There was an article that crossed my eyes as I was preparing to have another go at Microsoft (likely tomorrow). With Paris clearly on the retina of all who open their eyes, those who hear the word Paris, will not think of Miss Hilton (except for one Journalist), they will not think of the city of love, or the city of lights. They will think of the 6 terror attacks that have dealt a massive blow to France and those living in Paris, which is to be expected. The French have nothing to be ashamed of, they have a proud heritage and a few mad man tried to deal it a body blow.
Now round two begins and the Guardian gives us: ‘How French intelligence agencies failed before the Paris attacks’, and article by Ewen MacAskill (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/19/how-french-intelligence-agencies-failed-before-the-paris-attacks). Of course the title woke me up, because it is interesting that the limited Intel is already leading to the blame game.
The first blame part is given: “In other words, the failure of the French intelligence agencies is not that they did not have enough data – but that they did not act on what they had“, yet is that correct? Let’s take a look at a few facts.
- “The lack of cooperation between France and Belgium, where some of the attackers were based“, so is that a failing for France or Belgium? Let’s not forget that Belgium houses the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), so as blame goes, the fact that these extremists could decently freely plot next to one of the biggest military big wig places in the world is reasonable cause for alarm.
- “The police had a file on Omar Ismaïl Mostefai even before he traveled to Syria in 2013“, there are two issues here. In the first not every Islamic person is a terrorist, so there is one issue, yet what was known of his move to Syria and how did he get back? Did he get back to France or was he also in Belgium, or did he return via Lyon from Stockholm? There are loads of questions and not enough data. I know at least half a dozen ways to not create flags whilst travelling. In all these situations Omar Ismaïl Mostefai would not have landed on the grid and as such French Intel would remain in the dark for a longer time frame, was this properly investigated by Ewen MacAskill?
Now for his jab against data collection: “Tracking such suspects does not require the collection of the communications data – phone records, emails, Facebook postings, chat lines – of every French citizen, only the suspects“, the problem is that there is no way of knowing, who was in contact with whom else. That data is lacking, in addition, the way the average boy and girl regards their mobile phone, the simple act of stealing a mobile phone is not that much a stretch, so how will data then be available?
- “lack of cooperation between European intelligence agencies“, which is actually a fair point, yet it is not just the lack of cooperation here, in addition there was the statement by Panos Kammenos, the Greek defence minister, which is still remaining unattended by journalists all over the place. Now, in my view the statement was stupid, but was it incorrect? The danger that Jihadists are getting into Europe vie Greece or Italy is a realistic threat, but how to deal with them? The fact that one has a Syrian passport is also a tinderbox as it could light up many national borders at present. Which goes far beyond the French borders.
In addition the last paragraph is also an issue: “Such failures are where the French and US intelligence agencies should be looking, rather than exploiting the tragedy to make the case for bulk data surveillance“, let’s take this to the rationale. 150,000 refugees have declared asylum in Europe, finding 10-20 people within that lot is impossible without a massively improved data capturing system, as well a good support system from their partners all over Europe. That list becomes a lot more complex once we look beyond for these people on less stable parameters, so the French can’t really continue without a massive overhaul of DGSE and I don’t mean this in a negative way. The UK has a much more compartmentalised system. The UK, just like Australia is ‘home is girt by sea’, which gives them an advantage. France does not have this and as we realise that Belgium intelligence is not that operational, additional methods must be employed. Even as GCHQ is in service towards both MI5 and MI6, the French system (DGSI and DGSI) need to merge with a more powerful version of their ‘upgraded’ version of GCHQ. So as Ewen MacAskill, as the intelligence correspondent of the Guardian fails to enlighten its readers of that part, as well as smooth over the European terrain by leaving out the Panos Kammenos we must all consider these parts. Now in this case it is not about having a go at Panos Kammenos (even though it is good fun to do that), the issue Greece does have is not one they can counter because of their weakened economic state. It is a side we cannot ignore. Greece is not alone, as hundreds of thousands of refugees cross the borders all over Europe, the reality of hundreds of Islamic state passing the borders in similar ways is a given. The first issue is data, it starts with collected papers and biometrics. Ewan fails in addition with the statement “rather than exploiting the tragedy to make the case for bulk data surveillance“, I am willing to entertain the thought, but data is key here. Not just on the people involved, but also on the people they interact with.
