Is al-Qaeda holding French intelligence officers captive?

Serge LazarevićBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Two French citizens kidnapped last November by an al-Qaeda-linked militant group, while on an alleged business trip in Mali, may have connections with French intelligence. One of the two hostages, Philippe Verdon, made headlines on Wednesday, after it was alleged that he may have been executed by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The website of the Agence Nouakchott d’Information, a Mauritanian news service that frequently carries AQIM press statements, said that Verdon was killed on March 10 in retaliation for France’s military operations in Mali. Verdon was kidnapped from a hotel in the northeastern Malian city of Hombori along with another French citizen, Serge Lazarević. Their families insist that the two Frenchmen were abducted while “doing a feasibility study for a future cement factory” in Mali. But is this true? Or could Serge Lazarević be the same Slobodan “Serge” Lazarević, who was implicated in a 1999 French intelligence operation aimed at assassinating Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević? As intelNews reported in January of 2009, three alleged French-handled intelligence operatives were put on trial in Serb capital Belgrade, allegedly for collaborating with a French commando team tasked with assassinating the Serb leader. The three, Jugoslav Petrušić, Slobodan Orašanin and Milorad Pelemiš, were arrested by Yugoslav authorities in November 1999, reportedly while trying to organize “10 trained commandos to storm the presidential residence”. Although sensational, the charges against the three men are hardly unique in the context of the murky intelligence history of NATO’s 1999-2000 war in Yugoslavia, which has yet to be fully written. What is interesting in this case, however, is that the three accused admitted infiltrating the Yugoslav military and routinely supplying NATO with intelligence data on bombing targets during Operation Allied Force. Read more of this post

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French intelligence operatives’ trial resumes in Belgrade

Petrušić

Petrušić

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The trial of a three-member group of French intelligence operatives arrested in Yugoslavia in 1999, on charges of planning to assassinate Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, has resumed for a fourth time in the Serb capital Belgrade. The sensational charges against the three are not unique. Although the intelligence history of NATO’s 1999-2000 war in Yugoslavia has yet to be written, the limited information currently available points to significant intelligence and espionage activity by several European nations in the former Yugoslavia. Most notably, in August 2000, the Yugoslav army captured a covert group of two British (Adrian Pragnell and John Yore) and two Canadian (Shaun Going and Liam Hall) operatives who were captured on Yugoslav soil reportedly without visas and in possession of materials for making sophisticated explosives. All four were eventually released by the post-Slobodan Milosevic Yugoslav government. In another case, a team of four Dutch undercover commandos was intercepted while attempting to cross into Serbia from Montenegro.  Read more of this post

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