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.
French President Emmanuel Macron has warned that if France 'proven evidence that chemical weapons proscribed in treaties are used, we will strike the place where they are made' following reports that signs that chlorine bombs had been used against civilians by the Damascus regime.
Defence minister Florence Parly said France was monitoring the situation 'closely and that the air strikes 'need to end'.
In TV interview foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said 'all indications' suggested that the Syrian regime used the poison gas.
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 33-year-old daughter of a gendarme is 'being held in a Kurdish camp and has been 'interrogated and tortured' says her mother.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad the 'enemy' of his people and described comments by Assad that France's 'hands are soaked in Syrian blood' as 'unacceptable'.
In a recorded television interview broadcast on Sunday by the France 2 channel, French President Emmanuel Macron said that following the rout of the so-called Islamic State group in Iraq 'I think that by the middle to the end of February, we will have won the war in Syria', adding that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad 'will have to respond to his crimes before his people, before the international courts'.
A French investigation into alleged payments to jihadist groups, including Islamic State, by French cement-making giant Lafarge in order to ensure the functioning of one of its plants in Syria is focussing on a fund of more than 15 million dollars set aside by the company for its operations in the war-torn country, according to documents obtained by Mediapart. Fabrice Arfi reports.
In June prosecutors launched an investigation into LafargeHolcim’s Syrian operations and its possible 'financing of a terrorist enterprise'.
Two former executives at giant French cement manufacturers Lafarge and the head of its security – a former election candidate for Marine Le Pen's far-right Front National – have been formally placed under investigation for alleged “financing of terrorism”. It follows an investigation by French prosecutors into links between the French group – now merged with a Swiss firm – and jihadist groups such as Islamic State. In 2013 and 2014 the cement group maintained its activities in zones in Syria which were at the time controlled by IS and other armed factions. Fabrice Arfi, Michel Deléan and Julien Antoine report.
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.
A Paris court on Friday sentenced Christine Rivière, 51, nicknamed 'Jihadi Granny', to a maximum ten years in jail for 'association with criminals preparing a terrorist attack' after she encouraged her son's activities within the ranks of the Islamic State group in Syria, where she later joined him on several occasions.
Soldier from 13th regiment of paratroopers was the first French casualty since the anti-Islamic State 'Operation Chammal' was launched in 2014.
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.