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Viewing cable 05PARIS8442, FRANCE: 2005 COUNTRY REPORT ON TERRORISM

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05PARIS8442 2005-12-14 13:01 2010-11-30 16:04 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Paris
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 PARIS 008442 

SIPDIS 

STATE FOR S/CT RHONDA SHORE AND ED SALAZAR 

E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PTER ASEC KCRM EFIN FR
SUBJECT: FRANCE: 2005 COUNTRY REPORT ON TERRORISM 

REF: STATE 193439 

1. (U) Per reftel, enclosed is the 2005 country report on 
terrorism for France. Embassy point of contact is Poloff 
Peter Kujawinski, who can be reached on either the classified 
or unclassified e-mail systems. 

France - 2005 

OVERVIEW 

In 2005, France continued to discover and dismantle terror 
networks present on its soil, including several that 
recruited jihadists to Iraq. Following the July bombings in 
London, French officials worked closely with their British 
counterparts. They also perceived a number of deficiencies 
in their counterterrorism capabilities, and proposed 
legislation to remedy these deficiencies. This legislation 
is expected to enter into force in early 2006. From March 
on, the French government has worked to draft a white book on 
terrorism, with publication expected by the end of the year. 
A conference in October about the white book underscored the 
French government,s belief that terrorism is a primary 
strategic threat to France, and that dealing with it is 
consequentially a central priority. France consults 
extensively with the U.S. on terrorism, at the tactical and 
strategic level. In general, counterterrorism cooperation 
between the U.S. and France is excellent. 

INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITIES 

France continues to be an active and engaged participant in 
the international war against terrorism. On the military 
front, its special forces participate in counterterrorist 
operations in Afghanistan and as a part of Task Force 150, a 
multinational naval force that patrols the Red Sea and the 
Persian Gulf to interdict the movement of suspected 
terrorists from Afghanistan to the Arabian Peninsula. In 
Afghanistan, French Mirage-2000 fighters have flown with USAF 
fighters to assist American and Afghan ground troops. At the 
political and diplomatic level, France continues its 
engagement within the UNSC Counterterrorism Committee and the 
G-8,s Counterterrorism Action Group. France is a party to 
all 12 international conventions and protocols relating to 
terrorism. 

France and the United States continue to cooperate closely on 
border security issues, including aviation security and the 
Container Security Initiative. French police and security 
services have been very responsive to US requests. In 
addition, France is active internationally in proposing 
bioterrorism safeguards and nuclear facility safeguards. The 
U.S. and France continue their dialogue on nuclear security 
cooperation. 

On terrorism financing, France continues to develop the 
competencies and capabilities of TRACFIN, the Ministry of 
Finance,s terrorism financing coordination and investigation 
unit. TRACFIN has expanded the number of economic sectors it 
monitors within the French economy, with a particular 
emphasis on institutions, non-governmental organizations and 
small enterprises suspected of having ties to Islamic 
terrorism. It has also strengthened its coordination with 
justice and security officials. Within the European Union, 
France plays an active role in the Clearinghouse, the EU,s 
terrorism financing coordination body. France has designated 
as terrorist groups those that appear on the EU list of 
terrorist organizations. France has not designated 
Hamas-affiliated charities, such as the French-based Comite 
de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens, arguing that 
they have no proven links to terrorism. France also opposes 
EU designation of Lebanese Hizballah as a terrorist 
organization, though it supports Hizballah's eventual 
disarmament, which the GoF maintains will be the result of 
Hizballah's gradual integration into Lebanese politics. 

French authorities consistently condemn terrorist acts and 
have made no public statements in support of a 
terrorist-supporting country on a terrorism issue. 
Nevertheless, France, along with its EU partners, retains 
diplomatic relations with all of the governments designated 
as state sponsors of terrorism, with the exception of North 
Korea. It continues to cooperate closely with the United 
States in pressing for the implementation of UN Security 
Council Resolution 1559, which targeted Syrian domination of 
Lebanon and called for the dismantlement of armed groups and 
militias in Lebanon (including Hizballah) and extension of 
Lebanese government control throughout Lebanese territory, to 
include areas under the de facto control of Hizballah. 

