The Taliban's return to power in Kabul has raised fears about the potential knock-on effect that their victory will have in other parts of the world. French intelligence services believe that here the main danger is likely to come from the morale boost it will give to terrorists or potential terrorists already based in France. Matthieu Suc has spoken to members of the intelligence community to assess the potential threats following recent events in Afghanistan.
When President Emmanuel Macron spoke to a group of journalists at the end of January this year he claimed there were “40,000 to 50,000 extreme militants” stirring up the 'yellow vest' protests, and he warned that violence was being orchestrated by political hardliners. Yet at the very same time the president's own intelligence services were producing an analysis which came to precisely the opposite conclusion. According to those security agencies, the ultra-right and ultra-left are “virtually non-existent” in the protest marches. Matthieu Suc reports on the president who appears to be ignoring or contradicting his own secret services.
Russian spies in France are trying to recruit business people, diplomats and military personnel, using resources and methods similar to those used at the height of the Cold War. French counter-intelligence officials are meanwhile working hard to unmask the Russian agents. Though Russia and France are co-operating over antiterrorism issues, their respective intelligence agents are engaged in a parallel, largely hidden struggle, with French soil as the battleground. Matthieu Suc and Jacques Massey report.
The Islamic State terrorist organisation has been quietly preparing for the loss of its self-styled Caliphate for several months. France's security services now fear that its fighters might be moved to other areas of jihadist conflict or into Europe. In particular they have have raised concerns over the role of the terrorist's mysterious 'Emigration and Logistics Committee' based in Turkey, the Lebanon and Jordan, amid fears it may be used to send French and other European jihadists back to their country of origin. Matthieu Suc reports.
French intelligence agencies knew as far back as 2009 that Ismaël Omar Mostefaï, one of the three suicide bombers who attacked the Batalcan concert hall in Paris, had been radicalised in a group in France led by a veteran jihadist with a history of planning terrorist attacks, Mediapart can reveal. Mostefaï had also been spotted with the group when it was under surveillance in April 2014, and the authorities were later informed that he had almost certainly gone to Syria, at the same time as another future Bataclan bomber. But by late 2014 the secret services no longer knew of his whereabouts. He did not resurface again until November 13th, 2015, when he was part of the coordinated attacks that killed 130 people in Paris. The French authorities, however, deny there was any intelligence blunder. Yann Philippin, Marine Turchi and Fabrice Arfi report.