France highlights flaws in counter-terrorism before Paris attacks

A French parliamentary investigation has discovered multiple intelligence failures before the Islamic extremist attacks that killed 147 people in Paris last year.

The inquiry is also urging the creation of a US-style counter-terrorism agency.

Conservative politician Georges Fenech, who headed the investigation commission, said all the attackers involved in the 2015 violence had been known to authorities. Some had past convictions or were under judicial surveillance.

Mr Fenech said intelligence authorities questioned in the inquiry acknowledged failures. He recommended a national counter-terrorism agency, like that created in the US after the September 11 attacks.

The French parliament has also recommended better European intelligence cooperation.

The attacks targeted a kosher market, the Charlie Hebdo newspaper, the Bataclan concert hall, the national stadium, and Parisian cafes.

Mr Fenech said he blamed a multi-layered, cumbersome intelligence apparatus, adding that France is trying to fight terrorism with “lead boots”.

Socialist Sebastien Pietrasanta, who presented the report, noted that the attack that killed 49 people in Orlando, Florida, showed that “there is no zero risk”, and said France remains under threat even if it overhauls its intelligence services.

The parliamentary report is based on six months of interviews with nearly 200 people and visits to Turkey, Greece, Belgium, and the Europol police agency headquarters in The Hague.

It was aimed at studying what happened before, after and during the January attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the kosher market, which killed 17 people, and the November attacks on the Bataclan, stadium, and cafes, which killed 130.

The inquiry also found failures in European security co-ordination and communication.


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