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Sunday, October 5, 2014

French Intelligence Agent Defected to Al Qaeda

File:Al-Qaida crée une brigade dirigée par des Touaregs (8246938011).jpg
Member of Al Qaeda

McClatchy reports:
European intelligence officials said the former officer had defected from either French military intelligence or from France’s foreign intelligence agency, the General Directorate for External Security, known by its French-language acronym as the DGSE. 
The former officer, according to one rebel source, is an explosives expert who fought in Afghanistan and in Syria with al Qaida and had assembled a group of about five men that was operating out of a mosque in Idlib. 
... “We don’t know if he was sleeper [agent] or radicalized after he joined the service,” said another European intelligence official familiar with the man’s background. “I assume my French colleagues are working hard to determine that and if they have figured it out, they certainly aren’t sharing how they ended up in this mess, which as you could expect they find rather embarrassing.”
How serious is this? Well, the McClatchy report indicated that some of its sources would not speak about the incident fearing prosecution. More significantly, though, is that this officer was "one of the people targeted when the United States struck eight locations occupied by the Nusra Front, al Qaida’s Syrian affiliate. The former officer apparently survived the assault, which included strikes by 47 cruise missiles."

The Daily Mail suggests that the French agent is a member of the Khorosan group--a previously unknown group that supposedly plotting an attack on the U.S. (More on the Khorosan Group in this NPR article, although the full truth is not being told).

Why does this present such a danger? Because Middle-Eastern terrorists have generally picked targets for propaganda value, rather than for the target's actual importance to the U.S. or whatever country in which it is situated. Now there is the possibility of someone in Al Qaeda able to intelligently select and plan attacks against targets that will genuinely hurt Western nations. 

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