant au mouvement takfir, les membres du réseau terroriste mis au jour par les investigations sont, pour la plupart d’entre eux, des malfaiteurs chevronnés, convertis à l’islam lors de séjours en prison », poursuit le policier, qui évoque « l’élaboration d’un projet terroriste dont le but était de procéder à l’évasion des frères incarcérés et dont la finalité était la commission d’une action de plus grande ampleur ».
    « Je suis venu vous apporter le carnage »
    La première étape consiste à fomenter l’évasion de Smaïn Aït Ali Belkacem, « la tête de réseau », et d’un autre militant islamiste, de la prison de Clairvaux (Aube), ainsi qu’à organiser la fuite de Djamel Beghal, alias “Abou Hamza”, alors assigné à résidence à Murat (Cantal). L’objectif final vise, selon la SDAT, « la réalisation d’une action terroriste de grande ampleur ». Cela ressort très clairement d’une conversation téléphonique entre Belkacem et Beghal, interceptée par la police le 22 avril 2010, à 12 h 22. « Moi, j’ai deux choses auxquelles je pense depuis longtemps. Une chose que je prépare pierre par pierre depuis des années pour pouvoir donner un bon coup après, comme on dit “parce qu’un coup avec une pioche vaut mieux que dix coups avec une binette”. Ça demande du temps car ce n’est pas une plaisanterie. Ce n’est pas un jeu », confiait Beghal.
    Photo de surveillance policière de 2010 de Chérif Kouachi avec Djamel Beghal
    Photo de surveillance policière de 2010 de Chérif Kouachi avec Djamel Beghal © DR
    Dans un courrier saisi, un autre membre du réseau, Fouad Bassim, écrit à un complice :« Fais ce qu’il faut pour m’aider à sortir et cette fois-ci, ce sera sans pitié dehors. »Condamné à huit ans de prison fin 2013, Bassim est actuellement en fuite, sous le coup d’un mandat d’arrêt.
    Le mystère de ce dossier de 2010 reste la découverte de recettes de poison (du cyanure obtenu à partir de pépins de pomme) dans la cellule de Belkacem. L’expert en toxicologie mandaté par la justice avait confirmé, selon le jugement du tribunal de grande instance de Paris, « l’efficience du mode opératoire décrit dans les recettes ainsi que le caractère potentiellement létal du produit obtenu ». « Le plus redoutable serait de contaminer avec ce liquide un réseau d’adduction d’eau ou un circuit de fabrication alimentaire, ce qui pourrait rendre malades un grand nombre d’individus », pouvait-on encore lire dans le texte de jugement.
    Les enquêteurs n’ont cependant pas pu corroborer l’existence d’un projet d’attaque plus concret à l’aide de ce poison. En revanche, le réseau n’a pas ménagé sa peine pour acheter des armes en Belgique et préparer activement les évasions des leaders islamistes. Un mot manuscrit trouvé chez un membre de la cellule, adressé à un complice, signale :« On a besoin de deux kalachs, de deux calibres, dix grenades. Essaye de faire au plus vite car on en a besoin. C’est à toi de parler avec le frère qui vend les armes. Mon frère ne connaît rien, alors négocie un prix bas. »
    Même s’il a bénéficié d’un non-lieu, la justice ayant estimé n’avoir « pas assez d’éléments démontrant son implication » dans les projets d’évasion, Chérif Kouachi est cependant apparu au fil de l’enquête comme un membre actif du réseau. Étroitement surveillé par les policiers en avril 2010, il a rejoint Djamel Beghal dans le Cantal pendant une semaine, accompagné de deux autres islamistes déjà condamnés pour des faits de terrorisme.
    Lors de ses onze auditions en mai 2010 par les policiers, Kouachi s’est montré obstinément mutique. « L’intéressé garde le silence et fixe le sol », ont noté jusqu’à l’agacement les enquêteurs de la SDAT. « Avez-vous conscience que votre refus à tout dialogue avec nous, y compris sur les choses les plus anodines, le refus d’effectuer une page d’écriture, le refus de regarder les photos qui vous sont présentées, le refus de vous alimenter, relève d’un comportement typique et habituellement constaté chez les individus fortement endoctrinés et appartenant à une organisation structurée ayant bénéficié de consignes à suivre durant une garde à vue ? », ont fait remarquer les policiers au futur auteur du massacre de Charlie Hebdo.
    Les archives informatiques de Kouachi, elles, ont été plus bavardes. De nombreux textes – la plupart anonymes –, découverts dans son ordinateur ou sur des clés USB, témoignent d’un enrôlement djihadiste structuré. Il s’agit la plupart du temps de textes sur des opérations martyres et la conduite à tenir. Tous ont été téléchargés en 2009.
    L’un d’entre eux, baptisé Opérations sacrifices, décrit un modus operandi qui n’est pas sans rappeler l’attentat contre Charlie Hebdo. « Un moudjahid (combattant – ndlr) entre par effraction dans la caserne de l’ennemi ou une zone de groupement et tire à bout portant sans avoir préparé un plan de fuite ni avoir pensé à la fuite. L’objectif est de tuer le plus d’ennemis possibles. L’auteur mourra très probablement », peut-on lire. Puis :« Le mot “attentat-suicide” que certains utilisent n’est pas exact. Ce sont les juifs qui ont choisi ce mot pour dissuader les gens d’y recourir (…). Quant aux effets de ces opérations sur l’ennemi, nous avons constaté au cours de notre expérience qu’aucune autre technique ne produisait autant d’effroi et n’ébranlait autant l’esprit. »
    Un autre texte, intitulé Le Prophète de la Terreur, commence par ces mots : « Je suis venu vous apporter le carnage. » Habillé de références religieuses, le texte est en réalité un appel au terrorisme : « Le Coran parle de se préparer le plus que l’on peut à terroriser l’ennemi. » Mieux encore : « horrifier l’ennemi », souhaite-t-il.
    Un ouvrage de l’imam salafiste jordanien Abou Mohamed al-Maqdisi développe quant à lui des « séries de conseils sur la sécurité et la prévention » à l’attention des militants radicaux. Exemple : « Il n’est pas indispensable dans la plupart des circonstances, pour un financeur, de savoir quand et où l’opération aura lieu, ni par quelles mains. De même, pour ceux qui vont exécuter le stade final de l’opération (c’est-à-dire le pirate de l’air, le kidnappeur, celui qui se sacrifie, l’assassin, etc.), il n’est pas indispensable pour eux de savoir qui finance la cellule ou le groupe. »
    Si aucun document trouvé en 2010 chez Kouachi n’évoque l’affaire des caricatures de Mahomet, un long texte intitulé Déviances et incohérences chez les prêcheurs de la décadence évoque la fatwa « pleinement justifiée » contre l’écrivain Salman Rushdie –« Qu’Allah le maudisse ! », est-il précisé –, ou le Français Michel Houellebecq, désigné comme une « loque humaine », qui « se permet dans un de ses torchons de dire que la religion la plus con, c’est l’islam ». Le texte s’en prend aussi aux « scribouilleurs malhonnêtes (à savoir les journalistes) » et assure que « dans les sociétés mécréantes, le péché est la norme et le blasphème un divertissement sadique ».
    L’enquête de 2010 sur la cellule Beghal avait clairement montré que ses membres étaient déterminés à passer à l’attaque. Un proche de Kouachi et Coulibaly, un certain Teddy Valcy, alias “Djamil” (condamné à 9 ans en 2013), avait été arrêté en possession d’une kalachnikov, avec un chargeur engagé contenant vingt-deux cartouches. « Cette arme m’appartient et je n’aurais pas hésité à l’utiliser contre vous si j’en avais eu le temps », avait-il déclaré aux policiers au moment de son interpellation.
    Dans une vidéo enregistrée sur son téléphone portable en avril 2010, il apparaît vêtu d’une djellaba, portant son fusil-mitrailleur à l’épaule. Il prononce alors un discours de guerre : « Il est venu le temps où il faut agir. La communauté musulmane est en danger (…). La dignité des musulmans est bafouée. Nous n’avons pas d’autres solutions que de prendre les armes pour défendre notre communauté. Je vous exhorte à prendre les armes le plus vite possible, avec une très grande détermination, et n’oubliez pas la récompense du martyr (…). On nous appelle “terroristes” mais le mot est faible parce qu’on doit vraiment plus les terroriser, les ennemis, les infidèles. Il n’y a pas de discussion avec eux. » Les 7, 8 et 9 janvier 2015, une partie du réseau Beghal a répondu à l’appel.
    FABRICE ARFI ET KARL LASKE – mediapart.fr

