SECRET RULES MAKE IT PRETTY EASY FOR THE FBI TO SPY ON JOURNALISTS

Rules governing the use of national security letters allow the FBI to obtain information about journalists’ calls without going to a judge or informing the targeted news organization.

President Trump has inherited a vast domestic intelligence agency with extraordinary secret powers. A cache of documents offers a rare window into the FBI’s quiet expansion since 9/11.

This story was originally published on June 30, 2016. We are republishing it along with new reporting on other FBI documents.

SECRET FBI RULES allow agents to obtain journalists’ phone records with approval from two internal officials — far less oversight than under normal judicial procedures.

The classified rules, obtained by The Intercept and dating from 2013, govern the FBI’s use of national security letters, which allow the bureau to obtain information about journalists’ calls without going to a judge or informing the news organization being targeted. They have previously been released only in heavily redacted form.

Media advocates said the documents show that the FBI imposes few constraints on itself when it bypasses the requirement to go to court and obtain subpoenas or search warrants before accessing journalists’ information.

The rules stipulate that obtaining a journalist’s records with a national security letter requires the signoff of the FBI’s general counsel and the executive assistant director of the bureau’s National Security Branch, in addition to the regular chain of approval. Generally speaking, there are a variety of FBI officials, including the agents in charge of field offices, who can sign off that an NSL is “relevant” to a national security investigation.

There is an extra step under the rules if the NSL targets a journalist in order “to identify confidential news media sources.” In that case, the general counsel and the executive assistant director must first consult with the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

But if the NSL is trying to identify a leaker by targeting the records of the potential source, and not the journalist, the Justice Department doesn’t need to be involved.

The guidelines also specify that the extra oversight layers do not apply if the journalist is believed to be a spy or is part of a news organization “associated with a foreign intelligence service” or “otherwise acting on behalf of a foreign power.” Unless, again, the purpose is to identify a leak, in which case the general counsel and executive assistant director must approve the request.

“These supposed rules are incredibly weak and almost nonexistent — as long as they have that second signoff, they’re basically good to go,” said Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which has sued the Justice Department for the release of these rules. “The FBI is entirely able to go after journalists and with only one extra hoop they have to jump through.”

?
DIOG-Appendix-Media-NSLs
4 pages
A spokesperson for the FBI, Christopher Allen, declined to comment on the rules or say if they had been changed since 2013, except to say that they are “very clear” that “the FBI cannot predicate investigative activity solely on the exercise of First Amendment rights.”

The Obama administration has come under criticism for bringing a record number of leak prosecutions and aggressively targeting journalists in the process. In 2013, after it came out that the Justice Department had secretly seized records from phone lines at the Associated Press and surveilled Fox News reporter James Rosen, then-Attorney General Eric Holder tightened the rules for when prosecutors could go after journalists. The new policies emphasized that reporters would not be prosecuted for “newsgathering activities,” and that the government would “seek evidence from or involving the news media” as a “last resort” and an “extraordinary measure.” The FBI could not label reporters as co-conspirators in order to try to identify their sources — as had happened with Rosen — and it became more difficult to get journalists’ phone records without notifying the news organization first.

Yet these changes did not apply to NSLs. Those are governed by a separate set of rules, laid out in a classified annex to the FBI’s operating manual, known as the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, or DIOG. The full version of that guide, including the classified annex, was last made public in redacted form in 2011.

The section of the annex on NSLs obtained by The Intercept dates from October 2013 and is marked “last updated October 2011.” It is classified as secret with an additional restriction against distribution to any non-U.S. citizens.

Emails from FBI lawyers in 2015, which were released earlier this year to the Freedom of the Press Foundation, reference an update to this portion of the DIOG, but it is not clear from the heavily redacted emails what changes were actually made.

In a January 2015 email to a number of FBI employee lists, James Baker, the general counsel of the FBI, attached the new attorney general’s policy and wrote that “with the increased focus on media issues,” the FBI and Justice Department would “continue to review the DIOG and other internal policy guides to determine if additional changes or requirements are necessary.”

“Please be mindful of these media issues,” he continued, and advised consulting with the general counsel’s office “prior to implementing any techniques targeting the media.” But the email also explicitly notes that the new guidelines do not apply to “national security tools.”

Allen, the FBI spokesperson, told The Intercept in an emailed statement that “the FBI periodically reviews and updates the DIOG as needed” and that “certainly the FBI’s DIOG remains consistent with all [attorney general] guidelines.”

Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said that the “use of NSLs as a way around the protections in the guidelines is a serious concern for news organizations.”

Last week, the Reporters Committee filed a brief in support of the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s lawsuit for the FBI’s NSL rules and other documents on behalf of 37 news organizations, including The Intercept’s publisher, First Look Media. (First Look also provides funding to both the Reporters Committee and the Freedom of the Press Foundation, and several Intercept staffers serve on the foundation’s board.)

Seeing the rules in their uncensored form, Timm, of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, said that the FBI should not have kept them classified.

“Redacting the fact that they need a little extra signoff from supervisors doesn’t come close to protecting state secrets,” he said.

The FBI issues thousands of NSLs each year, including nearly 13,000 in 2015. Over the years, a series of inspector general reports found significant problems with their use, yet the FBI is currently pushing to expand the types of information it can demand with an NSL. The scope of NSLs has long been limited to basic subscriber information and toll billing information — which number called which, when, and for how long — as well as some financial and banking records. But the FBI had made a habit of asking companies to hand over more revealing data on internet usage, which could include email header information (though not the subject lines or content of emails) and browsing history. The 2013 NSL rules for the media only mention telephone toll records.

Another controversial aspect of NSLs is that they come with a gag order preventing companies from disclosing even the fact that they’ve received one. Court challenges and legislative changes have loosened that restriction a bit, allowing companies to disclose how many NSLs they receive, in broad ranges, and in a few cases, to describe the materials the FBI had demanded of them in more detail. Earlier this month, Yahoo became the first company to release three NSLs it had received in recent years.

It’s unclear how often the FBI has used NSLs to get journalists’ records. Barton Gellman, of the Washington Post, has said that he was told his phone records had been obtained via an NSL.

The FBI could also potentially demand journalists’ information through an application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or FISA court), which, like NSLs, would also not be covered by the Justice Department policy. The rules for that process are still obscure. The emails about revisions to the FBI guidelines reference a “FISA portion,” but most of the discussion is redacted.

For Brown, of the Reporters Committee, the disclosure of the rules “only confirms that we need information about the actual frequency and context of NSL practice relating to newsgathering and journalists’ records to assess the effectiveness of the new guidelines.”

