Keyword: Iraq

Why so few French jihadists have returned from Syria

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Ruins in the Syrian city of Raqqa, once a bastion of Islamic State. © Reuters Ruins in the Syrian city of Raqqa, once a bastion of Islamic State. © Reuters

Following the military rout of the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and Iraq, large numbers of French jihadists were forecast to return home. But in fact, those who have made the journey back represent relatively few of the estimated 700 who joined the ranks of IS in the Middle East. Since 2016, just 64 men and women jihadists have returned – and only seven so far this year. One principal reason is the logistical difficulties for those fleeing the zone and the high fees demanded by people smugglers. But the situation presents a potential security threat in that those who escape by their own means can become invisible to intelligence services.   Matthieu Suc reports.

 

Iraqi court sentences French woman to life for joining IS group

Mélina Boughedir, who left her home in France with her four children in 2015 to follow her husband to Iraq, was sentenced to life by Iraqi court.

The search for truth about the 'disappeared' of Mosul

By Jérémy André
This sinkhole at Khasfa, close to Mosul in northern Iraq, is believed to contain the remains of around 4,000 victims of IS. © Jérémy André This sinkhole at Khasfa, close to Mosul in northern Iraq, is believed to contain the remains of around 4,000 victims of IS. © Jérémy André

Many thousands of people disappeared without trace during the occupation of large parts of Iraq by the Islamic State (IS) group between 2013 and 2017, most of them feared buried in hundreds of mass graves around the country which remain unexcavated. But among the lost, whose families continue to seek news of their fate, are also former captives of the jihadists, who are now detained in Iraqi prisons suspected of being members of IS. The increasingly desperate families of the vanished are demanding action to establish the truth about what happened to their relatives, and the mounting anger has become an issue in this weekend’s parliamentary elections in the country. Jérémy André reports from the city of Mosul in northern Iraq.

German intelligence document reports Iraq approved funding of Mitterrand campaign

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François Mitterrand in 1974. François Mitterrand in 1974.

In 1974, the Ba’ath party regime in power in Iraq approved a payment of 1 million dollars to fund the presidential election campaign that year of the late French socialist leader François Mitterrand, according to a document from the intelligence services of the former West Germany, the BND, obtained by Mediapart and German weekly Der Spiegel. The document refers to an intercepted message sent by Baghdad to its embassy in Paris. While it is not known whether Mitterrand’s campaign ever benefited from the reportedly earmarked funds, the BND document raises further questions about the extent of Iraq’s established close and secret relations with French political parties of Left and Right over several decades. Amélie Poinssot reports.

France's plans to deal with Islamic State's 'child assassins'

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Image from an Islamic State propaganda video broadcast in December 2016. © DR Image from an Islamic State propaganda video broadcast in December 2016. © DR

A jihadist from Toulouse in south-west France who fought in Syria has claimed that Islamic State has been planning attacks to be carried out by children in Europe. Though only one suspicious case has been found among the 70 or so minors who have returned to France from the Syria and Iraq battle zones so far, the French authorities are taking the threat seriously. According to Mediapart's information, children aged as young as 13 could be placed in custody when they arrive in France from that region. Matthieu Suc reports.

The dilemma for Paris over French jihadists captured in Syria and Iraq

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An Islamic State propaganda photo of one of its sharpshooters. © DR An Islamic State propaganda photo of one of its sharpshooters. © DR

In the wake of the military defeats of the Islamic State group in the Middle East, a total of about 100 French nationals, including jihadist fighters, women and children, are now detained in Iraq and in Kurd-controlled territory in Syria. Their situation represents a dilemma for the French government, which is tempted to leave them in the hands of their captors and their justice systems, but which is under pressure from lawyers acting for their families who argue that to do so is unlawful and inhumane. Michel Deléan and Matthieu Suc report on the debate, and hear the arguments, which include security concerns, for and against their return.

Secret services fear Islamic State 'travel agency' could return jihadists to France

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A jihadist in a tunnel underneath the former Islamic State-held city of Mosul. A jihadist in a tunnel underneath the former Islamic State-held city of Mosul.

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.

The threat from Islamic State's 'fifth column' in Europe

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Eight of the terrorists behind attacks against Europe. From left to right and from top to bottom: Oussama Atar, Boubakeur el-Hakim, Salim Benghalem, Samir Nouad, Abdelnacer Benyoucef, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, Najim Laachraoui and Ahmad Alkhald. © DR Eight of the terrorists behind attacks against Europe. From left to right and from top to bottom: Oussama Atar, Boubakeur el-Hakim, Salim Benghalem, Samir Nouad, Abdelnacer Benyoucef, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, Najim Laachraoui and Ahmad Alkhald. © DR

Jihadi veterans have been seeking to cause disarray among European intelligence agencies with hoax attacks that distract from real ones and attempts to infiltrate public agencies and companies. As a result security official are having huge difficulties in trying to measure the true scale of the terrorist threat that faces us. In the last of this lengthy series of investigations on Islamic State's intelligence operations, Matthieu Suc reports on the dangers still posed by jihadist agents operating within Europe despite Islamic State's major reverses in Iraq and Syria.

French paratrooper killed in Iraq-Syria military zone

Soldier from 13th regiment of paratroopers was the first French casualty since the anti-Islamic State 'Operation Chammal' was launched in 2014.

How Islamic State's secret services hunt down informers

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The French sniper who was the bodyguard of chief interrogator Abu Ubaida al-Maghribi. © DR The French sniper who was the bodyguard of chief interrogator Abu Ubaida al-Maghribi. © DR

The Islamic State employs the techniques of Western secret services to track down potential informers. This includes using CIA-inspired interrogation methods and agent provocateurs, and carrying out background checks on prisoners and new recruits from Europe. But as Matthieu Suc reports in this second article on the jihadist organisation's secret services, this does not mean they are always immune from double agents.

France pledges support to stabilize post-Islamic State Iraq

On visit to Baghdad foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France would help reconstruction and reconciliation efforts in Iraq.

Minister says 271 jihadi militants have returned to France

Interior minister Gérard Collomb says all the militants back from war zones in Iraq and Syria are subject to investigation by public prosecutors.

French national detained in Turkey after crossing from Iraq

Man, who had photographs of and interviews with Kurdish militia fighters on him, has appeared in court on suspicion of aiding a terrorist group.

Hollande: fighting IS in Iraq prevents terrorism in France

Hollande spoke as he met French soldiers in Iraq who are part of a US-led 60-member coalition carrying out air strikes against Islamic State.

Hollande to visit French troops in Iraq Monday

In last New Year message of presidency, Hollande also paid tribute to those killed in terror attacks this year, including the 86 who died in Nice.