The victims of the Paris attacks, not to mention those of the jihadist and Qaedist massacres in Madrid (2004) and London (2005) are the tragic evidence that the strategic certainties of the old bilateral world are really over.
This means that any State or any terrorist group – albeit small or technologically “backward” – can harshly hit a large nation, regardless of the size and quality of its defense and intelligence apparatus.
The conflict asymmetry rewards small States and terrorist groups, not the States which won the Cold War and, indeed, also left a void in the key strategic axis between the Eurasian peninsula and Central Asia, thus allowing in it the development of the Shia-Sunni confrontation, at first, and then the development of the sword jihad, the Sunnis’ asymmetric tool against Alì’s Iranian followers and their allies, particularly Russia and China.
The global hegemony over the huge Islamic world is the real stake between the two ancient sections of the Koranic prophecy.
Furthermore, in the French case, the intelligence services were reformed, particularly in view of a widespread terrorist threat – which leads us to believe that the reform of the French intelligence services is not a part of the solution, but part of the problem.
The first instrument of French legislation to counter terrorism, especially the jihadist one, was the Law of July 22, 1996, which envisaged the crime of “terrorist-related criminal association” – a law which allowed to pursue the “criminals” also in the preparatory phase of a terrorist action.
It is worth reiterating that the sword jihad is not mere “terrorism”. Terror is an effect and an operational choice of the jihad, but not the only one.
When the jihadists are even stronger, they will create their own neighborhoods in European suburbs. They will control them and impose their law as the only one, or they will act as a real army, exactly as it happens in the Raqqa Caliphate with specific reference to Al Qaeda’s global terrorism.
It depends on us and on our level of response, in France as in Italy and elsewhere.
Terrorism is a strategy of void which, like water, adapts itself to the container in which it is stored, that is our response to the jihad.
“Lure the tiger off its mountain lair,” as suggested by one of the immortal Thirty-Six Stratagems of Chinese warfare.
However, let us revert to France: the 2006 law on the “localization of terrorist networks” envisaged the possibility for investigators – even without the judges’ immediate authorization – to draw on the telephone and Internet data related to terrorists. In 2008 there was the merger between the Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire (DST) and the Direction Centrale des Renseignements généraux (DCRG).
In French practices and regulations, none of the two structures is a real intelligence service: neither the DST nor the DGRC are the Italian equivalent of SISDE or AISI.
Nevertheless, we are faced with a real paradox: they deal with the “old-style” data, which can be used quickly and effectively by the police, but they forget the “new” data regarding recruitment, terrorist preaching and covert political-religious organization which, unfortunately – also in this new legal configuration – are protected by the authorization of the judges, who often have not all the data available – and the same, however, holds true also for Italy.
“We suffer not only from the living, but from the dead. Le mort saisit le vif!”, as Karl Marx wrote at the beginning of Capital.
In terms of regulations regarding the actual structure of French intelligence services, the essential reform dates back to 2009 with Decree No. 1657 of December 24, 2009, which defined the establishment of the Conseil de Défense et de Sécurité nationale, which is also the body responsible for strategic planning.
In the framework of the fight against the jihad and in the framework of everybody’s pressing economic war against everybody else which characterizes the current times, we need to unite, centralize and verticalize the analysis of the various threats and the response to them.
Nevertheless the jihad is a handmade and unsophisticated war, which is waged with few – and often poor – resources and means (especially in its Qaedist phase) and, when it comes to the Defense Council’s level, it is often too late.
The new French legislation also defines the establishment of the Secrétariat général de la défense et de la sécurité nationale – which is basically the equivalent of the Italian Department of Intelligence for Security (DIS).
Certainly there is a primary need to connect the intelligence services to each other and to the police and law enforcement agencies, as well as to exchange data and build profiles of the jihadists and their organizations. Nevertheless also a pre-terrorist warning system would be needed in relation to the Internet networks – in which much can also be hidden and not appear as a crime – and in the mosques where the control – which is particularly deep, at least in Italy – can be bypassed by some militants more careful than usual.
To put it bluntly, the problem lies in the fact that the Islamist populations are already too many: the possibility for a jihadist to become a militant, be trained, be able to operate under cover, move, travel and carry out propaganda is greater if a large – and often very large – number of his/her Koranic fellow brothers/sisters willy-nilly cover and protect him/her.
It is now impossible to control a mass of data as the one we should check if we monitored all Islamic communities – something which in fact we should do.