French and Spanish authorities have jointly made significant 
progress in combatting Basque separatist groups, including 
the ETA. French-Spanish investigative teams focusing on 
al-Qaida-related groups and Basque separatist groups continue 
to function. In the first use of the EU arrest warrant for 
terrorism, French authorities extradited ETA suspect Unai 
Berrosteguieta Eguiara to Spain on February 18. 

DOMESTIC ACTIVITIES 

France is perhaps best known for its counterterrorism police 
forces and judiciary. Within the Ministry of Interior, the 
DST (internal security service), RG (police intelligence), 
DNAT (counterterrorism brigade) and Brigade Criminelle 
(criminal investigations) all play important roles in French 
counterterrorism work. A number of organizations coordinate 
the activities of the counterterrorist forces, including 
UCLAT (a counterterrorism coordination unit with the Ministry 
of Interior), the SGDN (attached to the office of the Prime 
Minister) and the Council for Internal Security (attached to 
the office of the President.) Although there is little 
legislative oversight of intelligence and security agencies, 
Interior Minister Sarkozy proposed in late November the 
creation of an oversight working group that will include 
members of French intelligence and legislators. Sarkozy 
promised to submit a draft law on this issue by February 15, 
2006. 

The counterterrorism section of the Paris Prosecutor,s 
office usually leads the French government,s terrorism 
investigations. Investigative judges, who in the French 
system combine prosecutorial and judicial powers, concentrate 
on Islamic/international terrorism, Basque/ETA terrorism and 
terrorism linked to Corsican separatist groups. Their 
mandate is extensive, and includes terrorist acts on French 
soil and acts abroad that affect French citizens. Their 
powers are substantial and they are given wide freedom to 
investigate. They cooperate closely with French police and 
security services. In March, then-Justice Minister Dominique 
Perben announced the hiring of four additional terrorism 
investigating judges, along with additional support staff, 
bringing the number of specialized terrorism investigating 
judges to nine. 

French police and intelligence services within the Interior 
Ministry have extensive powers of surveillance, monitoring 
and detention. These powers were enhanced with the 2004 
passage of the Perben II law and include expanded detention 
(up to four days before charges must be brought), more 
authority for police to go undercover, warrants for searches 
at night, more leeway in granting document searches, and 
increased authority to wiretap. These expanded powers are to 
be used only in cases that involve investigation of 
organizations "that imperil society," such as the mafia, drug 
traffickers and terrorist organizations. Even if government 
authorities are found to have misused their new powers, any 
evidence they have found would still be accepted in court. 

The French government continues its policy of expulsions for 
non-French citizens engaged in activities that promote hate. 
Interior Minister Sarkozy stated in August that France was 
monitoring dozens of radical imams. He also announced 
October 4 that 19 Islamic extremists had been expelled from 
France since the beginning of the year; 102 have been 
expelled since 2002. In March, the CSA, France,s 
FCC-equivalent, ordered the Eutelstat satellite company to 
cease transmitting Sahar 1, an Iranian television station, 
because of its anti-Semitic and hate-filled broadcasting. 
Following the CSA,s banning of Hizballah-affiliated Al-Manar 
satellite television, Hizballah deputies lobbied the French 
government in 2005 to lift the ban. Separately, the Conseil 
d,Etat, France,s highest administrative court, is reviewing 
an appeal by Al-Manar to reinstate its broadcasting license. 

France remains worried over the rise of radical Islam. 
According to a November 12 press report, the RG, France,s 
police intelligence service, kept 350 places under 
surveillance (including 42 Islamic prayer halls and 300 
businesses) during the first seven months of 2005 because of 
suspicions of radical Islamist activity. The RG estimates 
that, of the approximately 5 million Muslims in France, 
200,000 are practicing and of that number, between 5,000 and 
9,000 are linked to extremist causes. 