Top photo: Jerry Delakas, 63, a longtime newspaper vendor in Manhattan’s Cooper Square, stands by his newsstand on April 3, 2012, in New York City.

Cora Currier
January 31 2017, 12:37 p.m.

Find this story at 31 January 2017
Copyright https://theintercept.com/

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

Abonnez vous à partir de 1 € Réagir ClasserPartager (1 681)Tweeter
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

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 !

Par JEAN GUISNEL
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

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
RELATED COVERAGE

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
RECENT COMMENTS

Greg Bellamy 19 February 2015
Lots of Monday morning quarterbacking here. Somebody made a decision. It was the wrong decision. If we hold every decision-marker…
Jon Davis 19 February 2015
For each complicated problem, there is a simple solution (usually proposed by a “conservative”) who mind lives far in the distant past)…
abo 18 February 2015
I prefer a country which respects human rights to one which provides 100% security. But then the U.S. doesn’t even provide 100% security -…
SEE ALL COMMENTS
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.

Photo

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.

Photo

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.

Photo

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
MORE ON THE PARIS SHOOTINGS

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
Proud to Offend, Charlie Hebdo Carries Torch of Political Provocation
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.)

Photo

“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.

By KATRIN BENNHOLD and ERIC SCHMITTFEB. 17, 2015

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

BY MITCHELL PROTHERO
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
PAR B. DUTHOIT, V. DEPECKER, P. RADENOVIC ET L. belaid

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

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.

READ MORE: FOUR HOSTAGES AND GUNMAN KILLED AS POLICE ACT SWIFTLY
WHO ARE GIGN? ELITE POLICE FORCE FORMED AFTER 1972 OLYMPICS
CORNERED AND THEN KILLED, THE LAST STAND OF THE FUGITIVE BROTHERS
AL-QAEDA IN YEMEN CLAIMS IT ORDERED ATTACK

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
1 of 25
Charlie Hebdo shooting
Next
Charlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shootingCharlie Hebdo shooting

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.

READ MORE
NORWAY’S CHRISTIANS DIDN’T HAVE TO APOLOGISE FOR ANDERS BREIVIK, AND IT’S THE SAME FOR MUSLIMS NOW

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.

WARNING: VIEWERS MAY FIND THIS VIDEO DISTRESSING
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…

ROBERT FISK
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.
ReutersReuters
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

THE PARIS MYSTERY: WERE THE SHOOTERS PART OF A GLOBAL TERRORIST CONSPIRACY?

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

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/01/12/the-paris-mystery/

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.

01/15/2015

Find this story at 15 January 2015

Copyright © 2015 ·Prose Theme · Genesis Framework by StudioPress

Why Reams of Intelligence Did Not Thwart the Paris Attacks

PARIS — The bloody denouement on Friday of two hostage crises at different ends of a traumatized Paris means attention will now shift to the gaping question facing the French government: How did several jihadists — and possibly a larger cell of co-conspirators — manage to evade surveillance and execute a bold attack despite being well known to the country’s police and intelligence services?

On its own, the Wednesday morning slaughter that left 12 people dead at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo represented a major breakdown for French security and intelligence forces, especially after the authorities confirmed that the two suspects, the brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, had known links to the militant group Al Qaeda in Yemen.

President François Hollande after holding a crisis meeting.Days of Sirens, Fear and Blood: ‘France Is Turned Upside Down’ JAN. 9, 2015
Andrew Parker, the directory general of MI5, said militants were planning attacks in Britain similar to the one in Paris.In Britain, Spy Chief Calls for More Power for AgencyJAN. 9, 2015
Then on Friday, even as the police had cornered the Kouachi brothers inside a printing factory in the northeast suburbs, another militant, Amedy Coulibaly — who has since been linked to the Kouachis — stormed a kosher supermarket in Paris and threatened to kill hostages if the police captured the Kouachis.

Mohammed Benali is president of a mosque in Gennevilliers where, he said, Chérif Kouachi was an infrequent visitor. Credit Agnes Dherbeys for The New York Times
“There is a clear failing,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls told French television on Friday night. “When 17 people die, it means there were cracks.”

An American official speaking about the failure to identify the plot said that French intelligence and law enforcement agencies had conducted surveillance on one or both of the Kouachi brothers after Saïd returned from Yemen, but later reduced that monitoring or dropped it altogether to focus on what were believed to be bigger threats.

“These guys were known to be bad, and the French had tabs on them for a while,” said the American official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid complicating a delicate intelligence matter. “At some point, though, they allocated resources differently. They moved on to other targets.”

The official acknowledged that American spy agencies tracked Westerners, particularly young men, traveling in and out of Yemen much more closely after a failed Qaeda plot to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day 2009.

But the official said the United States left the monitoring of the Kouachi brothers and other French citizens in France to that country’s security services.

One reason for the lapses may be that the number of possible jihadists inside France has continued to expand sharply. France has seen 1,000 to 2,000 of its citizens go to fight in Syria or Iraq, with about 200 returning, and the task of surveillance has grown overwhelming.

The questions facing French intelligence services will begin with the attack at Charlie Hebdo.

Continue reading the main story
GRAPHIC
The Links Among the Paris Terror Suspects and Their Connections to Jihad
Where their lives intersected and what may have influenced them.

OPEN GRAPHIC
The authorities knew that striking the satirical newspaper and its editor for their vulgar treatment of the Prophet Muhammad had been a stated goal of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, through its propaganda journal, Inspire.

Intelligence officers had also identified the Kouachi brothers as being previously involved in jihad-related activities, for which Chérif was convicted in 2008. Investigators have also linked Chérif to a plot to free from prison an Islamic militant convicted in the 1995 bombing of a French subway station, while French news organizations have reported that Mr. Coulibaly was also implicated in that case.

Continue reading the main story
Much remains unclear about the three suspects and whether they were working in a coordinated fashion. But the French apparently knew, or presumably should have known, either on their own or through close intelligence cooperation with the United States, that Saïd had traveled to Yemen in 2011.

News reports on Friday said that Saïd had met with the American-born Anwar al-Awlaki, a member and propagandist for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who was later killed by an American drone strike.

Security officials and acquaintances said that Mr. Kouachi’s travels in Yemen stretched from 2009 until at least 2012.

Mohammed al-Kibsi, a journalist, said he met Mr. Kouachi in Sana, the Yemeni capital, in January 2010. At the time, Mr. Kibsi was working on an article about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009, in a plot that intelligence officials believe was guided by Mr. Awlaki.