Profiling, registration and booking is inevitable, but the terrorists already reported to the authorities, both in France and in Italy, know what to do: they go underground – they change environment and operate with other organizations.
The issue lies in blocking recruitment and training, not in just tracking the old jihadists already known by the law enforcement agencies (albeit this must be done anyway).
Another problem, shared both by France and Italy, is the scarcity of funds for the intelligence services and activities.
Has the blame to be laid on the political culture of those who have come to power in recent years? Has the blame to be certainly laid on a ruling class that sees business everywhere, but does not know that business always requires confidential information? Finally has the blame to be laid on an easy slaying match – a blame game played both in Italy and in France: has something gone wrong? It is the intelligence services’ fault.
In the French legislation, however, the good idea is to merge the two internal services (far too many), but be connected in a centralized manner with the judiciary, possibly with a single chain of command devoted solely to the fight against the jihad.
According to the latest data, the already studied Direction centrale du renseignement intérieur (DCRI) has 3,300 people, including 2,500 operational ones. Too few. They are fewer than the jihadists operating in France.
The real problem, however, lies in the overlapping, duplication of efforts and interference between the DCRI and the Direction générale de la Sécurité extérieure (DGSE).
Despite the central governance structure, which does not deal with the daily routine issues, and despite the merger of the two Internal Services, the DGSE has no structural links with the DCRI repression/intelligence actions in France.
A severe structural flaw, which is probably at the origin of the recent French intelligence failure.
The DGSE certainly received the documents on the attacks from the Iraqi intelligence services – exactly twenty-four hours before the tragedy of the attacks on the Bataclan and the Stade de France, but it did not coordinate its activity and cross-check data with the internal services which, as often happens, are very well informed about the local jihadist networks.
Certainly many terrorists came from Belgium, but a series of controls and checks on the cars rented, for example, or on the recent movements of jihadist militants, well-known to the authorities, would be the minimum necessary to carry out a proper intelligence activity, after the assassinations perpetrated in the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the inconsistent and basically pro-Islamist reaction of the French population.
The slogan Je suis Charlie is nonsense: it does not name the victims, nor indicate the perpetrators. It is only a way to apply a marketing technique to politics – and we fear that this will happen again.
We fear that it will happen again. Je suis Bataclan: a great demonstration, the Celtic rune epitomizing pacifism everywhere, as if – on the contrary – we should not wage a war against the jihad, but simply surrender. So much “political show” and then nothing.
It is by no mere coincidence that, behind the current French State’s laïcité (secularism), there is a mechanism which protects especially the Islam, even the most radical, with the rules on “Islamophobia” – a word which is absolutely meaningless.
After all, in 2014, the French trade with the United Arab Emirates amounted to 5.17 billion euros, with 40% of imports from France in the Gulf. Qatar, which is investing in France massively, has 100 billion US dollar worth of sovereign funds, and definitely wants to diversify its economy, which is still one of the three richest economies in the world, but depends on hydrocarbons for 80% of its revenue.
Do you really think that the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia or other countries in the region do not exert political pressure, also at cultural level, on Israel, on their Sunni enemies within the region, or even on Iran?
While the polemic against Israel and Hebraism has become common currency in France and will shortly become so also in Italy. From a psycho-political viewpoint, this clear message is conveyed: we Europeans, who sing John Lennon’s Imagine, want to be submissive and subdued, but unfortunately the presence of the Jewish communities makes us targets of the jihad.
This is what they want: if the Islamist minority gets rooted in Europe – which will have accepted the expulsion of the Jews for the biblical mess of pottage – the prophecy of the old leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, will be fulfilled : “We do not need to impose the jihad in Europe, it will become Islamic for demographic reasons”.
Hence, as suggested by the para-jihadist propaganda, if we had not the Jews among us, the relationship with Islam would be peaceful and Quranists would come to massively finance our now mature economies.
Tragic mistakes, but subtly present throughout our European political and symbolic communication.
Hence, reverting to the organization and structure of the French intelligence services, the structural lack of cooperation between the DGSE – which has been weakened by the various “reforms” of the internal service – and the DCRI is, in all likelihood, at the origin of the information flaw which led to the Paris massacre of November 13, 2015.
The day of St. Augustine’s birth.
Giancarlo Elia Valori (@GEliaValori)
Honorable of the Académie des Sciences of the Institut de France.