    Find this story at 10 January 2015

    Copyright http://www.mediapart.fr/

    Limoges : suicide d’un commissaire de police

    A peine plus d’un an après qu’il ne découvre le corps sans vie du numéro 3 du SRPJ de Limoges, le numéro 2 du service s’est donné la mort hier sur son lieu de travail avec son arme de service.

    On l’a appris ce matin, un commissaire du SRPJ de Limoges s’est donné la mort la nuit dernière dans son bureau avec son arme de service. Une information confirmée par sa hiérarchie. On ignore à cette heure les raisons de son geste.

    Il se serait donné la mort cette nuit à 1 heure.

    Le commissaire Helric Fredou âgé de 45 ans était originaire de Limoges avait débuté sa carrière en 1997 comme officier de police judiciaire à la direction régionale de la police judiciaire de Versailles, avant de revenir à Limoges. Il était directeur adjoint du service régional de police judiciaire depuis 2012. Son père était un ancien policier, sa mère était cadre infirmière aux urgences de CHU de Limoges. Il était célibataire et n’avait pas d’enfant.

    Selon le syndicat de la police le commissaire était dépressif et en situation de burn out.

    En novembre 2013, le commissaire Fredou avait découvert le corps sans vie de son collègue, numéro 3 du SRPJ de Limoges qui s’était également suicidé avec son arme de service dans son bureau. Il avait lui aussi 44 ans.

