French Inquiry Advises Creation Of 'National Antiterrorism Agency'
July 05, 2016
French lawmakers have recommended sweeping changes to the country's intelligence services in response to mounting concerns over the dangers posed by international terrorism.
The call for reform includes unifying France's various intelligence services into a single "national antiterrorism agency."
The recommendations are the result of a parliamentary inquiry set up after coordinated Paris attacks by Islamic State (IS) gunmen and bombers killed 130 people in the French capital in November.
The president of the commission of inquiry, Georges Fenech, was quoted as saying that "faced with the threat of international terrorism, we need to be much more ambitious...in terms of intelligence."
At least seven IS attackers struck at a downtown Parisian concert venue, night spots, and outside an international soccer match on a bustling Friday night in November in the deadliest attack in France since World War II, prompting France to declare a months-long state of emergency.
Some of the November perpetrators had served time in French prisons, the inquiry noted, and some were known to French security services and even under judicial surveillance at the time of the attacks.
The Paris attack followed other deadly attacks earlier in the year also claimed by IS, on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket.
The United States responded to the 9/11 attacks nearly 15 years ago by combining part or all of a number of security-related agencies, from border protection to the Coast Guard and emergency management, under a newly created U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Fenech said testimony from intelligence officials acknowledged failures that he blamed on the architecture of French intelligence system, including its multiple layers that made fighting terrorism like working in "lead boots."
The lawmaker presenting the report alongside Fenech, Socialist Sebastien Pietrasanta, noted that "there is no zero risk" and said the country remains at risk even after any intelligence reforms.
The inquiry reportedly interviewed nearly 200 people and included visits to Belgium, Greece, Turkey, and The Hague. Its members found shortcomings in Europe's coordination and communication when it comes to fighting terrorism.
At the moment, Pietrasanta said, "Europe is not up to the task.
Based on reporting by AFP, BBC, and French media
Copyright (c) 2016. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|