While looking for Mr. Abdulmutallab’s house, Mr. Kibsi said, he came across Mr. Kouachi playing soccer with a group of children. Mr. Kouachi told him that he and Mr. Abdulmutallab were friends: They had lived together for a week or two, a few months before the bombing attempt. They were both learning Arabic at the Sana Institute for Arabic Language, and both worshiped at the same local mosque, he said.

Continue reading the main story
GRAPHIC
Tracking the Aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo Attack
A visual timeline of the attack and the events that followed.

OPEN GRAPHIC
Mr. Kouachi was “so friendly” and spoke using a mix of English and French, Mr. Kibsi said, adding that he saw Mr. Kouachi on at least two other occasions, at a different Arabic institute in Sana’s old city.

It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Kouachi studied at Al-Iman University, an ultraconservative religious center with links to militants that Mr. Abdulmutallab attended.

Yemen has been an American priority, not a French one, making it likely that the Kouachi brothers and Mr. Coulibaly were put lower on the priority list, intelligence analysts said Friday.

Indeed, Mr. Coulibaly apparently met President Nicolas Sarkozy in July 2009, according to the French newspaper Le Parisien. At a news media event to encourage youth employment, Mr. Coulibaly was scheduled to be among a group of nine people who had taken part in a work-training program and was working at a Coca-Cola factory in the Parisian suburbs.

“It is a pleasure to meet the president,” he told a journalist before the meeting. “I don’t know what I’m going to say to him. I will start with, ‘Good morning!’ ”

The authorities released pictures of Mr. Coulibaly and a companion, Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, though it was not clear what became of her and how deep her links were to the group.

On Friday, even as the Kouachi brothers were confronting the police several miles away, people in the Gennevilliers suburb where Chérif lived described a man who, by appearances, was a devout and solemn Muslim, if giving a few hints of extremism.

Continue reading the main storyVideo

PLAY VIDEO|2:10
Paris Terror Suspect Shown in 2005 Film
Paris Terror Suspect Shown in 2005 Film
Chérif Kouachi, one of the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris, appeared in a 2005 investigative documentary about jihadism that aired on French television. Video by France3, via INA on Publish Date January 8, 2015. Photo by Pièces à Conviction, France3.
Mohammed Benali, president of the mosque in Gennevilliers, said Chérif Kouachi was an infrequent visitor who was polite, was shaven, wore jeans, and showed no signs of radicalization — “except for one incident.”

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
During France’s recent election, the imam consecrated a Friday Prayer to the importance of voting, which prompted Mr. Kouachi to jump up abruptly in the prayer hall and begin arguing that it was un-Islamic to vote.

“Our security personnel escorted him outside,” Mr. Benali said. “They tried to calm him down. They asked him to respect our mosque and our people.”

Chérif Kouachi was a familiar figure among some neighborhood shopkeepers, who regarded him as a serious Muslim. The owner of a bakery said that whenever Chérif came inside, his wife remained outside the glass door.

Inside the apartment building where Chérif lived on the fourth floor, he was described as polite, someone who helped women carry grocery bags up the stairwell during the frequent breakdowns of the elevator. Some neighbors said they saw his wife fully covered in a niqab. Others said they assumed that he lived alone.

“I always thought that he was single,” said one 24-year-old woman, who like others asked not to be identified. “He was always alone. I saw him once with a friend.”

For the French authorities, the basic questions are why they had not monitored the three men more aggressively and why the offices of Charlie Hebdo were not better protected.

Continue reading the main story
MORE ON THE PARIS SHOOTINGS

Inside Charlie Hebdo After the Attack
Inside Charlie Hebdo After the AttackJAN. 09, 2015

Aftermath of Paris Terror Attack
Aftermath of Paris Terror AttackJAN. 07, 2015
Before Paris Shooting, Authors Tapped Into Mood of a France ‘Homesick at Home’
Before Paris Shooting, Authors Tapped Into Mood of a France ‘Homesick at Home’JAN. 09, 2015

A Timeline of Threats and Acts of Violence Over Blasphemy and Insults to Islam
A Timeline of Threats and Acts of Violence Over Blasphemy and Insults to Islam JAN. 08, 2015
“The problem we face is that even though there are not that many radicalized Muslims in France, there are enough of them to make it difficult to physically follow everyone with a suspicious background,” said Camille Grand, a former French official and director of the Foundation for Strategic Research, an independent Paris group.

“It’s one thing to listen to the phone calls or watch their travel, but it’s another to put someone under permanent physical surveillance, or even follow all their phone conversations full time for so many people,” he added.

Jean-Charles Brisard, head of the French Center for Analysis of Terrorism, praised the security response and said there were simply not enough police and security officers to keep full monitoring on everyone who goes through prison.

“It’s a problem of resources,” Mr. Brisard said.

He added that the authorities had Chérif Kouachi under surveillance “for a period of time, but then they judged that there was no threat, or the threat was lower, and they had other priorities.”

“We are understaffed,” complained an officer involved in the search of Chérif Kouachi’s apartment in Gennevilliers. “We would need to triple our staff to better protect the city.”

President François Hollande went on television Friday — before the two standoffs had ended — to try to reassure the nation, and he visited the Interior Ministry headquarters to supervise the police action.

The attacks were likely to aggravate the problems of Mr. Hollande, already widely considered weak and indecisive. Moreover, serious internal questions are also likely, as they were after Mohammed Merah, who had been known to the police and intelligence services, killed seven people in southwestern France in 2012, saying that he was acting on behalf of Al Qaeda.

It later emerged that Mr. Merah had traveled to Afghanistan, and that the Americans had alerted the French, who had not reacted with sufficient attention in what was considered an operational failure.

Jean-Louis Bruguière, a former presidential adviser on terrorism and a former antiterrorism judge who knew Chérif Kouachi when he was arrested in 2005, said that the authorities could not monitor every person of interest. “You can’t keep a policeman tracking every single one of them,” he said, noting that he had interviewed hundreds of aspiring jihadists.

Correction: January 17, 2015
Because of an editing error, an article last Saturday about questions concerning how the jihadists responsible for the murders of 17 people in Paris were able to execute brazen attacks despite being known to the authorities referred incorrectly to the director of the Foundation for Strategic Research, who was quoted in the article. The director, Camille Grand, is a man.

Reporting was contributed by Rukmini Callimachi, Laure Fourquet and Assia Labbas from Paris, Eric Schmitt from Washington, and Shuaib Almosawa from Sana, Yemen.