    Le commissaire Fredou, comme tous les agents du SRPJ travaillait hier soir sur l’affaire de la tuerie au siège de Charlie Hebdo. Il avait notamment enquêté auprès de la famille de l’une des victimes. Il s’est tué avant même de remettre son rapport.

    Une cellule psychologique est mise en place au sein du commissariat.

    Par Cécile GauthierPublié le 08/01/2015 | 11:24, mis à jour le 14/01/2015 | 15:28

    Find this story at 14 January 2015

    © 2015 France Télévisions

    Police Commissioner Involved in Charlie Hebdo Investigation “Commits Suicide”. Total News Blackout

    Police Commissioner Helric Fredou, Number Two Police Officer of the Regional Service of France’s Judicial Police (JP), Limoges, (Haute-Vienne), “committed suicide on the night of Wednesday to Thursday at the police station.”

    Commissioner Helric Fredou was part of the police investigation into the Charlie Hebdo terror attack.

    Terror suspects Cherif and Said Kouachi who were shot dead by police on January 9, spent their high-school years in the Limoges region. No doubt this was the object of Fredou’s police investigation. Yet police and media reports state that on that same Wednesday he was involved in a meeting with the family of one of the Charlie Hebdo victims.

    On Wednesday, as part of the Charlie Hebdo investigation, he dispatched a team of police officials under his jurisdiction. He is reported to have waited for the return of his team for a debriefing. Immediately following the police debriefing, he was involved in preparing his police report.

    According to media reports, he committed suicide at around 1am on Thursday, within hours of the police debriefing. He used his own police weapon, a SIG-Sauer to “shoot himself in the head”.

    At the time of his death, police claim to have not known the reason for his alleged suicide. This was reflected in their official statements to the media: “It is unknown at this time the reasons for his actions”.

    However, a back story appears to have been inserted simultaneously, most likely from the very same police media liaisons, who then told the press that Fredou was ‘depressed and overworked’. For any law enforcement officer in France, it would seem rather odd that anyone would want to miss the biggest single terror event of the century, or history in the making, as it were. (21st Century Wire,)

    ”An autopsy was performed at the University Hospital of Limoges, “confirming the suicide”

    There has been a total news blackout.

    The French media decided or was instructed not to cover the incident. Not news worthy? So much for “Je suis Charlie” and ”Freedom of Expression” in journalism.

    Likewise, the Western media including all major news services (AP, AFP, Reuters, Deutsche Welle, etc) have not covered the issue.

    One isolated report in Le Parisien presents the act of suicide as being totally unrelated to the Charlie Hebdo investigation.

    While described as being depressive and suffering from a burnout, police reports state that Helric Fredou’s suicide was totally unexpected.

    Moreover, it is worth noting that, according to reports, he committed suicide in his workplace, in his office at the police station.

    Did he commit suicide? Was he incited to commit suicide?

    Or was he an “honest Cop” executed on orders of France’s judicial police?

    Has his report been released?

    These are issues for France’s journalists to address. It’s called investigative reporting. Or is it outright media censorship?

    By Prof Michel Chossudovsky
    Global Research, January 11, 2015

    Find this story at 11 January 2015

    Copyright © 2005-2015 GlobalResearch.ca


    In the days since the siege at the Paris magazine Charlie Hebdo, the press and social media sites have been consumed with the possible answers to one question: Beyond the two shooters, Said and Cherif Kouachi, who is responsible for the attack that killed 12 people at the magazine’s offices?

    On Friday, shortly after the gunmen were killed by French forces in a raid on a printing plant outside of Paris, a source from within al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) provided The Intercept with a series of messages and statements taking responsibility for the attacks, asserting that AQAP’s leadership “directed” the raid on the magazine to avenge the honor of the Prophet Mohammed.

    Moments after The Intercept published these statements, an AQAP official, Bakhsaruf al-Danqaluh tweeted, in Arabic, the exact paragraphs the AQAP source provided us. Within an hour of that, AQAP’s senior cleric, Sheikh Harith bin Ghazi al-Nadhari, released an audio statement through AQAP’s official media wing, praising the attack. “Some of the sons of France showed a lack of manners with Allah’s messengers, so a band of Allah’s believing army rose against them, and they taught them the proper manners, and the limits of freedom of speech,” Nadhari declared. “How can we not fight the ones that attacked the Prophet and attacked the religion and fought the believers?” While heaping passionate praise on the attack on Charlie Hebdo, Nadhari stopped short of making any claim that AQAP directed or was in any way involved with the planning.

    Historically, when AQAP has taken credit for attacks, it has used al Qaeda central’s al-Fajr Media to distribute statements and video or audio recordings through the AQAP media outlet al-Malahim to a variety of jihadist forums. But over the past year, AQAP has broadened its distribution strategy and has begun using Twitter and other social media sites. While AQAP continues to use al-Malahim, “the vast majority if not all of the releases are now released onto Twitter first via authenticated Twitter accounts that have become the first point of release,” says Aaron Zelin, an expert on al Qaeda and other militant groups and a senior fellow at the Washington Institute. “This has been the case ever since late July 2014, though AQAP had been making a slow transition going all the way back to early 2014.” Zelin’s analysis of this new distribution strategy tracks with how AQAP sources began to assert responsibility for the Paris attacks last week, with the one caveat being that an AQAP source provided the tweets in advance to a media outlet, The Intercept.

