French terrorist Merah planned attack on Indian embassy in Paris

Embassy of India in ParisBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Mohamed Merah, the French Muslim who killed seven and injured five people in Toulouse last March, had planned to launch a massive attack on the Indian Embassy in Paris, according to new revelations. Merah was shot dead by French Special Forces on March 22, after killing three French Army personnel on March 15, and four civilians, including two children, on March 19. But according to French newspaper Le Monde, Merah had initially planned to attack the Indian embassy in Paris. Quoting sources from France’s Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence (DCRI) and the Special Forces (RAID), the French daily says that Merah’s handlers in Pakistan had initially tasked him with attacking Indian diplomatic targets in the French capital. “That was the initial target assigned to him by the Taliban, who trained him for holy war […] in Pakistan during the summer of 2011”, a French intelligence source is quoted as saying in Le Monde. By “Taliban”, the source was most likely referring to Lashkar e-Taiba, one of Asia’s largest militant Islamist groups, which is waging a protracted war against the Indian state in Indian-administered Kashmir and elsewhere. Most Lashkar e-Taiba training camps are located in Pakistan, where Merah, who was Algerian-born, traveled in the summer of 2011. However, the paper says that the DCRI, which is said to have employed Merah as an informant, had received prior warning of the plot, and had notified Indian officials, who in turn were able to beef-up security measures at the embassy. Read more of this post

French spy agency denies Toulouse gunman was an informant

Mohammed MerahBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
France’s domestic intelligence agency has denied allegations, made by its former Director, that it employed as an informant the militant Islamist who recently killed seven people in Toulouse. Yves Bonnet, who headed France’s DCRI between 1982 and 1985, made the allegation in an interview with La Dépêche du Midi, one of France’s largest regional newspapers, headquartered in Toulouse. He was speaking about Mohammed Merah, the self-confessed al-Qaeda militant who died in a police assault on his flat last week. He was traced there after he murdered seven people, including three children and three soldiers, in three separate attacks. Speaking to La Dépêche on Tuesday, Bonnet said that Merah “was known to the DCRI, not especially because he was an Islamist, but because he kept contact with a correspondent [officer] in domestic intelligence”. By “correspondent in domestic intelligence”, Bonnet meant that Merah had a handler inside the DCRI, who met with him on a regular basis. But Bonnet’s claim was forcefully rejected on the same day by Bernard Squarcini, the current Director of the DCRI —France’s equivalent of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation. Squarcini confirmed that Merah did in fact meet with a DCRI officer in November in 2011. But he said that the meeting was arranged so that the DCRI officer could interview Merah about his trips to Afghanistan, which he entered in 2010 and 2011 using a tourist visa. Squarcini denied that this meeting designated Merah as an informant, and specifically stated that the self-styled al-Qaeda militant “was not employed as an informant by the DCRI or by any other French intelligence agency”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #701

Mohammed MerahBy IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
►►Ex-NASA scientist gets 13 years for spying for Israel. Former US government scientist Stewart Nozette was once on the cutting edge of space exploration, but he will spend 13 years in prison for trying to sell some of his country’s most closely guarded secrets. In 2009 Nozette sought to sell classified information to someone he thought was an Israeli Mossad officer but was in fact an FBI agent in an undercover sting operation. As intelNews explained back in 2010, Nozette was not simply a Mossad agent-wannabe, but had actually passed information to Israel in the past.
►►French intel under fire over Toulouse gunman. The French government went on the defensive last week amid questions over why its intelligence service had failed to deal with Mohammed Merah. The self-confessed al-Qaeda militant died in a police assault on his flat last Thursday, where he was tracked down after murdering seven people, including three children and three soldiers, in a series of attacks. With hindsight, Merah’s past appears to make him an obvious suspect —he had at least 15 criminal convictions, some with violence, had become a radical Islamist and travelled to Pakistan and Afghanistan. One press report said that in 2010 Merah forced a youth to watch videos of al-Qaeda hostage beheadings. When the boy’s mother complained, Merah allegedly attacked her, putting her in hospital for several days.
►►Ex-Mossad chief says Israel will know when Iran begins producing nukes. Former Mossad head Meir Dagan said he believes Israel will be aware when Iran moves to the stage of nuclear weapon production —for example, enriching uranium to a degree of 90 percent. Dagan said that at that stage Israel would have to attack the Iranian nuclear sites if the international community does not stop its program. Dagan said he believed the Israeli Air Force has the capability to significantly damage Iran’s nuclear sites, yet repeated previous warnings that such a strike will have serious repercussions.