By STEVEN ERLANGER and JIM YARDLEYJAN. 9, 2015

Find this story at 9 January 2015

© 2015 The New York Times Company

AL QAEDA SOURCE: AQAP DIRECTED PARIS ATTACK

UPDATED — A source within al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has provided The Intercept with a full statement claiming responsibility for the attack against the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris:

Some ask the relationship between Al-Qaeda Organization and the (brothers) who carried out the #CharlieHebdo operation. Was it direct? Was the operation supervised by the Al-Qaeda wing in the Arabian Peninsula?

The leadership of #AQAP directed the operation, and they have chosen their target carefully as a revenge for the honor of Prophet (pbuh)

The target was in France in particular because of its obvious role in the war on Islam and oppressed nations.

The operation was the result of the threat of Sheikh Usama (RA). He warned the West about the consequences of the persistence in the blasphemy against Muslims’ sanctities.

Sheikh Usama (RA) said in his message to the West: If there is no check on the freedom of your words, then let your hearts be open to the freedom of our actions.

The Organization delayed to claim responsibility due to the executors’ security reasons. Nevertheless, the operation carries a number of important messages to all the Western countries.

One: Touching Muslims’ sanctity and protecting those who make blasphemy have dear price and the punishment will be severe.

Two: The crimes of the Western countries, above them America, Britain and France will backfire deep in their home.

Three: The policy of hitting the snake’s head followed by the Al-Qaeda organization under the leadership of Adhawahiri is still achieving its goals; until the West retreats.

Four: The inspiring media policies of the Mujahideen of Al-Qaeda especially of Inspire Magazine has greatly succeeded in identifying its targets and collecting powers.

One of the cartoonists’ name and photo were put down in Inspire’s wanted poster, dead or alive. The Western regimes should wait for harm and destruction by the Might of Allah.

I hope the brothers will distribute these tweets and translate them so that they reach the greatest audience. {And Allah has full power and control over His Affairs, but most of men know not.}

Arabic-language excerpts from the statement are being circulated widely on Twitter. AQAP has not made any claims of responsibility through its official communication channels. A prominent AQAP cleric released an audio recording today praising the attack, but made no reference to AQAP playing an operational role. [Update: Shortly after The Intercept published this statement, an AQAP official, Bakhsaruf al-Danqaluh, tweeted, in Arabic, the exact paragraphs the AQAP source provided us. This is still not an official AQAP claim of responsibility, but it suggests such a statement may be forthcoming or is being internally debated within the group.]

Earlier in the afternoon, a source within al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula gave The Intercept a separate message praising the attack on Charlie Hebdo. “The lions of Jihad have stood. The followers of Muhammad – peace be upon him – have never forgotten,” the message declared. “Do not look for links or affiliation with Jihadi fronts. It is enough they are Muslims. They are Mujahideen. This is the Jihad of the Ummah. So France, are you ready for more attacks?”

From the Winter 2014 issue of AQAP’s Inspire, a Muslim prays next to a pressure cooker, above an image of a French passport.
The source, who demanded anonymity because the group had not yet released an official statement, also told The Intercept that two images in the latest issue of its publication, Inspire, published in December, contained a clue foreshadowing the attack on Charlie Hebdo. One image (at right, click to enlarge) shows a Muslim kneeling in prayer with a cooking pot similar to the one used by the Boston marathon bombers. “If you have the knowledge and inspiration all that’s left is to take action.” On the page immediately below it is a picture of a French passport. Throughout the day, several AQAP members have been praising the attack on social media and discussion sites. An AQAP source pointed The Intercept to a recording they claim is Cherif Kouachi, one of the suspects, acknowledging that his trips to Yemen in 2011 were “financed” by U.S.-born radical imam Anwar al Awlaki and that he was sent to Yemen by AQAP.

The full message provided by the AQAP source, which references Inspire‘s previous threats to attack media outlets that publish demeaning pictures of the Prophet Muhammad, is here:

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech! Journalist! Newspaper! It is a war on freedom of speech. It is a war on journalism. These words kept belching out of many mouths. All are well aware of what this magazine published. “It was just satirical,” some argued. I find it funny how this type of people think. “It is a crime for a journalist to be killed,” they claim … I would like to pose some questions to them:

Was it a crime to kill Sheikh Anwar Al-‘Awlaki for his da’wah?

Was it a crime to kill Samir Khan for being a member of Inspire Team?

Was it a crime to kill Fuad Al-Hadhrami, the brother who accompanied journalists in S.Yemen?

Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief Gerard Biard remarked he didn’t “understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons. A newspaper is not a weapon of war.” Isn’t Inspire a magazine? Are we to conclude that drones and missiles aren’t heavy weapons?

Where are your values in that regard?

The Charlie magazine team deserved what they got. Many warnings have been given before, but they were persistent. They had the freedom to use cartoons in their magazine, and we have the freedom to use bullets from our magazines. As the ‘Wanted List’ stated: A bullet a day, keeps the kaffir away. Yes, Charb is no more. The lions of Jihad have stood. The followers of Muhammad – peace be upon him – have never forgotten. As Sheikh Anwar Rahimahullah put it: The Dust Will Never Settle Down.

Do not look for links or affiliation with Jihadi fronts. It is enough they are Muslims. They are Mujahideen. This is the Jihad of the Ummah. So France, are you ready for more attacks; Weren’t you asked by Inspire Magazine immediately after the Wanted List:

So, why is France so thick in learning from its past mistakes? Is it leaving Paris undefended once again? Woe upon you from tens of Muhammad Merah!

You come third in the target list, after US and Britain. If I were the latter, I would rather pull my sleeves up.

Earlier in the day, the French government announced that the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo massacre have been killed following a stand-off at a printing plant outside of Paris. U.S. and French intelligence agencies are aggressively investigating the travel history and associations of the two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi. The brothers both claim to have spent time in Yemen. Agence France Press reports that Said traveled multiple times to Yemen from 2009-2013 and studied at Sana’a’s Iman University, founded by radical preacher Abdel Majid al-Zindani.

A senior Yemeni intelligence official told Reuters that Said traveled to Yemen in 2011 and met with Awlaki, who was infamous for his sermons and writings calling for Muslims in Western countries to conduct terrorist attacks. Anonymous U.S. officials have alleged in various news reports that Said received training from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and a witness to the shooting told French media that one of the shooters claimed that they were from AQAP. “We do not have confirmed information that he was trained by al Qaeda but what was confirmed was that he has met with Awlaki in Shabwah,” the Yemeni official told Reuters. Awlaki, along with another U.S. citizen, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in northern Yemen ordered by President Obama in September 2011.

Said Kouachi
A senior Yemeni official told The Intercept that the French government has not yet formally requested the Yemeni government’s assistance or cooperation in their investigation. “France has not approached us in any official way yet,” the official said. “The [Yemeni] government is waiting for a French inquiry.”

