The geography of the six Paris locations targeted by terrorists Friday night points to precise advance planning in support of a primary target, namely, French President Francois Hollande, while at the same time sowing bloody havoc in the French capital, frightening tourists away and shaking the French governing system to the core. The cost in lives has not been finally tallied. Estimates range from 127 to 153 with dozens of people injured.
debkafile’s counterterrorism sources note that the parties who orchestrated the deadliest terrorism attack on any European capital took into account that President Hollande would be attending a friendly French-German football match at the Stade de France, presenting them with a high-quality target for assassination or capture as their hostage. Saturday, the president was the first French official to explicitly accuse ISIS of “an act of war” against France.
One of the terrorists shouted before he died, “Francois Hollande’s foreign policy is to blame!” Another was reported by a witness as shouting "This is for Syria!" while spraying gunfire in one of the targeted restaurants: The other attacks on at least six locations were a kind of vicious subplot with the dual purpose of bloody terror per se as well as a diversionary tactic to confuse French security forces and keep them running around in several directions. The president’s bodyguards were meant to be distracted by two earsplitting explosions staged by two suicide bombers outside the stadium.
The guards however quickly whisked the president out of the stadium in time to escape harm.
Whatever their primary objective, coordinating so many simultaneous terror attacks by a large team called for months of preparation, precise intelligence, a variety of weapons and a large team of dedicated killers backed by exceptional staff work and organization.
Our analysts attribute the multiple assaults to a collaborative effort between Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. Together they were capable of putting up the necessary resources which included: –
1. A group of at least 20 terrorists for executing the six attacks. The French Prosecutor’s office reported Satuday that seven died in suicide bombings and the eighth was killed by security forces when they raided the concert hall, where dozens of hostages were being killed. Others may still be at large.
Our sources suspect that the survivors of the group are lying low and may be planning to emerge for a second round of atrocities in the coming hours or days, like after the Charlie Hebdo episode ten months ago, which was quickly succeeded by a massacre at the Jewish kosher store.
2. A second group of back-up confederates was made up of drivers, who drove the terrorists to the scenes of attack and were ready to extricate any survivors. They handed the attackers their bomb belts, automatic weapons and explosives and acting also as spotters who watched and recording the movements of French security forces. They also photographed the incident.
3. A command group planned the attacks, enlisted operatives, directed and coordinated them, and maintained communications among the different teams.
At least 200 operatives at various levels were completely in the picture and directly involved in at least two months of advance planning.
The night of November 14 will be remembered for the failure of France’s Director-General for Internal Security (DGSI) and Director-General for External Security (DGSE) – or their refusal – to pick up the slightest clue to the massive preparations afoot for a horrendous, wide-scale terrorist outrage against their capital city.
Reclusive Muslim communities populate whole Paris suburbs and often practice an extremist Islamic life style which does not recognize the authority of the French Republic. When French police are forced to enter those areas they take care to have an armored military escort with automatic rifles. Rife with crime, poverty and deprivation, these communities are perfect breeding grounds for terrorist networks.
The alienation of the Paris Muslim community and the experiences of young radicals in former Islamic terrorist operations in the past two years have raised a high wall against penetration by French intelligence and police services and any attempts by them to enlist informers, undercover agents or collaborators able to whisper a warning when trouble lies ahead.
The French agencies therefore work in the almost total absence of human intelligence from Arabic speakers conversant with the local dialect, and rely almost exclusively on “signal Intelligence” (SIGINT) for warnings of a deadly threat of the kind that swept Paris Friday and is unlikely to end any time soon.
Since it could not have been the work of 200 lone wolves, but only a large organization with headquarters in Syria and Iraq and impressive multinational capabilities, it is hard to understand how the far-reaching preparations for a multiple Paris terror assault were not detected by any Western signals intelligence branches, including ECHELON, the all-seeing American digital surveillance system and its small brother, Frenchelon. This is bad news for other Western capitals, which ISIS has placed under threat.