    In the past, AQAP publicly took responsibility through its official media and communication channels. None of that has happened yet in the case of the Kouachi brothers’ Paris attack.

    [Update: On Wednesday, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula officially claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack in a statement issued by its media arm. The statement declared that the attack was in retaliation for the magazine’s depictions of the prophet Mohammed in its cartoons. It called the simultaneous assault on the Kosher grocery story by Amedy Coulibaly a coincidence because of the men’s relationships with each other and said it was not the result of AQAP’s coordination with rival group Islamic State.]

    For example, soon after the failed 2009 Christmas Day bomb plot, in which a suicide bomber on a Northwest Airlines flight tried unsuccessfully to set off plastic explosives sewn into his underwear, AQAP posted a web statement praising perpetrator Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as a hero who had “penetrated all modern and sophisticated technology and devices and security barriers in airports of the world” and “reached his target.” The statement boasted that the “mujahedeen brothers in the manufacturing department” made the device and that it did not detonate due to a “technical error.” Four months after the attempted attack, AQAP released a video showing Abdulmutallab, armed with a Kalashnikov and wearing a keffiyeh, at a desert training camp in Yemen. In the video, masked men conducted live-ammunition training. One scene showed AQAP operatives firing at a drone flying overhead. At the end of the video, Abdulmutallab read a martyrdom statement in Arabic. “You brotherhood of Muslims in the Arabian Peninsula have the right to wage jihad because the enemy is in your land,” he said, sitting before a flag and a rifle and dressed in white. “God said if you do not fight back, he will punish you and replace you.”

    In analyzing AQAP’s potential role in the Paris attack, it’s worth remembering the four-month delay between the group praising the 2009 underwear plot and the group releasing evidence it actually orchestrated the act. Short of such video or photographic documentation, and even with an official statement from AQAP’s leadership, it would be difficult to prove that AQAP indeed sponsored the raid on Charlie Hebdo.

    Even if AQAP did not “direct” the attack, there is seemingly credible information emerging to prove that at least one — and potentially both — of the Kouachi brothers spent time with AQAP in Yemen. Said Kouachi reportedly made multiple trips to Yemen from 2009 to 2012 and spent time at Sana’a’s Iman University, which was founded by radical preacher Abdel Majid al-Zindani. The French magazine L’Express reported that French intelligence sources claim that Said Kouachi crossed into Yemen from Oman along with another unidentified French citizen in the summer of 2011. Reuters, meanwhile, reports that both Kouachi brothers received weapons training from AQAP in Yemen’s Marib province, an al Qaeda stronghold, citing two anonymous Yemeni officials.

    Earlier, Mohammed Albasha, the Yemeni government’s spokesperson in Washington D.C. urged caution in placing too much weight on such assertions. On Friday, he tweeted:

    On the day of the attack in Paris, Cherif Kouachi reportedly told a French journalist that he and his brother were acting on behalf of AQAP and that their travel to Yemen was financed by Anwar al Awlaki, the U.S.-born radical cleric who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in northern Yemen in September 2011. “I just want to tell you that we are defenders of the Prophet. I, Cherif Kouachi, was sent by al-Qaeda in Yemen. I was over there. I was financed by Imam Anwar al-Awlaki,” he said.

    A witness to the magazine shooting claimed one of the men shouted during the assault, “You can tell the media that it’s al Qaeda in Yemen.” None of these allegations, in and of themselves, prove that AQAP sponsored or directed the attacks, but the allegations do raise the prospect that, at a minimum, AQAP may have played a role in preparing the brothers for action. As I noted in my previous piece, since 2010 AQAP has publicly promoted a campaign calling on Muslims in Western countries, including France, to assassinate cartoonists who draw the prophet Mohammed, particularly those who do so in what is perceived as an insulting and demeaning manner. Awlaki himself penned an article for the first issue of the al Qaeda magazine Inspire in June 2010 making that direct call and providing a list of suggested targets, including a U.S. citizen in Seattle, Washington.

    The suspect in the shooting at the kosher market in Paris, Amedy Coulibaly, reportedly had a relationship to the Kouachi brothers going back to at least 2010. In a purported martyr video released after he was killed by French forces on Friday, Coulibaly claims he worked in conspiracy with the brothers to produce Friday’s bloodbath. To complicate matters further, he stated in the video that he had made an oath of loyalty to the head of the Islamic State, ISIS, and the self-proclaimed Caliph. “I am pledging my allegiance to the Caliph of the Muslims, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi,” Coulibaly said. “I have made a declaration of allegiance to the Caliph and the declaration of a Caliphate.” He also claimed he had coordinated his attack with the Kouachi brothers, though no evidence of this has emerged. “We did things a bit together and a bit apart, so that it’d have more impact,” he said.

