Identifying the most crucial French intelligence issues and proposing a new way of operating and coordinating the efforts of the French intelligence community is at the heart of the national intelligence strategy developed this summer by the National Coordination for Intelligence and Counter Terrorism (in French: Coordination Nationale du Renseignement et de la Lutte contre le Terrorisme – CNRLT).
The deadly attack on October 3 at the very heart of the intelligence directorate, at the Paris police prefecture, illustrated in the most dramatic way the phenomenon we mentioned in the first of this series of articles devoted to the new anti-terrorist challenges. Namely, this type of terrorist acts is no longer the work of commandos attacking France from the fiefdoms of ISIS in Iraqi-Syrian jihadist areas, but is the poisoned fruit of spontaneous “jihadist vocations”, generated at a distance, by recruiters of ISIS, among French “subjects” most often motivated by violent nihilistic impulses, more than by a real desire for a jihadist “holy war”.
The fight against terrorism is a very particular kind of war. An asymmetric battle in which the intelligence services are engaged in a relentless battle against an enemy as radical as it is invisible. In other words, unlike the rules that determine the balance of power in conventional wars, when faced with the faceless adversary known as terrorism, striking power and military supremacy are not the most decisive elements.
As a result, counter-terrorism is first and foremost an intelligence war. By definition, this is a constant struggle requiring dangerous and perpetual clandestine operations of investigation, surveillance, tracking, infiltration or sabotage.
Confidential exchanges between several European intelligence services state plans for attacks in the Mediterranean Sea and kamikaze operations targeting the Italian, French and Spanish coasts.
In a recent confidential note, Europol expressed concern about Daesh’s logistics networks, identified several months ago, which are involved in major movements of trafficking and storage of explosives in several Central European countries and the Balkans.