The Intercept granted the Yemeni official anonymity because he is not authorized to speak about the matter absent an official French inquiry and because anonymous U.S. and Yemeni officials are making contradictory claims. The official said that many French nationals have traveled to Yemen, sometimes on passports from other nations.

Awlaki was very public in his calls for assassinating cartoonists and attacking media outlets that published demeaning images of Prophet Mohammed.

***

In June 2010, AQAP published its first issue of an English language publication, Inspire. “Allah says: ‘And inspire the believers to fight,’” read the opening line of the letter from Inspire’s unnamed editor. “It is from this verse that we derive the name of our new magazine.” Inspire, the editor wrote, was “the first magazine to be issued by the al-Qaeda Organization in the English language. In the West; in East, West and South Africa; in South and Southeast Asia and elsewhere are millions of Muslims whose first or second language is English. It is our intent for this magazine to be a platform to present the important issues facing the ummah [community] today to the wide and dispersed English speaking Muslim readership.”

The issue of Inspire featured an “exclusive” interview with the head of AQAP, Nasir al Wuhayshi, also known as Abu Basir, as well as translated works from bin Laden and Zawahiri. It also included an essay praising Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the failed underwear bomber. The magazine was well produced, with a layout that resembled a typical U.S. teen magazine, though without fashionably dressed women and celebrities. Instead, it featured photos of children alleged to have been killed in U.S. missile strikes and pictures of armed, masked jihadis. An article written under the byline “AQ Chef” and titled “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom” provided instructions on how to manufacture explosive devices from basic household goods. Another article gave detailed directions on how to download military-grade encryption software for sending e-mails and text messages.

Perhaps most disturbing, the magazine contained a “Hit List” of people who it alleged had created “blasphemous caricatures” of the Prophet Muhammad. In late 2005, the Danish publication Jyllands-Posten commissioned a dozen cartoons of the Prophet, ostensibly to contribute to a debate about self-censorship within Islam. It had enraged Muslims across the world at the time, sparked massive protests and resulted in death threats and bomb threats against the newspaper. The hit list published by Inspire included magazine editors, anti-Muslim pundits who had defended the cartoons, as well as the novelist Salman Rushdie. But it also included Molly Norris, a Seattle-based cartoonist who initiated “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.” Norris said she did it in response to the U.S. Comedy Central network’s decision to edit out a scene in its popular animated program South Park that addressed the controversy, after receiving a threat.

Anwar Al-Awlaki at Dar al Hijrah Mosque on October 4 2001 in Falls Church, VA. (Photo by Tracy Woodward/The Washington Post).
Anwar Al-Awlaki
Inspire’s hit list was accompanied by an essay penned by Awlaki encouraging Muslims to attack those who defame the image of Mohammed. “I would like to express my thanks to my brothers at Inspire for inviting me to write the main article for the first issue of their new magazine. I would also like to commend them for having this subject, the defense of the Messenger of Allah, as the main focus of this issue,” Awlaki wrote. He then laid out a defense for assassinating those who engaged in blasphemy of Mohammed. “The large number of participants makes it easier for us because there are more targets to choose from in addition to the difficulty of the government offering all of them special protection.” He continued:
“But even then our campaign should not be limited to only those who are active participants. These perpetrators are not operating in a vacuum. Instead they are operating within a system that is offering them support and protection. The government, political parties, the police, the intelligence services, blogs, social networks, the media, and the list goes on, are part of a system within which the defamation of Islam is not only protected but promoted. The main elements in this system are the laws that make this blasphemy legal. Because they are practicing a “right” that is defended by the law, they have the backing of the entire Western political system. This would make the attacking of any Western target legal from an Islamic viewpoint….Assassinations, bombings, and acts of arson are all legitimate forms of revenge against a system that relishes the sacrilege of Islam in the name of freedom.”

When Inspire was published, some within the U.S. intelligence community panicked. The first concern was protecting the people who had been identified as targets for assassination. The FBI took immediate precautions to guard the Seattle cartoonist, whom they feared could be murdered. She eventually changed her name and moved. Law enforcement agencies in other countries took similar measures.

***

If Awlaki met with Said Kouachi in Yemen, it would not be the first time he met with young Muslims who went on to attempt or conduct terrorist attacks. In the aftermath of the failed Christmas day attack on an airplane over Detroit, the young Nigerian man who attempted to detonate an explosive device sewn into his underwear was presented as an AQAP operative who had been sent on a suicide mission by Anwar Awlaki. Yemeni intelligence officials told the United States that Abdulmutallab had traveled to Awlaki’s tribal area of Shabwah in October 2009. There, they say, he hooked up with members of AQAP. A U.S. government source said that the National Security Agency had intercepted “voice-to-voice communication” between Abdulmutallab and Awlaki in the fall of 2009 and had determined that Awlaki “was in some way involved in facilitating this guy’s transportation or trip through Yemen. It could be training, a host of things. I don’t think we know for sure,” the anonymous source told the Washington Post.

A local tribal leader from Shabwah, Mullah Zabara, later told me he had seen the young Nigerian at the farm of Fahd al Quso, the alleged USS Cole bombing conspirator. “He was watering trees,” Zabara told me. “When I saw [Abdulmutallab], I asked Fahd, ‘Who is he?’” Quso told Zabara the young man was from a different part of Yemen, which Zabara knew was a lie. “When I saw him on TV, then Fahd told me the truth.”

UNSPECIFIED – UNDATED: This undated handout image provided by the U.S. Marshals Service on December 28, 2009 shows Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Abdulmutallab, 23, is a Nigerian man suspected of attempting to blow up Northwest 253 flight as it was landing in Detroit on Christmas day. (Photo by U.S. Marshals Service via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
Awlaki’s role in the “underwear plot” was unclear. Awlaki later claimed that Abdulmutallab was one of his “students.” U.S. officials insist Awlaki played an operational role in the plot. Tribal sources in Shabwah 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 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 US civil[ian] jet after all this. The 300 Americans are nothing comparing to the thousands of Muslims who have been killed.”
Part of this article was adapted from Jeremy Scahill’s book, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield.

Photo: Michel Euler/AP; Kouachi: Direction centrale de la Police judiciaire/Getty; Al-Awlaki: Tracy Woodward/The Washington Post/Getty; Abdulmutallab: U.S. Marshals/Getty

Email the author: jeremy.scahill@theintercept.com

BY JEREMY SCAHILL @jeremyscahill 01/09/2015

Find this story at 9 January 2015

Copyright https://firstlook.org/theintercept/

El terror en París: raíces profundas y lejanas CHARLIE HEBDO.