    Last Friday, during a sermon in the ISIS stronghold of Mosul, Iraq, a leading ISIS cleric declared that his group was behind the Paris attacks. “We started with the France operation for which we take responsibility. Tomorrow will be in Britain, America and others,” said Abu Saad al-Ansari. “This is a message to all countries participating in the [U.S.-led] coalition that has killed Islamic State members.”

    AQAP and ISIS have been engaged in a very public and bitter feud on social media and through official communications for the past year. While not impossible, it is unlikely that AQAP and ISIS at a high level agreed to cooperate on such a mission. An AQAP source told me that the group supports what Coulibaly did and that it does not matter what group — if any — assisted him, just that he was a Muslim who took the action. ISIS, clearly seeking to capitalize on the events in Paris, has now reportedly issued a call for its supporters to attack police forces. Of course, it is also plausible that all three of the men received some degree of outside help, but created their own cells to plot the Paris attacks. Whether Coulibaly was actually working with the Kouachi brothers or was inspired by their attack is also unknown.

    For now, we have little more than verified statements from an AQAP source, a claim of responsibility from an ISIS figure and words of praise from both ISIS and some key AQAP figures. Taking responsibility for the attacks, whether true or not, could aid either group in fundraising and in elevating its prominence in the broader jihadist movement globally.

    The Truth About Anwar Awlaki

    Over the weekend, Anwar Awlaki’s name has once again been splashed on the front page of newspapers and his image and videos have again been referenced in international television coverage. There are two primary reasons for this: the purported Cherif Kouachi statement quoted above that Awlaki had financed a trip to Yemen, and a statement given by an anonymous Yemeni intelligence official to Reuters, asserting that Said Kouachi met with Awlaki in Shebwah province in Yemen at some point in 2011. AQAP has not confirmed either alleged link to Awlaki. This is another situation that would require more documentation, such as photos of either or both of the Kouachi brothers with Awlaki.

    Whatever potential relationship Awlaki had to the Kouachi brothers, the media coverage of Awlaki’s history has been riddled with inaccuracies, exaggerations of his role within AQAP and passing of anonymous US government pronouncements as facts. There is no doubt that Anwar Awlaki very publicly called on Muslims in Western countries to conduct attacks in the U.S. and Europe or to travel to Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere to fight jihad. Awlaki very publicly called for the assassination of cartoonists and others who he saw as disgracing the Prophet Mohammed. But Awlaki was never the “leader” of AQAP, and the title bestowed on him by President Obama in announcing Awlaki’s death — head of external operations — was created by the U.S., not AQAP. In fact, when the actual leader of AQAP, Nasir al Wuhayshi, wrote to Osama bin Laden in 2010, asking for his blessing to put Awlaki in charge of the group, Bin Laden shot it down.

    [Editor’s Note: Some of the reporting in this story is drawn from author Jeremy Scahill’s book, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield.”]

    On August 27, 2010, Bin Laden ordered his deputy Shaykh Mahmud, also known as Atiya Abdul Rahman, to relay a message to Wuhayshi. Bin Laden seemed to view Awlaki as an ally and a potentially valuable asset to al Qaeda’s goals. The problem, Bin Laden explained, was that Awlaki was an unknown quantity to al Qaeda central, a man who had yet to prove his mettle in actual jihad. “The presence of some of the characteristics by our brother Anwar…is a good thing, in order to serve Jihad,” Bin Laden wrote, adding that he wanted “a chance to be introduced to him more.” Bin Laden explained, “Over here, we are generally assured after people go to the battlefield and are tested there.” He asked Wuhayshi for “the resumé, in detail and lengthy, of the brother Anwar al-Awlaki,” as well as a written statement from Awlaki himself explaining his “vision in detail.” Wuhayshi, Bin Laden asserted, should “remain in his position where he is qualified and capable of running the matter in Yemen.”

    An Awlaki Myth

    None of this is to say that Awlaki was not involved with direct plotting of acts of terrorism, but that there has been no actual evidence produced to support the claim. Awlaki’s assassination was ordered by President Obama despite the fact that Awlaki was not officially indicted by the U.S. on any charges of terrorism. His case was litigated by anonymous US officials in the media and his death warrant signed in secret by the U.S. president.

    It is often asserted as fact that Awlaki directed or encouraged U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan to carry out the massacre at Fort Hood, Texas in November 2009. But the actual evidence to support this does not exist. Awlaki did indeed email with Hassan, but those emails read like Hassan was a fanboy and Awlaki was politely dismissing him. Awlaki did, after the fact, praise Hasan’s actions, but he denied any claim of direct involvement. It would be uncharacteristic of Awlaki — given his public calls for such actions — to deny a role he would have been proud of playing.

