Mohsen Abdelmoumen: Why does France tolerate on its soil the presence of different jihadist movements and terrorists?
Dr. Éric Denécé: You are asking an essential question for which I am unable to find a valid answer. Indeed, France officially fights against extremists and Islamist terrorists... but lets them develop their activities on our soil. There are probably several explanations. First of all, the poor knowledge of Islam among the vast majority of our political leaders, who do not know the difference between its different tendencies, those that are respectable and those that represent a danger. Then, one should not neglect the strategy of entryism and skillful propaganda which the Muslim Brotherhood leads and which partly shows results, in particular because of the naivety of our elites, who think that by allying themselves with them they will have "peace" in our suburbs. Finally, post-colonial guilt is another element that is increasingly holding back a society that doubts its values and no longer knows how to react to some developments that threaten its national cohesion and its future.
In one of your editorials, you referred to Turkey as a rogue State. How do you explain the Western alliance with this rogue State, when Turkey has armed and financed terrorist groups that have destroyed Syria and Iraq? Don't you think that the Westerners have played with fire by allying themselves with Erdogan, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who has only one objective: to establish a caliphate? And how do you explain the troubled game Erdogan is playing in Libya?
Turkey, not just Erdogan's - which is certainly by far the worst - is a State that has flouted international law since 1974, when it invaded part of the island of Cyprus. At the time, the Turks should have been expelled from NATO for invading another member State. But we were in the middle of the Cold War and we did nothing because the Atlantic Alliance, under American leadership, focused on the Soviet threat. This first cowardice was a real betrayal to our Greek friends and began to make the Turks think that anything was possible. Since the arrival of Erdogan, a totally megalomaniac leader and member of the international bureau of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ankara has not ceased to pursue an aggressive and neo-Ottoman policy: erasing all traces of the Kemalist legacy, attacking non-Muslims in Turkey, illegally invading - without any protest from the international community - part of Syrian territory, support ultra-radical jihadist and terrorist groups, supplying arms to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (whose accession to power was undemocratic, contrary to what is still believed in the West) and now supporting and arming a Libyan regime linked to the terrorist brotherhood and intervening militarily at its side, by sending it, in particular, jihadist mercenaries who have already worked under its control in Syria.
Turkey today is an evil State and constitutes a real risk to peace and stability in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. But once again, Westerners are refusing to take the necessary decisions, still under the influence of the Americans and the British, who continue to see Moscow as a threat and fear that if Turkey were ostracized from the West - which must be done - it might throw itself into the arms of Russia.
Some of our sources mention a movement of jihadists from Syria and Iraq to Libya, which has become a terrorist sanctuary. Do not you think that what is happening in Libya threatens the stability of the entire Mediterranean basin, if not the world? Wasn't the intervention in Libya by Sarkozy and his ally Cameron under the aegis of NATO a serious political mistake for which we are currently suffering the consequences?
Obviously, the current situation has its origins in the Western intervention of 2011, which is totally unjustified, unproductive and in some aspects illegal (exceeding UN Resolution 1973). Sarkozy, Cameron but also Obama bear full responsibility of it. They all three have played sorcerers' apprentices and have destabilized North Africa and the Sahel... and now the Mediterranean. The destruction of Libya has created a real terrorist and criminal hotbed (smugglers and migrants) which is growing steadily and which we will take years to eliminate. And more worryingly, it could become a theatre of confrontation between regional powers: Egypt and the Emirates, Turkey and Qatar...
As early as spring 2011, back from Libya where we had visited both camps (Tripoli and the NTC), we never stopped warning about the irresponsible and deplorable policy that the West was conducting and about its foreseeable effects. Unfortunately, we were right…
I saw one of your interviews where you talked about a group you formed after the Arab springs and I read your collective book "La face cachée des révolutions arabes" (The Hidden Face of the Arab Revolutions) published by the CF2R and dedicated to the Arab spring, which became an Islamist winter. You mentioned names such as those of our friend the late Anne-Marie Lizin, whom I interviewed several times, and Madame Saïda Benhabylès. This latter was attacked and accused of being an agent of the French and the name of the Benhabylès family was dragged through the mud on social media by Islamist organizations activating in Europe and by individuals linked to terrorism and to the "Who Kills Whom" thesis, thesis which targets the Algerian army and the Algerian intelligence services. How do you explain that dubious individuals can afford to attack a personality of your group and distort your words, knowing that these dubious individuals themselves have links with Western, Saudi, Moroccan, Qatari and Turkish intelligence services?
Madame Saïda Benhabylès is a woman for whom I have great respect and a friend whom I appreciate very much. In recent weeks she has been the victim of destabilizing actions orchestrated by individuals who are members or close to the Muslim Brotherhood, with an objective that I do not yet fully perceive. Naturally, this is all slander and lies. I was able to observe how these Islamists falsified some of my interviews, translating them into Arabic with totally false or fanciful statements.
