Cablegate: French Judge Says C/T Focus Is On "Jihadists To

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/08/2014



1. (S) Summary: Islamic/international terrorism
investigating judge XXXXXXXXXXXX told Poloffs May 6 that his section's open-ended investigation into potential "jihadists to Iraq" has become their current priority. With two networks already
discovered, French authorities fear that "jihadists to Iraq"
is a growing problem not unique to France, and one that will
affect other EU countries. XXXXXXXXXXXX also discussed the
ex-Guantanamo (GTMO) detainees (with the news that one
detainee may be released), the recent announcement of a GOF
"white paper" on terrorism, and C/T resource issues and
rivalries within the French government. End summary.


2. (S) French press reported the arrests April 24 and 25 of
six people in the Paris and Marseilles areas suspected of
involvement in the recruitment and sending of potential
jihadists to Iraq. This is the second network uncovered in
France since an inquiry by the terrorism investigating judges
into "jihadists to Iraq" first began in September 2004. In
comparison to the first network (reftel), XXXXXXXXXXXX said two of
the suspects recently arrested had significant, long-standing
ties to Islamist circles. One of them, Said al-Maghrebi, had
in the past recruited European Muslims to fight in Afghanistan. XXXXXXXXXXXX said he believed that France, and Europe in general, was facing only the beginning stages of attempts to form networks to fight jihad in Iraq. As an example, XXXXXXXXXXXX said that GOF investigations into this most recent network revealed that the suspects had significant ties to other Islamists in England. The open-ended "jihadists to Iraq" investigation is now the priority, said XXXXXXXXXXXX , based on the premise that those going to Iraq not only endanger Coalition forces and Iraqi stability, but upon return to
Europe, might constitute a significant terrorist threat.

--------------------------------------------- -----------
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3. (S) When asked about the status of the six ex-GTMO
detainees currently in pre-trial detention, XXXXXXXXXXXX said his
office was considering the release and dropping of charges
against Imad Kanouni, one of the original four ex-GTMO detainees transferred to French custody. XXXXXXXXXXXX said Kanouni had never undergone military training in Afghanistan, and though active in extremist religious circles, they had no evidence linking him to terrorism planning. The continued detention of Kanouni could damage GOF cases against the others, said XXXXXXXXXXXX . He said his office depended significantly upon its reputation within the French justice system, which tends to give the terrorism investigating judges the benefit of the doubt. (As an example, XXXXXXXXXXXX said that the proof against recently convicted Djamel Beghal and his accomplices, accused of plotting to bomb the US Embassy, would not normally be sufficient to convict them, but he believed his office was successful because of their reputation.) If they proceeded to trial with the information they currently possessed on Kanouni, it would be clear that the judges had been holding Kanouni without sufficient evidence. Therefore, XXXXXXXXXXXX and fellow investigating judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere are in favor of his release. Although he cautioned that a formal decision had not yet been made, XXXXXXXXXXXX said that Kanouni may be released "before the summer." Turning to the eventual trial of the ex-GTMO detainees, XXXXXXXXXXXX said he was in favor of trying them separately to avoid the spectacle of multiple defense attorneys arrayed against one prosecutor.


4. (C) Prime Minister Raffarin announced on May 3 the
long-rumored commencement of a GOF "white paper" on internal
security and terrorism. Specifically, the goal of the white
paper will be to analyze and report on the type of terrorism
France might face in 2020 and the government's potential
responses. The report will be written by the General
Secretariat for National Defense (SGDN) in conjunction with

the Ministry of Interior, and will be given to President Chirac in early 2006. The paper encompasses six areas, all of which are being led by different ministries and individuals. Pierre de Bousquet de Florian, head of the DST (France's internal security service), will lead a group studying possible threats; Pierre Brochand, head of the DGSE (France's external intelligence service), will study terrorist threats to world stability; Jean-Michel Hubert, vice-president of the general council on information technology within the Ministry of Finance, spearheads a group director of Criminal Affairs within the Ministry of Justice, will lead a group studying the role of the legal system in combatting terrorism; Stanislas Lefebvre de Laboulaye, U/S for Political Affairs-equivalent at the MFA, will study
international C/T cooperation; and Francois Heisbourg, director of the Foundation for Strategic Research thinktank (an organization closely linked to the French government) will lead a group studying the involvement of citizens and public outreach to combat terrorism. Heisbourg already heads an effort by the GOF to put online a publicly accessible database on terrorism. When asked about the "white book," XXXXXXXXXXXX said he hoped it would result in the passage of stiffer penalties for "terrorism conspiracy" charges, which
currently carries with it a maximum prison sentence of ten
years. A contact in the Interior Ministry told Poloff May 4 that the GOF hopes its white book will be taken up for discussion by the European Union, with the goal of applying many of its conclusions to the EU's counter-terrorism approach.


5. (S) With the announcement in early April by Justice Minister Perben that additional magistrates will be assigned to counter-terrorism, XXXXXXXXXXXX said his section in the Paris Prosecutor's office will likely grow from its current number of five investigating judges to seven within the next year. He said the investigating judges will also be given additional support staff. Recruiting the investigating judges has been difficult at first, said XXXXXXXXXXXX , given that he and Bruguiere and the other veteran judges - Gilbert Thiel and Laurence le Vert - have a distinct, more hierarchical,
work environment than is usually the case in the French
judiciary. XXXXXXXXXXXX also commented on recent press articles on a renewed attempt by DNAT (the National Counter-Terrorism
Division, a section of France's judiciary police) to wrest
away from the DST that service's near-monopoly on Islamic
terrorism investigations. Currently, DNAT focuses on
Corsican and Basque terrorism investigations. XXXXXXXXXXXX
believed that the DST would continue its primary role, given
that it also is in charge of international liaison, and as
such, it is the recipient of terrorism-related information
from other countries, which is a key component of Islamic
terrorism investigations.

6. (U) Minimize considered.

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