That part can be found when we consider the events around the honourable Mr. Wissam H. Fattouh, Secretary General of the Union of Arab Banks. In his YouTube speeches, in one of them we see: ‘Microenterprises projects due to the importance of these enterprises in the future of the Arab region‘, which is an essential need, because all nations need growth, and if the Arabian nations become stagnant, we will see an escalation that Europe cannot counter. Yet there is another side here. This was shown by the Egyptian Daily News (at http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2015/09/19/concerns-over-islamic-state-funds-entering-arab-banks-for-terrorist-operations-uab-secretary-general/), where we see the quote: “The Union of Arab Banks (UAB) is worried about militant ”Islamic State” (IS) funds entering banks and being used to attract young people to carry out terrorist operations, said Wissam H. Fattouh, Secretary-General of the UAB“, in addition there is “the movement of funds across the border is uncontrolled, due to a lack of international laws to regulate this process“, so again, here is where Ewen failed. In all his rhetoric regarding French Failure, the fact that this needed serious funding, the fact that the funding crossed several European borders, an issue given to us by at least two white haired lame duck presidents who did not achieve ANYTHING regarding serious overhaul of banking and finance laws. They cannot be held responsible for Europe, but Europe took their pages from Wall Street, where the US presidents (plural) could have made a massive impact (but did not), in the state of debt the US is, this would never be a successful venture. These elements are all affecting France, because the money flows and it flows in many unmonitored ways, which is also part of the problem.
So after one week, we see pain, anguish and blame, the only resolve is coming from the French who are standing up proudly for THEIR France, Christians and Muslims alike, or did we all forget that it was 24 year old Muslim Lassana Bathily who kept the customers safe during the Charlie Hedbo attacks!
Yes, I believe that France must overhaul its systems and data is at the centre of it all, because if both DGSI and DGSE are working on the premise that their neighbours are unable to keep their streets clean, France better get prepared with a better data system, in that bulk data surveillance will be an essential need. In addition, that need is escalating because there is a second side to all this. There was a reason that Mr. Wissam H. Fattouh and Wall Street were mentioned. You see, three weeks ago the Financial Times reported on the break-up powers regarding banks (at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/06d6f790-7e53-11e5-a1fe-567b37f80b64.html). The quote “A controversial European Union bid to hand regulators more power to break up big banks has been given a shot in the arm after Brussels legislators agreed a preliminary deal following months of deadlock and fierce lobbying from the financial industry“. This is a problem on a few sides when we regard the lack of scruples bankers tend to have. If they are pushed in a corner they will take any deal that brings them wealth. If that requires an ISIS brokerage, the chance that some banker will take his 13% is not that far-fetched and as ‘easy’ as it was not for those funding ISIS, it seems to me that they will get additional options in the future, something Ewan did not reveal (which was not what his article was about), yet in light of the French events that item is a lot more important and visible than the emotional fishing expedition regarding a French failure, something I am not convinced of, even less when we watch the Belgium intelligence failure (the fact that Belgium never detained some of the French terrorists, nor did the Belgians inform French authorities of their concerns), a fact that we get from the quote: “We knew they were radicalized, and that they could go to Syria,” said Eric van der Sypt, spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office. “But they showed no sign of possible threat. Even if we had signaled them to France, I doubt that we could have stopped them” (source: politico.eu), I reckon that a hundred plus fallen French citizens might disagree with Mr van der Sypt there.
My assessment is that there was no clear failure from France, there was a European Failure to properly communicate issues across borders, which is a lot more dangerous when we consider the 150,000 refugees all over the place, not to mention the 2 million plus in refugee centres all over the Middle East. So when I stated in 2014 that there is a clear and present danger in Jordan, I was not kidding. Too bad certain elements are not considering the whole picture, just the part that can be fingered for a few quick points, which will get plenty of other people killed sooner rather than later.