I confess that I do not measure the links between these individuals and the "promoters" of "Who Kills Whom". But they remain active in France, after having managed to give a totally distorted view of the Algerian reality of the "black decade". It is, of course, obvious that the most radical Islamists, seeking to impose their stupid and unfounded "values" on other Muslims, have always sought to seize power and thus to attack all those who were an obstacle to their strategy. Fortunately, Algeria did not fall, neither did Syria, and Egypt, thanks to Marshal Sissi, was able to drive them out of power. But they are in power in Turkey and in the Gulf monarchies - despite their doctrinal differences - and continue to spread their deadly ideology throughout the world.
Elements of the Rachad organization, an organization affiliated to the Ummah congress linked to the Muslim Brotherhood of Erdogan and based in Istanbul, did not hesitate to incite the Algerians to take up arms against their army and their State. And Mohamed Larbi Zitout, one of Rachad's leaders, calls the terrorist groups active in the Sahel "national liberation groups". These individuals live in countries such as Great Britain and France. How do you explain the fact that they are not prosecuted, despite their proselytizing for the benefit of Erdogan and the Muslim Brotherhood? Are not these individuals linked to terrorism using your "democratic" system to spread their terrorist ideas?
You give a very clear example of their strategy: proselytism, propaganda and deception, calls for armed struggle and murder, all with the support of the above-mentioned Islamist States... and the total passivity of the West.
The European "elites" - and this is particularly true in France - are without reaction for several reasons:
- they do not know how to act in the face of this phenomenon, as they are characterized by their lack of vision, culture, courage and mediocrity
- they are "asleep" by the money, promises and lies of the Gulf monarchies... and the Americans who persist in supporting them.
- they want to stay in power and tell themselves that if they get the "Muslim vote" (5 to 10 % on average in Europe), they are likely to succeed. Thus, they turn a blind eye or accept behavior that contravenes our rules, values and laws.
- they are obsessed with the risk of the extreme right, which in reality has much less foundation than one might imagine, because the parties that embody it would be incapable of governing. But on the other hand, at each election, they attract more votes from all those who are outraged by the authorities' inaction. These are the ingredients of an explosive situation.
Didn't the individuals who sold the “who kills whom” thesis to Western intelligence services concerning Algeria have several strategic objectives including, among other things, using Taqiya and hiding the true nuisance potential of jihadists in the West, knowing that afterwards we have seen the attacks in Brussels, Paris, London, Berlin, etc., which contradict the theses of "Who kills whom"? Is it not time to reveal the truth to your peoples that jihadism and its ideology exist in your society and that they are fed by different countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey?
For at least a decade, more and more voices have been raised to denounce these dangers and the true ideology of these sectarian and harmful movements. But the politicians, for the reasons I have just mentioned, do not want to hear it. I will give you two edifying examples: in the summer of 2016, François Fillon, the future presidential candidate of the right, opposed, during a vote in the National Assembly, the taking of measures against the Muslim Brotherhood in France. And also in 2016, Jean-Yves Le Drian, then Minister of Defense in a Left-wing government, published a book entitled “Qui est l’ennemi?” (Who is the Enemy?), in which he wonders if France is at war but does not denounce radical Islamism or the archaic monarchies of the Gulf... he doesn't even talk about it! Is it blindness, complicity, stupidity? That's where France is today...
Don't the intelligence services, whether French, Algerian or other, have the same enemy, namely Jihadism and its deadly ideology, whether it comes from the Salafists or the Muslim Brotherhood? Don't you think that cooperation between intelligence services needs to be improved on a win-win basis?
Of course, I do. Moreover, they cooperate closely on this matter... but not in all areas or on all subjects. This is normal because national interests remain different. Counter-terrorism is the area in which cooperation is most advanced, not only between Western countries, but also with Arab countries, including the Gulf States. This may mean that some of the information exchanged is biased. Indeed, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey will never give any information about "their" terrorists, given that these regimes themselves adhere to Salafism or the doctrine of the Muslim Brotherhood. They will only provide information on groups that threaten their regime.
You are an intelligence expert and a geopolitical connoisseur. Weren't Western governments wrong in their handling of the Syrian file?
Totally. There's been a major misjudgment of the situation: thinking that Bashar was going to fall quickly in 2011 showed a lack of knowledge of the Syrian reality. There has also been a major influence from the Gulf States wanting to bring down "secular" Syria, a country in which the cohabitation of religions was intolerable for the radical Islamist regimes of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Thus, the Americans, the British and the French, through their special services, supported terrorists who, moreover, organized attacks on our soil or fought against our forces in Mali. A good example of political coherence... Fortunately, the Russian intervention made it possible to defeat this delusional strategy.