* Una versión muy resumida de esta nota, escrita ayer “en caliente” ni bien enterado de los hechos, fue publicada en el día de hoy, 8 de Enero de 2015, por Página/12. Ahora, con más tiempo, la doy a conocer con todos sus detalles.

(Atilio A. Boron ) El atentado terrorista perpetrado en las oficinas de Charlie Hebdo debe ser condenado sin atenuantes. Es un acto brutal, criminal, que no tiene justificación alguna. Es la expresión contemporánea de un fanatismo religioso que -desde tiempos inmemoriales y en casi todas las religiones conocidas- ha plagado a la humanidad con muertes y sufrimientos indecibles. La barbarie perpetrada en París concitó el repudio universal. Pero parafraseando a un enorme intelectual judío del siglo XVII, Baruch Spinoza, ante tragedias como esta no basta con llorar, es preciso comprender. ¿Cómo dar cuenta de lo sucedido?

Cabu, Wolinski, Charb y Tignous; los dibujantes muertos por el ataque terrorista a Charlie Hebdo. Fotos: EFE

La respuesta no puede ser simple porque son múltiples los factores que se amalgamaron para producir tan infame masacre. Descartemos de antemano la hipótesis de que fue la obra de un comando de fanáticos que, en un inexplicable rapto de locura religiosa, decidió aplicar un escarmiento ejemplar a un semanario que se permitía criticar ciertas manifestaciones del Islam y también de otras confesiones religiosas. Que son fanáticos no cabe ninguna duda. Creyentes ultraortodoxos abundan en muchas partes, sobre todo en Estados Unidos e Israel. Pero, ¿cómo llegaron los de París al extremo de cometer un acto tan execrable y cobarde como el que estamos comentando? Se impone distinguir los elementos que actuaron como precipitantes o desencadenantes –por ejemplo, las caricaturas publicadas por el Charlie Hebdo, blasfemas para la fe del Islam- de las causas estructurales o de larga duración que se encuentran en la base de una conducta tan aberrante. En otras palabras, es preciso ir más allá del acontecimiento, por doloroso que sea, y bucear en sus determinantes más profundos.

A partir de esta premisa metodológica hay un factor merece especial consideración. Nuestra hipótesis es que lo sucedido es un lúgubre síntoma de lo que ha sido la política de Estados Unidos y sus aliados en Medio Oriente desde fines de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Es el resultado paradojal –pero previsible, para quienes están atentos al movimiento dialéctico de la historia- del apoyo que la Casa Blanca le brindó al radicalismo islámico desde el momento en que, producida la invasión soviética a Afganistán en Diciembre de 1979, la CIA determinó que la mejor manera de repelerla era combinar la guerra de guerrillas librada por los mujaidines con la estigmatización de la Unión Soviética por su ateísmo, convirtiéndola así en una sacrílega excrecencia que debía ser eliminada de la faz de la tierra. En términos concretos esto se tradujo en un apoyo militar, político y económico a los supuestos “combatientes por la libertad” y en la exaltación del fundamentalismo islamista del talibán que, entre otras cosas, veía la incorporación de las niñas las escuelas afganas dispuesta por el gobierno prosoviético de Kabul como una intolerable apostasía. Al Qaeda y Osama bin Laden son hijos de esta política. En esos aciagos años de Reagan, Thatcher y Juan Pablo II, la CIA era dirigida por William Casey, un católico ultramontano, caballero de la Orden de Malta cuyo celo religioso y su visceral anticomunismo le hicieron creer que, aparte de las armas, el fomento de la religiosidad popular en Afganistán sería lo que acabaría con el sacrílego “imperio del mal” que desde Moscú extendía sus tentáculos sobre el Asia Central. Y la política seguida por Washington fue esa: potenciar el fervor islamista, sin medir sus predecibles consecuencias a mediano plazo.

Horrorizado por la monstruosidad del genio que se le escapó de la botella y produjo los confusos atentados del 11 de Septiembre (confusos porque las dudas acerca de la autoría del hecho son muchas más que las certidumbres) Washington proclamó una nueva doctrina de seguridad nacional: la “guerra infinita” o la “guerra contra el terrorismo”, que convirtió a las tres cuartas partes de la humanidad en una tenebrosa conspiración de terroristas (o cómplices de ellos) enloquecidos por su afán de destruir a Estados Unidos y el “modo americano de vida” y estimuló el surgimiento de una corriente mundial de la “islamofobia”. Tan vaga y laxa ha sido la definición oficial del terrorismo que en la práctica este y el Islam pasaron a ser sinónimos, y el sayo le cabe a quienquiera que sea un crítico del imperialismo norteamericano. Para calmar a la opinión pública, aterrorizada ante los atentados, los asesores de la Casa Blanca recurrieron al viejo método de buscar un chivo expiatorio, alguien a quien culpar, como a Lee Oswald, el inverosímil asesino de John F. Kennedy. George W. Bush lo encontró en la figura de un antiguo aliado, Saddam Hussein, que había sido encumbrado a la jefatura del estado en Irak para guerrear contra Irán luego del triunfo de la Revolución Islámica en 1979, privando a la Casa Blanca de uno de sus más valiosos peones regionales. Hussein, como Gadaffi años después, pensó que habiendo prestado sus servicios al imperio tendría las manos libres para actuar a voluntad en su entorno geográfico inmediato. Se equivocó al creer que Washington lo recompensaría tolerando la anexión de Kuwait a Irak, ignorando que tal cosa era inaceptable en función de los proyectos estadounidenses en la región. El castigo fue brutal: la primera Guerra del Golfo (Agosto 1990-Febrero 1991), un bloqueo de más de diez años que aniquiló a más de un millón de personas (la mayoría niños) y un país destrozado. Contando con la complicidad de la dirigencia política y la prensa “libre, objetiva e independiente” dentro y fuera de Estados Unidos la Casa Blanca montó una patraña ridícula e increíble por la cual se acusaba a Hussein de poseer armas de destrucción masiva y de haber forjado una alianza con su archienemigo, Osama bin Laden, para atacar a los Estados Unidos. Ni tenía esas armas, cosa que era archisabida; ni podía aliarse con un fanático sunita como el jefe de Al Qaeda, siendo él un ecléctico en cuestiones religiosas y jefe de un estado laico.

