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FRENCH CONNECTIONS - UNITED KINGDOM
ARCHIVE 13 Oct 2003
The ‘Spooks’ TV programme of a heroic Algerian infiltrating a mosque-based suicide bombing cell, broadcast on 9th June 2003, bears uncanny similarities with the adventures and fertile imagination of informer Reda Hassaine, who “went undercover to find out about terrorist activities in Britain”, including Finsbury Park Mosque in 1998 (Jason Burke in The Observer, 18 February 2001).
The BBC, in its rebuttal of complaints that this was negative stereotyping of Muslims, stated that “at its [the ‘Spooks’ programme] heart there is a Muslim hero (Ibn Khaldun) who is moderate and peace-loving and who works to stop the suicide bombing happening. This character is inspired by the true story of an Algerian agent, who greatly assisted the British Security Services undercover.”
Mr Hassaine walked into the offices of Scotland Yard and offered his services to Special Branch, in return for asylum. In the TV programme, the character Ruth Evershed identifies a crack Algerian agent who has turned up at Scotland Yard. Mr ‘Khaldun’ was screened enjoying a drink in the spooks’ staff bar - “Hassaine has a sad face and a stammer that improves with each bottle of Chianti” (interview with Jake Tapper, Times online, 16 January 2003).
More seriously however the real-life Hassaine also told his handlers about a dirty tricks campaign against Muslim activists in London being run by the French intelligence agency, the DGSE (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure), the MI6 counterpart.
The continuing arrests of Algerians – the most recent being the arrest of ten men in London and Manchester on 23 September 2003 under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000, on suspicion of “commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism” – point to the close coordination between security organisations in Britain, France and Algeria. More often than not, the tip offs lead to inconclusive ‘fishing’ expeditions.
The much publicised ‘Ricin factory’ raid of 5th January this year was based on a lead from the French intelligence services. The eleven men, including two teenagers, charged with “conspiring to develop a chemical weapon” remain incarcerated, probably in Belmarsh, preferring this to deportation. Similarly in November 2002, three Algerians arrested in a blaze of headlines ‘Plot to attack tube’ were subsequently cleared of any threat of a poison gas attack on the London underground (see The Independent, 18 November 2002).
Intelligence forwarded to the UK by French sources will remain less than reliable
because of the French Government’s alliances with the Algerian regime
and the vested interests of key intellectuals. France’s MI5 equivalent,
the DST (Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire) is implicated in supporting
the Algerian military clique in its agenda of eradicating every kind of political
opposition: Yves Bonnet, an ex-Director of the DST, is a lobbyist on behalf
of the junta (p.708, ‘An Enquiry into the Algerian Massacres, Hoggar,
Geneva, 1999). Algerian strongman Smaïn Lamari, in charge of a covert Algerian
internal security body (the PCO – Operationnel de la Police) that acted
above the law, served in a liaison role with the DST. Smain Lamari has also
been incriminated by the former intelligence officer Habib Souaidia in the use
of troops disguised as ‘mujahideen’ to commit atrocities (p. 186,
‘La Sale Guerre’, La Decouverte, Paris, 2001). An open letter from
French and Algerian journalists, lawyers and civil rights workers published
in Le Monde on 9 February 2000 noted that French involvement included the training
of officers “in the techniques of electronic warfare”. A more recent
letter, submitted to President Chirac by the ‘SOS Algeria’ Collective
in March this year, noted that “…the DGSE is perfectly aware of
the implication of Belkheir Lamari [the French-backed Algerian general responsible
for Intelligence] death’s squads” (la DGSE savent parfaitement l'implication
des escadrons de la mort aux services de Belkheir Lamari). An apologist and
“traditional friend” of the Algerian regime – the description
used by Al-Quds Al-Arabi (12 April 2001) - Bernard Henry-Lévy - himself
born in Beni Saf in Algeria, is a celebrity on the French intellectual scene
with deep-seated antipathy to Muslims: his recent book ‘Qui a Tué
Daniel Pearl?’ (Who killed Daniel Pearl’) delves in the intelligence
world with depictions of ‘evil’ Muslims with “Pakistan is
the most roguish of the rogue states today”.
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For information on French and Algerian intelligence connections see