Don't you think that the solution in Libya must be political and that if there is ever a war, everyone will lose?
That would of course be ideal, but I hardly see us going down that road. This would require the belligerents to agree to negotiate... as well as their external supports. However, neither the Libyan Islamists nor Turkey which supports these latter, want this, and the militias and criminal networks in Misrata and elsewhere have a vested interest in keeping the situation chaotic, allowing their "business" to flourish. And Egypt cannot accept that an Islamist regime, a refuge for terrorists and criminals, should settle on its borders... any more than Algeria, of course.
Shouldn't the West, led by the United States, reconsider its alliance with the Saudis, Qataris and Turks?
Absolutely, our foreign policy and our alliances need to be totally reconsidered. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Turkey are all States whose values and politics are diametrically opposed to those of France. They are neither our friends nor our allies, contrary to what a part of our leaders persist in believing, hoping for big contracts for our defense industry... Fortunately, Turkey has not been able to join the European Union and everything must be done to ensure that this never happens. If it remains in NATO, I think it is essential that we question the usefulness of this alliance ... which no longer has anything Atlantic ... nor Pacific!
Don't you think that Europeans should stop aligning with American policy? In your opinion, hasn't NATO become an empty shell that no longer serves any purpose?
NATO has no longer had a reason to exist since the end of the Cold War and should have been disbanded, that is obvious. For the Americans, however, this remains an essential means of influence, control and pressure on Europeans who do not want to bear the cost of their own defense. Above all, it is a godsend for the American defense industry, which can impose its armaments on its allies and kill off any European competition in this area.
But this would not be possible without the complicity of Europeans, who have, for the most part, accepted major losses of political and economic sovereignty. For several decades, France was the only "itchy" nation in this alliance. But Nicolas Sarkozy's decision to join NATO's integrated military organization sounded the death knell for true independence. But today, NATO should either be dissolved or France should withdraw from it.
As an intelligence professional, what is your analysis of Operation Rubicon where the CIA and the BND spied on the whole world, including their European allies? In your opinion, is mass espionage useful in the fight against terrorism, or is it rather, as Snowden revealed, a tool for mass control?
There are two aspects to consider. On the one hand, the external espionage practiced by all States. I would dare to say that it remains legitimate, in any case that it will never disappear because it allows one to read the game of others (friends, allies, opponents) to conduct its international policy and defend national interests (political, economic, military). That's the way it is.
On the other hand, there are the "alliances". The fact that the United States spies so relentlessly on its own allies, and that the European States themselves agree to cooperate with Washington in intercepting their neighbors’ communications, is a contradiction that shows that Europe does not exist, that there's no awareness of a common interest. Let us remember in this respect the attitude of the Europeans during the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 by the Americans. France, which has opposed to this operation - and Germany, which did not support it - have been betrayed by all their other European partners.
Finally, there is the myth of global data control. I speak of myth because today, the growth of data is infinitely faster than the progress of processing methods, which are already extremely efficient. The Americans are spending considerable sums of money, have achieved undeniable results, but are only able to process a tiny part of the information they have gathered.
But that doesn't mean there's no danger. This is where we cannot thank Edward Snowden enough for what he did. Moreover, the obsession of the American authorities with him illustrates perfectly the embarrassment of Washington with regard to the electronic espionage practices which Snowden has not yet all revealed …
Interview realized by Mohsen Abdelmoumen
Who is Dr. Éric Denécé?
Éric Denécé, PhD in Political Science, authorized to direct research, is director of the French Intelligence Research Center (CF2R) and its Risk Management consulting firm (CF2R Services).
Previously, he was successively:
Officer-analyst at the Directorate of Evaluation and Strategic Documentation of the General Secretariat of National Defense (SGDN); Export sales engineer at Matra Defense; In charge of communications for NAVFCO, a subsidiary of the DCI (Defense Council International) group; Director of Studies at the Centre for Strategic Studies and Prospective (CEPS); Founder and managing director of the economic intelligence firm ARGOS; Creator and Director of the Business Intelligence Department of the GEOS Group.
Éric Denécé has long taught intelligence or economic intelligence in several French and foreign business schools and universities (ENA, War School,) University of Bordeaux IV-Montesquieu, University of Picardy-Jules Vernes, Bordeaux School of Management).
He is the author of numerous books, articles and reports on intelligence, economic intelligence, terrorism and special operations. His work has earned him the 1996 Prize of the Foundation for Defense Studies (FED) and the 2009 Akropolis Prize (Institute for Advanced Studies in Internal Security).
Published in American Herald Tribune July 23, 2020: https://ahtribune.com/interview/4312-dr-eric-denece.html