    Soon after the [Fort Hood] shooting, the media began reporting that Hasan had been in contact with Awlaki, adding that Hasan had attended Awlaki’s Virginia mosque in 2001, though the fact that Awlaki had only met him once was not reported. That the two men exchanged at least eighteen e-mails beginning in December 2008 became a major focus of attention and hype from journalists and politicians. But when U.S. officials reviewed the emails, they determined them to be innocuous. According to The New York Times, “a counterterrorism analyst who examined the messages shortly after they were sent decided that they were consistent with authorized research Major Hasan was conducting and did not alert his military superiors.” Awlaki later told a Yemeni journalist that Hasan had reached out to him and primarily asked him religious questions. Awlaki claimed he neither “ordered nor pressured” Hasan to carry out any attacks, a contention supported by the emails once they were made public. But Awlaki’s reaction to the shooting made such details irrelevant in the eyes of the U.S. public and government.

    A few days after the Fort Hood shootings, Awlaki published a blog post with the not-so-subtle title: “Nidal Hasan Did the Right Thing.” Hasan, Awlaki wrote, “is a hero. He is a man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people. This is a contradiction that many Muslims brush aside and just pretend that it doesn’t exist.” Hasan “opened fire on soldiers who were on their way to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. How can there be any dispute about the virtue of what he has done? In fact the only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the U.S. Army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal.” Awlaki called on other Muslims within the U.S. Army to carry out similar operations. “Nidal Hasan was not recruited by Al-Qaida,” Awlaki later said. “Nidal Hasan was recruited by American crimes, and this is what America refuses to admit.”

    Terrorism analysts and journalists often mention that Awlaki had contact with three of the 9/11 hijackers and, at times, imply he had foreknowledge of the plot. Awlaki was the imam at two large mosques, one in San Diego and later at one in Falls Church, Virginia. Three of the men, at various points did indeed attend those mosques, but the 9/11 Commission asserted that the future hijackers “respected Awlaki as a religious figure and developed a close relationship with him” but added that “the evidence is thin as to specific motivations.” What is seldom mentioned is that soon after 9/11, on February 5, 2002, Awlaki also met with Pentagon employees inside the Department of Defense when he was officially invited to lecture at the DoD. After being vetted for security, Awlaki “was invited to and attended a luncheon at the Pentagon in the secretary of the Army’s Office of Government Counsel.” (It is unlikely Awlaki dined on the “East Side West Side” sandwich offered at the event, which included beef, turkey and bacon on marbled rye).

    Awlaki is also frequently mentioned as the mastermind of the 2009 underwear bomb plot. But, again, this is far from a proven fact. Awlaki’s role in the “underwear plot” was unclear. After the failed bombing, Awlaki claimed that Abdulmutallab was one of his “students.” Tribal sources in Shabwah province told me that al Qaeda operatives reached out to Awlaki to give religious counseling to Abdulmutallab, but that Awlaki was not involved in the plot. While praising the attack, Awlaki said he had not been involved with its conception or planning. “Yes, there was some contact between me and him, but I did not issue a fatwa allowing him to carry out this operation,” Awlaki told Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye in an interview for Al Jazeera a few weeks after the attempted attack: “I support what Umar Farouk has done after I have been seeing my brothers being killed in Palestine for more than sixty years, and others being killed in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And in my tribe too, U.S. missiles have killed” women and “children, so do not ask me if al-Qaeda has killed or blown up a U.S. civil[ian] jet after all this. The 300 Americans are nothing comparing to the thousands of Muslims who have been killed.”

    Shaye pressed Awlaki on his defense of the attempted downing of the plane, pointing out to Awlaki that it was a civilian airliner. “You have supported Nidal Malik Hasan and justified his act by saying that his target was a military not a civilian one. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s plane was a civilian one, which means the target was the U.S. public?” Shaye pressed him. “It would have been better if the plane was a military one or if it was a U.S. military target,” Awlaki replied. But, he added:

    “The American people live [in] a democratic system and that is why they are held responsible for their policies. The American people are the ones who have voted twice for Bush the criminal and elected Obama, who is not different from Bush as his first remarks stated that he would not abandon Israel, despite the fact that there were other antiwar candidates in the U.S. elections, but they won very few votes. The American people take part in all its government’s crimes. If they oppose that, let them change their government. They pay the taxes which are spent on the army and they send their sons to the military, and that is why they bear responsibility.”

    The U.S. government continues to maintain that Awlaki personally directed the Christmas Day bomb plot. Its source for that is an alleged confession given to investigators by Abdulmutallab immediately after he was apprehended. But that confession has serious problems. Marcy Wheeler, an independent journalist who has scrutinized this case more extensively than any other journalist, has written several analyses of this case. “Abdulmutallab gave 3 ‘confessions,’” Wheeler told me. “The first on December 25, 2009, after he was captured. In that he attributed all his direction to ‘Abu Tarak,’ which [the] DOJ would later claim was just a pseudonym for Awlaki, which is impossible.” In Yemen, I asked many sources close to Awlaki if they had ever heard this nickname used or given to Awlaki. None had.

    The second confession started on January 29, 2010 with the High Value detainee Intelligence Group established by President Obama in late 2009. Abdulmutallab’s lawyer claimed the HIG interrogated his client after he had been held in solitary confinement. “Within days, he implicated Awlaki in everything, including making a martyrdom video with AQ’s greatest English propagandist in Arabic, and final instructions,” Wheeler adds. “The prosecution willingly agreed not to rely on this confession after the defense said it had been made in conjunction with plea discussions.”