French officials are also concerned regarding the role of 
prisons in converting petty criminals to jihadism. Prisons 
served as a center of recruitment for the Safe Bourrada 
terror network (dismantled in late September, see below). 
According to statistics provided by the Ministry of Justice 
in September, 358 people are imprisoned for terrorism; 159 
are Basque-related, 94 are Islamic extremists and 76 are 
Corsica-related. France has proposed several measures to 
address Islamic extremism in prisons, including the 
establishment of a corps of moderate Muslim prison chaplains. 

The July bombings in London caused many French officials to 
reexamine their counterterrorism capabilities. In addition 
to the initial reaction of elevating the Vigipirate alert 
system and coordinating closely with British officials, the 
French government soon proposed a new counterterrorist bill 
that calls for increasing video surveillance in public areas, 
allowing police more access to phone and Internet records, 
and more closely monitoring international travel by ship, 
rail and plane. 
Under French law, terrorism suspects may be detained for up 
to 96 hours before charges are filed. The new bill making 
its way through the legislature proposes extending the 
96-hour period an additional 48 hours, for a maximum total 
detention of 144 hours. Suspects can be held for up to three 
and a half years in pretrial detention while the 
investigation against them continues. Other proposed 
measures in the bill include increasing the maximum penalty 
for association with a terrorist enterprise from 10 to 20 
years in prison, and increasing the maximum penalty for 
terrorist enterprise organizers from 20 to 30 years in 
prison. The National Assembly approved the bill in late 
November. The Senate is expected to take up discussion of 
the bill in December, with probable approval in January 2006. 

Another reaction to the July bombings in London was a 
decision by the French government to encourage the heads of 
its domestic intelligence agencies - RG and the DST - to take 
on more public roles, in order to sensitize the public to the 
threat of terrorism. In a related action, the French 
government, in coordination with a local think-tank, opened a 
public website focused on the details of past terrorist acts, 
at https://bdt.frstrategie.org 

French police and security officials conducted a large-scale 
exercise in November that simulated multiple chemical attacks 
throughout Paris. Local prefectures, especially Paris, have 
instituted PRM, a French acronym for "plan red - multiple" 
that focuses attention on the prospect of multiple attacks, 
either simultaneous or sequential. A similar large-scale 
chemical attack simulation took place May 9 in the Val 
d,Oise region. In addition, the Paris Prefecture has 
created a specialized NRBC unit of firefighters. 

MAJOR COUNTERTERRORIST ACTIONS - 2005 

On January 26, French police arrested eleven people (three of 
whom were eventually charged with terrorism conspiracy) in 
Paris, 19th arrondissement for reportedly recruiting young 
French residents to launch terrorist attacks in Iraq. It was 
the first arrest since the opening in September 2004 of an 
investigation by the Paris Prosecutor,s office into 
"jihadists to Iraq." French intelligence, security and 
judicial authorities have consistently identified the 
conflict in Iraq as an attractive force for French jihadists. 
French officials stated in November that 22 young people had 
left for Iraq, and at least seven had been killed there, 
including two suicide bombers. 

Djamel Beghal, the ringleader of a group arrested in 2001 on 
suspicion of planning to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Paris, was 
convicted March 15 of "terrorist conspiracy," and received a 
maximum 10-year sentence. His five accomplices were all 
found guilty as well, and received sentences ranging from one 
year to nine years in prison. 

The last three French nationals detained at Guantanamo were 
transferred to French custody on March 7, following the 
transfer of four nationals in 2004. France released Mustaq 
Ali Patel in March and Imad Kanouni in July. The other five 
remain in pretrial detention and may be charged with 
terrorist conspiracy. The former Guantanamo detainees, 
detention has withstood multiple appeals by defense lawyers. 
France has been one of the most aggressive and proactive 
countries in prosecuting its citizens formerly held by the 
U.S. at Guantanamo. 

