Intelligence failures, in France and abroad, led to the failure to foil attacks in Paris last year by Islamic radicals that killed 147 people, while rival units of security forces trapped by rules and stepping on each other's feet made the situation worse during the attacks, the head of an investigating commission of lawmakers concluded Tuesday.It gets worse:
Cases in point: the only surviving attacker from the Nov. 13 attacks on a Paris stadium, music hall and restaurants, Saleh Abdeslam, should not have been able to escape into hiding in Belgium, where he was on the radar. And the man thought to have played a top role in the attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was a known radical who slipped across European borders, said Georges Fenech, president of the commission.
The two brothers who massacred the newsroom of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 and the man who took hostages and killed at a kosher grocery also were known to intelligence officials....
Abdeslam - stopped at the French-Belgian border the morning after the attacks in a car sent to fetch him - was detained, questioned then allowed to continue to Brussels where he lived because the Belgians had failed to add him to the European bank of radicalized individuals....
Abaaoud, a Belgian regarded by some as the attack's mastermind, was a known quantity in Belgium and was detected in Greece in January 2015. With better cooperation with both Belgium and Greece, "we would have arrested Abaaoud," Fenech said.
Rivalry and rules stymied various police and military units who arrived at the scene of the November Paris attacks.Also, the French counterterrorism effort is woefully understaffed:
At the Bataclan concert hall, where deaths were the highest, the police unit that arrived first asked soldiers from Operation Sentinel to lend them their Famas assault rifles - and the soldiers refused. The soldiers were under orders not to part with their weapons, though they had no orders to shoot.
Operation Sentinel - 10,000 soldiers on an anti-terror watch - was started after the January 2015 attacks on Paris' satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and reinforced after the Nov. 13 assaults.
The crack police intervention force RAID arrived in the midst of the melee, when a police unit was already inside the Bataclan, but was not put in command of the situation. The second crack intervention force, the GIGN, was never called in.
"There's nothing worse than having three intervention forces walking on each other's feet," said Sebastien Pietrasanta, a Socialist who presented the report. He noted each unit has different operational approaches.
The commission visited the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, and "we are convinced of the need to create the equivalent of (this) and what the British also do with MI5," Fenech said. "The American NCTC, it's 1,200 agents. Our coordinator under the (French) president, it's eight agents."The truly surprising thing? At no point did the commission say that these attacks happened because President Obama refuses to use the phrase "radical Islam" or "Islamic terrorism."
Hey, I'm as shocked as you are.