    The final confession, Wheeler says, was on October 12, 2011. Abdulmutallab publicly plead guilty to conspiracy and other charges. No one else, including U.S. citizen Awlaki was charged in the alleged conspiracy. “In that plea, Abdulmutallab attributed earlier propaganda from Awlaki as an inspiration, but Abdulmutallab did not implicate Awlaki or anyone else as his co-conspirators,” says Wheeler. “In other words, Abdulmutallab confessed three times. In only one of those confessions did he implicate Awlaki, and that confession was the only one not presented at ‘trial.’” Instead it was used in Abdulmutallab’s sentencing.

    Intercept reporter Ryan Devereaux contributed research to this article.

    Correction: This story incorrectly described the occupational breakdown of the people killed in the Charlie Hebdo attack. Most, but not all, of the victims were media workers. 9:26pm ET Jan 12 2014

    Email the author: jeremy.scahill@theintercept.com

    BY JEREMY SCAHILL @jeremyscahill 01/12/2015

    Find this story at 12 January 2015


    Frères Kouachi: révélations au Yémen

    Les investigations se concentrent sur ce pays de la péninsule arabique. Saïd Kouachi y aurait séjourné pendant deux semaines après son arrivée à Oman le 25 juillet 2011. Ce qui a justifié sa surveillance par la DGSI entre novembre 2011 et juin 2014.

    Et si la clef du “11 septembre français” se trouvait à 5 000 kilomètres de distance de Paris, au coeur des montagnes de la péninsule arabique, au Yémen? Les enquêteurs français et américains tournent désormais leur regard vers ce pays de 24 millions d’habitants, devenu depuis le début des années 2000 l’un des creusets du djihadisme international. Et pas seulement parce que Al Qaeda dans la péninsule arabique (Aqpa) s’est félicitée des attaques menées à Paris entre le 7 et le 9 janvier.

    Au moins l’un des deux frères Kouachi, auteurs de la fusillade au magazine Charlie-Hebdo (12 morts), a effectué un séjour au Yémen. Selon nos informations, Saïd Kouachi a en effet été repéré à Oman, le 25 juillet 2011. Il se trouvait en compagnie d’un autre homme qui, selon les autorités françaises, n’est pas son frère Chérif. Les deux passagers auraient pris un vol retour à destination de la France trois semaines plus tard, le 15 août précisément. Qu’ont-ils fait pendant ces trois semaines au Moyen-Orient?

    Entraînement au tir entre frères?
    Des sources officielles yéménites viennent d’affirmer à l’agence Reuters, contrairement à la version de Paris, que Saïd était en fait accompagné de son frère Chérif. Les deux hommes seraient passés clandestinement au Yémen où ils seraient restés deux semaines. “Ils ont rencontré Anwar al-Awlaki (prédicateur d’Al Qaeda dans la péninsule arabique) et ensuite ils ont été entraînés pendant trois jours au tir dans le désert de Marib”, ont confié ces sources. Si cette information est vérifiée, qu’en savaient au juste les services français? De la réponse à cette question dépendra l’ampleur de la polémique sur les failles constatées dans le bouclier antiterroriste.

    Une chose est sûre. Washington a bien transmis à Paris une information essentielle à la fin du mois de novembre 2011 portant sur le passage de Saïd Kouachi à Oman. Côté français, on certifie que ce renseignement américain ne donnait pas la preuve d’un entraînement dans les rangs djihadistes. Mais il existait cependant une forte probalité car un ex-membre de la “filière dite des Buttes-Chaumont” (dans laquelle apparaissent les frères Kouachi dès 2004) avait trouvé refuge dans ce pays pour rejoindre Al Qaeda.

    Le voyage éventuel de Chérif Kouachi fait l’objet de versions discordantes au sein des autorités françaises. Le procureur de la République à Paris, François Molins, a confirmé son existence lors de sa conférence de presse vendredi 9 janvier au soir. L’information viendrait en fait du témoignage de l’épouse de Chérif Kouachi, recueilli par la police judiciaire. Celle-ci aurait en effet confié aux enquêteurs que son mari s’était rendu à Oman, en compagnie de Saïd, à l’été 2011. Cette version a cependant été fermemement démentie par son avocat, Me Christian Saint-Palais. Selon lui, sa cliente aurait bien reconnu que Chérif Kouachi avait effectué des voyages, mais il ne lui en aurait jamais dit, ni la destination, ni le but.

    Une longue surveillance jusqu’à l’été 2014
    Quoi qu’il en soit, cette alerte américaine motive alors le lancement d’une surveillance sur les frères Kouachi par la DGSI (contre-terrorisme). Saïd fait l’objet d’une fiche de “mise en attention” dite “fiche S”, dès la fin du mois de novembre 2011. Les téléphones portables des deux frères sont “branchés”. Cette surveillance sera particulièrement longue, alternée entre la DGSI et la PJ, les écoutes administratives étant renouvelées tous les quatre mois. Chérif, lui, aurait été écouté moins longtemps jusqu’à la fin de 2013, faute d’accord sur le renouvellement des autorisations.