On April 24, French police in Paris arrested Said 
al-Maghrebi, an Afghanistan training camp veteran, on 
suspicion of organizing potential jihadists to fight in Iraq. 
Four others reportedly belonging to al-Maghrebi,s network 
were arrested in Paris and Marseilles. Two were later 
released. 

A French court on May 16 declared five people guilty of 
organizing logistic support for the suicide bombers who 
assassinated Afghan Commander Ahmad Sheikh Massoud on 
September 9, 2001. The five were sentenced to between two 
and nine years imprisonment. 

On May 20, a Paris court condemned Corsican nationalist 
Charles Pieri to 10 years in prison for terrorism finance 
conspiracy and extortion. 

French police arrested Hamid Bach on June 21 in the city of 
Montpellier on suspicions of organizing a terrorist ring 
focused on attacking targets in France and sending potential 
jihadists to Iraq. 

French police arrested 9 people in late September on 
suspicion of belonging to a terrorist group. According to 
press reports, the group, reportedly led by GSPC sympathizer 
and convicted terrorist Safe Bourrada, was in the initial 
phases of planning terrorist attacks against targets in 
France, including the Paris Metro, Orly airport and the 
headquarters of the DST, France,s internal security service. 
Four more suspected members of the Bourrada network were 
arrested in early October. 

On November 29, French police arrested six people suspected 
of financing extremist and terrorist causes. One of them was 
a prison guard and two were former Islamic chaplains. The 
group reportedly had visited Bosnia and attempted to recruit 
jihadists to Iraq. The group belonged to the fundamentalist 
Tabligh movement. 

British authorities transferred Rashid Ramda to French 
custody on December 1. Ramda is the suspected financier of 
the 1995 GIA attacks in the Saint-Michel RER train station, 
the Musee d,Orsay RER train station and the Maison-Blanche 
metro station. Ramda had been in British custody for the 
last ten years, and his extradition to France removes a major 
irritant in French-British relations. 

On December 12, French police arrested approximately 25 
people, in the largest terror-related sweep in Europe since 
the aftermath of the Madrid bombings in 2004. Those arrested 
are suspected of involvement with terrorist financing. The 
reported ringleader is Ouassini Cherifi, a French-Algerian 
who had spent time in prison for passport fraud. French 
police suspect he, like Safe Bourrada, recruited low-level 
criminals to his network while in prison. 

Judicial investigations following the arrests in 2003 of 
German national Christian Ganczarski and Moroccan national 
Karim Mehdi continued in 2005. Ganczarski and Mehdi, who are 
suspected of ties to al-Qaida, remain in pretrial detention 
in France. 

The judicial investigation into the activities of six 
suspected members of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group 
(GICM) arrested in 2004 continues. The six suspects are 
being held in pretrial detention and are thought to have 
provided logistical support to those who committed the 
attacks against Madrid trains on March 11, 2004. 

Investigations into the "Chechen network," a loose grouping 
that is reported to have links with the Beghal network and 
the Frankfurt network (which attempted in 2000 to attack 
cultural sites in Strasbourg, including the cathedral) have 
concluded, although a trial date for those arrested has not 
been set. Members of the Chechen network reportedly were 
interested in using chemical agents to commit terrorist 
attacks. Several suspected members of the Chechen network 
were arrested in France in 2005. 

Corsica continues to experience low-level terrorist 
activities. Recent attacks have occurred against peoples of 
North African ancestry. The FLNC Union of Combatants claimed 
responsibility for firing a rocket on September 29 at the 
prefecture in Ajaccio. The rocket attack did not cause any 
injuries, although it exploded a few meters from where the 
prefect and a receptionist were working. 
Please visit Paris' Classified Website at: 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm 

Stapleton