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Viewing cable 06PARIS7579, GOF C/T COORDINATOR,S OVERVIEW OF TERRORISM THREAT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06PARIS7579 2006-11-29 11:11 2010-12-09 12:12 SECRET Embassy Paris
VZCZCXYZ0001
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHFR #7579/01 3331108
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 291108Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3427
INFO RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEILB/NCTC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEATRS/DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 1033
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE IMMEDIATE 3217
RUEAWJA/DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
S E C R E T PARIS 007579

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

S/CT MARC NORMAN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/29/2016
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL FR
SUBJECT: GOF C/T COORDINATOR,S OVERVIEW OF TERRORISM THREAT

REF: A. PARIS POINTS NOV 22

B. PARIS 7425

Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Josiah Rosenblatt for Reaso
ns 1.4 (b) and (d)

SUBJECT: GOF C/T COORDINATOR,S OVERVIEW OF TERRORISM THREAT

1. (S) Summary: Christophe Chaboud, the Ministry of
Interior's counter-terrorism coordinating chief, told us on
November 20 that GOF authorities remain extremely concerned
about the threat of terrorism on French soil and are actively
taking measures to combat current and future threats.
Radical Islamists are still the principal threat to French
interests at home and abroad. Chaboud reported that the
2003-2004 uptick in fighters from France to Iraq appears to
have lost momentum, and that there are no signs that the GSPC
is actively targeting France. The C/T chief also reviewed
improvements to airport security, as well as ETA and PKK
activities. End Summary.

RADICAL ISLAMIC THREAT

2. (S) On November 20, poloff met for an introductory call
with Christophe Chaboud, the head of France's C/T
coordination unit, or UCLAT. (Note: UCLAT is the Ministry of
Interior's nexus for all counter-terrorism operations,
analysis, and exchanges.) Chaboud set the tone for the
discussion by quickly establishing that radical Islamists
remained the principal threat to France and French interests
around the world, particularly in the Middle East. While
intelligence analysis suggested there were no active known
networks operating in France, Chaboud said the GOF was taking
aggressive preventative measures to ensure that authorities
are not caught off guard. GSPC,s announcement of its
joining with al-Qaeda and highlighting France as its number
one enemy, was extremely worrisome, however, French
intelligence officials had not noted any signs of increasing
activity.

FRENCH JIHADISTS
----------------

3. (S) There were now "very few" known cases of French
nationals going to Iraq, according to Chaboud. In 2003-2005,
the GOF intelligence community was deeply concerned about the
radicalization of young French Muslims to the point that some
joined the jihad in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said. The trend
appears to have faded since then. Aside from the recent
October 20 arrests of three French nationals in Damascus (see
ref A), Chaboud said, French officials were not aware of any
other recent cases. He praised Syrian officials for their
efficiency in arresting the young French men, who were
apparently taken into custody after only a few days in Syria,
and credited intense U.S. pressure as motivation for the
Syrians' haste. Chaboud added that, for the moment, there
was no evidence that any of the three men had connections to
previously known networks in France; more likely, they had
found their path to Iraq through very informal channels.
Asked about the reason for the downturn in numbers going to
Iraq, Chaboud said he believed that harsh punishment from
French authorities, the deaths of their "brothers" in Iraq,
and a local lack of support among most French Muslims, must
certainly have had an effect. (Note: Two of the three French
nationals were reportedly expelled to France on November 22,
and despite a lack of notification by Syrian authorities,
were arrested after landing in France.)

PREVENTION: IMAM EXPULSIONS
---------------------------

4. (S) Chaboud proudly touted the expulsion of 54 imams from
France since 2001. The imams were expelled from France for
allegedly preaching radical Islamic ideas. (Note: In at
least one highly publicized case, an expelled imam told local
media that the Koran sanctioned the submission of women
through force.) Chaboud noted that while the majority of
expelled imams were Algerian, a handful came from Turkey,
Morocco, Tunisia and "one or two Gulf countries." He added
that France was far ahead of other EU states, in particular
the UK, in taking necessary action against foreign nationals
who advocated "radical ideologies." Another 12 imams are
reportedly awaiting deportation.

PREVENTION: AIRPORT SECURITY
----------------------------

5. (S) When asked about the current, very public, controversy
(see ref B) surrounding the suspension of security clearances
of 72 Muslim workers at Paris, Charles de Gaulle airport,
Chaboud confirmed this had occurred chiefly on UCLAT's
recommendation. Since the 2005 London bombings, he said,
there clearly has been a need to focus on security in
sensitive locations. Given CDG's stature in the world, and
its past as an origination point for the December 2001 "shoe
bomber," Chaboud stressed that dramatic steps had to be taken
to avoid future attacks. "I asked myself, what I would do if
I was a terrorist; how I would get past airport security,"
Chaboud said. The answer was simple, he replied -- to
clearly identify and exploit airport employees who might be
sympathetic to the "cause."

6. (S) After more than a year of investigation, UCLAT had
concluded that at least 72 workers were vulnerable to
exploitation because of their deep, and at least somewhat
radical, religious convictions, Chaboud stated. He added
that while they were not themselves terrorists, they appeared
to be extreme enough in their comportment outside of work to
lead authorities to conclude that they might aid or abet
terrorists. Chaboud readily admitted that GOF authorities
were creating new territory and that the judiciary had its
own role to play, but he onetheless adamantly defended the
recommendations that led to the revocation of security
clearances. (Note: In the cases of 11 of the 72 employees
who have filed legal grievances, the local Prefet voluntarily
gave back security clearances to two individuals. A separate
judgement has demanded that two others also be reinstated).

ETA STEPS UP ACTIVITY IN FRANCE
-------------------------------

7. (S) ETA, Chaboud said, appears to have become more active
in France over the past several months. He repeated the
standard French policy line that ETA is a Spanish domestic
issue and not a political question for France. That said, he
noted that there was intense operational dialogue between
France and Spain about cross-border activity. Chaboud said
he was convinced that ETA is using the time for negotiating a
political truce to replenish its stockpile of weapons,
vehicles, and false travel documents. "I have warned the
Spanish," Chaboud stressed, and said he would continue to
advise them about developments in the French Basque country.
(Note: Recent press reports speculate that in addition to the
rise in stolen property, ETA wishes to directly involve Paris
in the negotiations, something the French refuse outright.)

PKK: "THEY KNOW NOT TO GO TOO FAR"
----------------------------------

8. (S) Chaboud said that PKK members in France knew the GOF
was prepared to act if they "go too far." France certainly
did not want to provoke the PKK, which has never attacked
France or French interests, but had made clear that certain
activities would not be allowed on French soil. He added
that the GOF had taken some steps in the past year to
break-up money laundering operations by PKK members. It was a
message he insisted the PKK understands. "France is not an
important country for the PKK; Germany is. We do not have
the kind of PKK members they have there; we have the
intellectuals; it is our tradition," Chaboud said.

COMMENT
-------

9. (S) Chaboud expressed confidence that France was taking
appropriate measures in the fight against terrorism, adding
that legislation passed in 2006 had gone a long way to codify
current practices and pave the way for increased electronic
surveillance. He noted that cooperation with the U.S. and
the G-6 was excellent, but indicated there was still a great
deal of work to be done with intelligence officials in the
Maghreb.


Please visit Paris' Classified Website at:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm
STAPLETON