Impertérrito ante estas realidades, en Marzo del 2003 George W. Bush dio inicio a la campaña militar para escarmentar a Hussein: invade el país, destruye sus fabulosos tesoros culturales y lo poco que quedaba en pie luego de años de bloqueo, depone a sus autoridades, monta un simulacro de juicio donde a Hussein lo sentencian a la pena capital y muere en la horca. Pero la ocupación norteamericana, que dura ocho años, no logra estabilizar económica y políticamente al país, acosada por la tenaz resistencia de los patriotas iraquíes. Cuando las tropas de Estados Unidos se retiran se comprueba su humillante derrota: el gobierno queda en manos de los chiítas, aliados del enemigo público número uno de Washington en la región, Irán, e irreconciliablemente enfrentados con la otra principal rama del Islam, los sunitas. A los efectos de disimular el fracaso de la guerra y debilitar a una Bagdad si no enemiga por lo menos inamistosa -y, de paso, controlar el avispero iraquí- la Casa Blanca no tuvo mejor idea que replicar la política seguida en Afganistán en los años ochentas: fomentar el fundamentalismo sunita y atizar la hoguera de los clivajes religiosos y las guerras sectarias dentro del turbulento mundo del Islam. Para ello contó con la activa colaboración de las reaccionarias monarquías del Golfo, y muy especialmente de la troglodita teocracia de Arabia Saudita, enemiga mortal de los chiítas y, por lo tanto, de Irán, Siria y de los gobernantes chiítas de Irak.

Fusilamiento de un policía a la salida de las oficinas de Charlie Hebdo

Claro está que el objetivo global de la política estadounidense y, por extensión, de sus clientes europeos, no se limita tan sólo a Irak o Siria. Es de más largo aliento pues procura concretar el rediseño del mapa de Medio Oriente mediante la desmembración de los países artificialmente creados por las potencias triunfantes luego de las dos guerras mundiales. La balcanización de la región dejaría un archipiélago de sectas, milicias, tribus y clanes que, por su desunión y rivalidades mutuas no podrían ofrecer resistencia alguna al principal designio de “humanitario” Occidente: apoderarse de las riquezas petroleras de la región. El caso de Libia luego de la destrucción del régimen de Gadaffi lo prueba con elocuencia y anticipó la fragmentación territorial en curso en Siria e Irak, para nombrar los casos más importantes. Ese es el verdadero, casi único, objetivo: desmembrar a los países y quedarse con el petróleo de Medio Oriente. ¿Promoción de la democracia, los derechos humanos, la libertad, la tolerancia? Esos son cuentos de niños, o para consumo de los espíritus neocolonizados y de la prensa títere del imperio para disimular lo inconfesable: el saqueo petrolero.

El resto es historia conocida: reclutados, armados y apoyados diplomática y financieramente por Estados Unidos y sus aliados, a poco andar los fundamentalistas sunitas exaltados como “combatientes por la libertad” y utilizados como fuerzas mercenarias para desestabilizar a Siria hicieron lo que en su tiempo Maquiavelo profetizó que harían todos los mercenarios: independizarse de sus mandantes, como antes lo hicieran Al Qaeda y bin Laden, y dar vida a un proyecto propio: el Estado Islámico. Llevados a Siria para montar desde afuera una infame “guerra civil” urdida desde Washington para producir el anhelado “cambio de régimen” en ese país, los fanáticos terminaron ocupando parte del territorio sirio, se apropiaron de un sector de Irak, pusieron en funcionamiento los campos petroleros de esa zona y en connivencia con las multinacionales del sector y los bancos occidentales se dedican a vender el petróleo robado a precio vil y convertirse en la guerrilla más adinerada del planeta, con ingresos estimados de 2.000 millones de dólares anuales para financiar sus crímenes en cualquier país del mundo. Para dar muestras de su fervor religioso las milicias jihadistas degüellan, decapitan y asesinan infieles a diestra y siniestra, no importa si musulmanes de otra secta, cristianos, judíos o agnósticos, árabes o no, todo en abierta profanación de los valores del Islam. Al haber avivado las llamas del sectarismo religioso era cuestión de tiempo que la violencia desatada por esa estúpida y criminal política de Occidente tocara las puertas de Europa o Estados Unidos. Ahora fue en París, pero ya antes Madrid y Londres habían cosechado de manos de los ardientes islamistas lo que sus propios gobernantes habían sembrado inescrupulosamente.

De lo anterior se desprende con claridad cuál es la génesis oculta de la tragedia del Charlie Hebdo. Quienes fogonearon el radicalismo sectario mal podrían ahora sorprenderse y mucho menos proclamar su falta de responsabilidad por lo ocurrido, como si el asesinato de los periodistas parisinos no tuviera relación alguna con sus políticas. Sus pupilos de antaño responden con las armas y los argumentos que les fueron inescrupulosamente cedidos desde los años de Reagan hasta hoy. Más tarde, los horrores perpetrados durante la ocupación norteamericana en Irak los endurecieron e inflamaron su celo religioso. Otro tanto ocurrió con las diversas formas de “terrorismo de estado” que las democracias capitalistas practicaron, o condonaron, en el mundo árabe: las torturas, vejaciones y humillaciones cometidas en Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo y las cárceles secretas de la CIA; las matanzas consumadas en Libia y en Egipto; el indiscriminado asesinato que a diario cometen los drones estadounidenses en Pakistán y Afganistán, en donde sólo dos de cada cien víctimas alcanzadas por sus misiles son terroristas; el “ejemplarizador” linchamiento de Gadaffi (cuya noticia provocó la repugnante carcajada de Hillary Clinton); el interminable genocidio al que son periódicamente sometidos los palestinos por Israel, con la anuencia y la protección de Estados Unidos y los gobiernos europeos, crímenes, todos estos, de lesa humanidad que sin embargo no conmueven la supuesta conciencia democrática y humanista de Occidente. Repetimos: nada, absolutamente nada, justifica el crimen cometido contra el semanario parisino. Pero como recomendaba Spinoza hay que comprender las causas que hicieron que los jihadistas decidieran pagarle a Occidente con su misma sangrienta moneda. Nos provoca náuseas tener que narrar tanta inmoralidad e hipocresía de parte de los portavoces de gobiernos supuestamente democráticos que no son otra cosa que sórdidas plutocracias. Hubo quienes, en Estados Unidos y Europa, condenaron lo ocurrido con los colegas de Charlie Hebdo por ser, además, un atentado a la libertad de expresión. Efectivamente, una masacre como esa lo es, y en grado sumo. Pero carecen de autoridad moral quienes condenan lo ocurrido en París y nada dicen acerca de la absoluta falta de libertad de expresión en Arabia Saudita, en donde la prensa, la radio, la televisión, la Internet y cualquier medio de comunicación está sometido a una durísima censura. Hipocresía descarada también de quienes ahora se rasgan las vestiduras pero no hicieron absolutamente nada para detener el genocidio perpetrado por Israel hace pocos meses en Gaza. Claro, Israel es uno de los nuestros dirán entre sí y, además, dos mil palestinos, varios centenares de ellos niños, no valen lo mismo que la vida de doce franceses. La cara oculta de la hipocresía es el más desenfrenado racismo.

