September 16, 2021

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Evidence of concern from French intelligence

BFMTV News – Al Qaeda maintains close ties with the Taliban, increasing threats against France. Should the French fear that the terrorist threat will increase on its soil? We interviewed several sources in French intelligence.

Twenty years after being ousted by the United States, the Taliban are again in charge of Afghanistan. The Muslim fundamentalists, who officially regained control of Kabul on Monday, say they have distanced themselves from Al Qaeda, a terrorist group founded by Osama bin Laden. In the background, companies have close relationships.

“We are not talking about two military groups severing ties, but two brothers, two cousins,” former Pentagon official Michael Rubin explained recently.

Under these conditions, should France fear the rise of a terrorist threat on its soil? BFMTV interviewed several sources in French intelligence. They identify many threats in the medium and long term.

Fear of re-establishing al-Qaeda hotspots in Afghanistan

The connections between these two branches of ultra-radical Islam are taken from ancient history, and the fathers of the Taliban ‘s current top executives are associated with bin Laden. However, al-Qaeda has been very active in its campaign against France for months. Despite its historical enemy being the United States, the organization focused more on France, in particular, the publication of cartoons of Muhammad, as well as many discussions about secularism. In a video released on July 15 entitled “Unforgivable Crime”, al-Qaeda again directly threatened France.

French intelligence is now concerned about the recurrence of al-Qaeda blasts in Afghanistan. The country could once again become a rear base, thereby reactivating the risk of a “planned threat”, namely foreign-made attacks, terrorists sent to France for the November 13 attacks.

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It all depends on the Taliban’s attitude towards Al Qaeda. Will they really sever ties with the terrorist organization, rebuild a state and negotiate with the international community? During the movement’s first press conference after the capture of the capital, a Taliban spokesman confirmed that his movement had changed:

“We’re the same as before, with the same ideology, but we have more experience.”

At the same time, the Taliban released thousands of prisoners from the Pul-e-Sarki prison, including several al-Qaeda fighters.

Departure of French Jihadists to Afghanistan: A Real Threat?

Between 1996 and 2001, less than a hundred French jihadists joined Afghanistan. Mohamed Mera, the author of the 2011 Toulouse attack, was also there a year before the move. A few departures were recorded until 2017, but not in proportion to the number of French people joining the Dash in the Iraq-Syria region.

Today, according to French intelligence, the risk of new French leaving for Afghanistan to perform their “Hijra” is low. Access to Syria is relatively easy, especially via Turkey. There were many support networks back then. The situation in Afghanistan is very different, far from a dozen countries with France and especially divided by Iran, a country that is difficult to cross its borders. Currently, unlike Dasha at the time, the Taliban did not appeal to Muslims around the world to join them.

Towards an increase known as the “endogenous” threat

The victory of the Taliban has a very strong symbolic dimension, underscoring a source on BFMTV that he hopes will breathe new life into Islamic ideology. This victory risks increasing the so-called “endogenous” threat, a major threat facing France in recent months.

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The intelligence services, especially in the national territory, are concerned about individuals who may be isolated, without direct contact with a terrorist organization, and sometimes with mental disorders, inspired by this victory and may engage in attacks.

Risk of terrorist infiltration among deportees

This is the ultimate threat to the Taliban seizing power. The presence of individuals has intensified and Afghanistan is ready to take action against refugees who will be welcomed by European countries in the coming weeks as they leave the country. If they are still ready, French intelligence recalls several terrorists on November 13 who infiltrated Europe using migration flows born out of the Syrian crisis.

At present, French intelligence does not know the details of the individuals leaving the country. So they need to do “screening” with asylum seekers as soon as possible, i.e. understand their interviews with immigrants, their background, their relationships, their view of religion and France. But beware, we warn of a source within the information:

“These interviews can only be conducted effectively if these flows are well organized and the country is not overcrowded.”