    Les conversations de Chérif au téléphone et de ses fréquentations semblent montrer qu’il se lance alors dans la contrefaçon de vêtements et de chaussures de sport. Pour les policiers, il sort du spectre terroriste, semblant entrer dans celui de la petite délinquance. Aucun signe de dangerosité n’est détecté. Si bien qu’en juin 2014, la surveillance des Kouachi est définitivement levée. La police passe à d’autres suspects. Sept mois plus tard, les frères font irruption dans la salle de rédaction de Charlie Hebdo.

    Par Eric Pelletier , Pascal Ceauxpublié le 10/01/2015 à 20:41, mis à jour le 14/01/2015 à 10:03

    Find this story at 14 January 2015

    © L’Express

    NYT reporters parrot unsubstantiated statements from U.S. counterterrorism officials. What’s new?

    A report in the New York Times claims in its opening paragraph:

    The younger of the two brothers who killed 12 people in Paris last week most likely used his older brother’s passport in 2011 to travel to Yemen, where he received training and $20,000 from Al Qaeda’s affiliate there, presumably to finance attacks when he returned home to France.

    The source of that information is presumably the American counterterrorism officials referred to in the second paragraph.

    Reporters Eric Schmitt and Mark Mazzetti, too busy scribbling their notes, apparently didn’t bother asking these officials how they identified the money trail.

    That’s an important question, because an alternative money trail has already been reported that has no apparent connection to AQAP.

    French media have reported that Amedy Coulibaly — who in a video declared his affiliation with ISIS — purchased the weapons, used both by him and the Kouachi brothers, from an arms dealer in Brussels and that he paid for these with:

    a standard loan of 6,000 euros ($7,050) that Coulibaly took out on December 4 from the French financial-services firm Cofidis. He used his real name but falsely stated his monthly income on the loan declaration, a statement the company didn’t bother to check, the reports say.

    Whereas the New York Times reports receipt of the money and its amount as fact, CNN — no doubt briefed by the same officials — makes it somewhat clearer that this information is quite speculative:

    U.S. officials have told CNN it’s believed that when Cherif Kouachi traveled to Yemen in 2011, he returned carrying money from AQAP earmarked to carry out the attack. Investigators said the terrorist group could have given as much as $20,000, but the exact amount has not been verified. [Emphasis mine.]

    This isn’t a money trail — it’s speculation. And even if AQAP did put up some seed capital, that was four years ago. In the intervening period, the gunmen seem to have been busy engaged in their own entrepreneurial efforts:

    Former drug-dealing associates of Coulibaly told AP he was selling marijuana and hashish in the Paris suburbs as recently as a month ago. Multiple French news accounts have said the Kouachi brothers sold knockoff sporting goods made in China.

    Another gaping hole in the NYT report is its failure to analyze the AQAP videos — there were two.

    The first video, released on January 9, praised the attacks but made no claim of responsibility. Were its makers restrained by their own modesty? The second video, which does claim that AQAP funded and directed the operation, provides no evidence to support these claims.

    The top spokesman for the Yemen branch of al-Qaida publicly took credit Wednesday for the bloody attack on a French satirical newspaper, confirming a statement that had been emailed to reporters last week.

    But the 11-minute video provided no hard evidence for its claims, including that the operation had been arranged by the American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki directly with the two brothers who carried it out before Awlaki was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2011.

    The video includes frames showing Awlaki but none of him with the brothers, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, nor any images of the Kouachis that haven’t been shown on Western news broadcasts for days.

    So it seems premature for the New York Times to start talking about how the attacks might:

    serve as a reminder of the continued danger from the group [AQAP] at a time when much of the attention of Europe and the United States has shifted to the Islamic State, the militant organization that controls large swaths of Syria and Iraq and has become notorious for beheading hostages.

    The NYT report also makes a claim that I have not seen elsewhere:

    In repeated statements before they were killed by the police, the Kouachi brothers said they had carried out the attack on behalf of the Qaeda branch in Yemen, saying it was in part to avenge the death of Mr. Awlaki.

    Are we to suppose that Awlaki was funding an operation to avenge his own death before he had been killed?

    Based on the information that has been reported so far — and obviously, new information might significantly change this picture — the evidence seems to lean fairly strongly in the direction that the Paris attacks should be seen to have been inspired rather than directed by Al Qaeda.

    And to the extent that Anwar al-Awlaki played a pivotal role in these attacks, the lesson — a lesson that should be reflected on by President Obama and the commanders of future drone strikes — is that Awlaki’s capacity to inspire terrorist attacks seems to be just as strong now as it was when he was alive.

    Indeed, the mixed messages coming from AQAP might reflect an internal debate on whether it can wield more power as an inspirational force or alternatively needs to sustain the perception that it retains control over operations carried out in its name.


    Find this story at 15 January 2015

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