Find this story at 8 January 2015

Copyright © 2009 Atilio Boron

Paris Unity March – Where Hypocrites Of The World Unite!

After the Charlie Hebdo attack, dozens of world leaders marched arm in arm with President Francois Hollande during a unity march in Paris. But many of these leaders aren’t exactly supporting free speech and a free press back home. So what’s the deal? Dena Takruri of AJ+ explains

JANUARY 13, 2015

Find this story at 13 January 2015
Or watch here

Islam and free speech: What’s so funny? Western media keep using Charlie Hebdo attack to fan propaganda about the ‘Islamification’ of Europe.

Media coverage of the Paris shootings is typical of previous incidents involving Islam and free speech in the West. Much of it has veered between the misleading, sensationalist and absurd (such as a ‘terrorism expert’ on Fox News branding Birmingham a “Muslim-only city”).
Journalists have jumped on the “Je Suis Charlie” bandwagon. Many would never condone Charlie Hebdo’s content, so why self-identify with the magazine? One can condemn the murder of its staff without embracing what it stands for.
The media seems reluctant to investigate the causes of radicalism that lead to such attacks, as if doing so implies justification. Thus there is little discussion about Muslim alienation in France and elsewhere in Europe.
The result is a simplistic discourse of Islam versus free speech. The latter is
Media coverage of the Paris shootings is typical of previous incidents involving Islam and free speech in the West. Much of it has veered between the misleading, sensationalist and absurd – such as a “terrorism expert” on Fox News branding Birmingham a “Muslim-only city”.
Journalists have jumped on the “Je Suis Charlie” bandwagon. Many would never condone Charlie Hebdo’s content, so why self-identify with the magazine? One can condemn the murder of its staff without embracing what it stands for.
The media seems reluctant to investigate the causes of radicalism that lead to such attacks, as if doing so implies justification. Thus, there is little discussion about Muslim alienation in France and elsewhere in Europe.
The result is a simplistic discourse of Islam versus free speech. The latter is naively portrayed as absolute and non-negotiable, emboldening racist elements of society when European far-right sentiment is increasing.
Islam v free speech
In fact, there are limits to any right. In France, freedom of expression “is limited by strict defamation and privacy laws”, and “some of the toughest hate speech laws in the EU”, according to Index on Censorship.
Muslims are disproportionately surveilled. Wearing religious signs or clothing in schools is forbidden, as is the face veil in public places, and Islamic prayers in the streets.
In France – and other European states – it is a crime to deny the Holocaust, but not other genocides. Muslims are disproportionately surveilled. Wearing religious signs or clothing in schools is forbidden, as is the face veil in public places, and Islamic prayers in the streets.
The media has largely glossed over such limitations in France and other countries that claim unrestricted free expression.
Also largely absent, though crucial, is acknowledgement of the double standards in applying free speech.
Charlie Hebdo fired one of its employees over anti-Semitic content. Similarly, Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten said soon after publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in 2005 that it would not publish cartoons offending Christians and Jews.
In my 10 years as head of a British media watchdog, it has become clear that Muslims are often described in derogatory ways that are unacceptable regarding other communities.
The effect that the right to offend has on minorities compared with wider society is not addressed. A minority facing discrimination and disenfranchisement will feel existentially threatened, and be potentially radicalised, when the majority exercises its right to offend. The status of society at large is not at risk when the situation is reversed.
This right is portrayed as a cornerstone of western values, while tolerance and respect – values that have attracted many immigrants, and are crucial in multicultural societies – are touted as appeasement.
To uphold the right to gratuitously offend, without any sense of responsibility that should accompany freedom of expression, is childish, even dangerous. What point is proven by doing so? A foundation of journalism is awareness that with power comes responsibility, but many journalists in democracies forget how influential their profession is on public opinion and politicians.
Taking responsibility
Consider the effect on Muslims of international media mogul Rupert Murdoch saying they “must be held responsible … until they recognise and destroy their growing jihadist cancer”.
This view is regurgitated by his numerous news outlets and by countless industry colleagues, many of whom have used the Charlie Hebdo attack to fan propaganda about the “Islamification” of Europe and the inherent violence and backwardness of Islam.

Listening Post – Lead: Charlie Hebdo and the media
They demand that Muslims apologise for and condemn acts that they have neither committed nor condoned. “I want real Muslims to … make it crystal clear that these terrorists don’t act in their name,” wrote Piers Morgan in an article titled “If I can accept that the Paris murderers aren’t real Muslims why won’t the MUSLIM world say so too?”
Abundant condemnation from Muslims suggests that Morgan and others are either ignorant or refuse to listen.
Similarly puzzling is the context in which Islam is mentioned in relation to the Paris shootings. The attackers’ religion is integral to their descriptions.
The same cannot be said of murdered policeman Ahmed Merabet or Lassana Bathily, who saved shoppers in a kosher supermarket. Is someone’s Muslim faith only relevant in a negative context?
As in the past, there is more discussion of Muslims than with them. An example is the BBC’s flagship political debate programme, Question Time, which fielded a panel of five talking about the Paris attacks without a single Muslim.
Amid round-the-clock coverage of the shootings, reprisal attacks against Muslims have been remarkably under-reported, as have other deadly attacks against civilians and suppression of free speech worldwide. Violent incidents in Nigeria and Yemen in the last week led to far more civilian deaths than in Paris (up to 2,000 in Nigeria), but they were not deemed as newsworthy.
The solidarity rally in Paris was attended by a who’s who of enemies of free speech and independent journalism. Those hoping the mainstream media would highlight this hypocrisy were disappointed.
The irony was not lost on Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Bernard Holtrop, who said: “We vomit on all those people who are suddenly saying they are our friends… I’ve got to laugh about that.”
Yet, recurrent problematic coverage is no laughing matter.
Sharif Nashashibi is an award-winning journalist and analyst on Arab affairs. He is a regular contributor to Al Jazeera English, Al Arabiya News, The National, The Middle East magazine and the Middle East Eye.

13 Jan 2015 07:49 GMT
Sharif Nashashibi

Find this story at 13 January 2015

© 2015 Al Jazeera Media Network