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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05PARIS2333 2005-04-07 13:01 2010-11-30 16:04 SECRET Embassy Paris
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 002333 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/06/2014 

REF: A. STATE 60796 
B. 04 PARIS 8983 
C. PARIS 280 


1. (S) Summary: U.S.-French cooperation on terrorism is 
mature and broad-based. For a number of reasons, including 
the memory of terrorist attacks in Paris during the 1980s, 
the French bring significant expertise, focus and 
determination to their C/T activities, and are valued 
partners for a wide range of USG agencies. C/T cooperation 
with the USG is largely insulated from the day-to-day 
political and diplomatic tussles that can make the French 
often difficult allies. Notwithstanding this solid 
foundation, Post has outlined three areas where we believe 
our C/T objectives can be better served, and proposes 
suggestions to implement these objectives. End summary. 


2. (S/NF) Embassy Paris comprises one of the widest range of 
USG agency representation anywhere in the world. Many of 
these agencies play a role in the remarkably broad 
U.S.-France security and counter-terrorism relationship. In 
addition to State's Consular, Diplomatic Security, Economic, 
Political, and Public Diplomacy sections that each handle 
pieces of the terrorism portfolio, other non-State sections 
in Paris that deal with the French on terrorism issues 
include the DEA, the Defense Attache, a DOJ liaison 
prosecutor, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) located 
in Paris and in the port cities of Le Havre and Marseilles, 
Legatt/FBI, NCIS, OSI, ROAL, a Transportation Security 
Administration (TSA) representative, and the Secret Service. 
A significant portion of the work of the Embassy's EST office 
is now counterterrorism-related. Other non-traditional 
security-oriented offices also contribute to counterterrorism 
work. For example, the Foreign Agricultural Service Office 
liaises with French agriculture authorities on biosafety 
risks. In addition, USG personnel are assigned to Interpol 
headquarters in Lyon, France's second largest city. 

3. (S) Two reasons for this breadth of USG representation are 
1) France's own outsized role internationally and within the 
EU on counter-terrorism issues; and 2) a long-term 
institutional desire by the GOF to maintain close relations 
with USG C/T professionals. In addition to this permanent 
USG presence, delegations from the United States often visit 
France to discuss specialized aspects of C/T. Two noteworthy 
recent examples were a DOE/NRC/NSC/STATE visit in January on 
the protection of nuclear facilities and radiological 
materials. The visit has led to the development of the a 
multi-year program to share best practices, swap observers at 
nuclear security exercises, and collaborate scientifically to 
improve passive security measures for nuclear facilities. 
Also, in December 2004, then-Secretary of Health and Human 
Services Tommy Thompson led an HHS/STATE delegation to a G-8 
meeting hosted in France to engage at a deeper level on the 
threat of bioterrorism. The ongoing work of the Bioterrorism 
Experts Group includes such items as best practices in 
protection of the food supply; information sharing on 
zoonotic diseases; licensing issues on medical 
countermeasures; sharing of information regarding vaccine 
availability; and the sharing of national response plans. 
France hosted two bioterrorism conferences in April in Lyon: 
the first Interpol conference devoted to this subject and a 
WHO-sponsored meeting on Biosafety and Biorisks. France 
participates actively in these fora and sends experts to 
U.S.-hosted biosafety/biorisk seminars in the U.S. 

4. (S) Internationally, France is a long-standing contributor 
of military troops and assistance in Afghanistan and a French 
admiral is regularly in the rotation to command Task Force 
150, a multinational naval force that patrols the Red Sea and 
the Persian Gulf to interdict the movement of suspected 
terrorists from Afghanistan to the Arabian Peninsula. French 
Special Forces also operate closely with coalition forces in 
Afghanistan. It is a key member of the UN's 
Counter-Terrorism Committee and the G-8's Counter-Terrorism 
Action Group, and it has supported (and co-sponsored, where 
possible) terrorist designations to the UN's 1267 sanctions 
committee. Bilaterally, France recently signed two updated 
agreements on extradition and counter-terrorism cooperation, 
and cooperates closely on Container Security Initiative (CSI) 
and airline security issues. Domestically, France continues 
to hold in pretrial detention 6 of the 7 ex-GTMO French 
citizen detainees (the seventh was declared not an enemy 
combatant by the Department of Defense). All six will be 
charged with "terrorist conspiracy," which has a maximum 
sentence of ten years. Most recently, terrorism 
investigating judges and prosecutors successfully argued for 
the conviction of Djamel Beghal and five accomplices arrested 
in 2001 on suspicion of planning to bomb the U.S. Embassy in 
Paris. Beghal and his five accomplices were convicted on 
March 15 and all received jail sentences. Other significant 
C/T operations include the dismantling of a local cell of 
"French jihadists to Iraq," a raid on and continuing 
investigation of the MEK presence in France, the dismantling 
of a GICM cell, and the near-destruction of ETA support cells 
in the south of France. Additional examples are reviewed in 
ref B. 


5. (S) As noted in ref C, France often appears to react 
differently to terrorism and radical Islam depending on its 
distance from it. Within its borders, the GOF reacts 
proactively, with speed and firmness. Elsewhere in the 
world, it is much more equivocal. Political and diplomatic 
considerations carry substantial weight, and sometimes trump 
security considerations. A good example of this is continued 
French intransigence within the EU on Hezbollah. It sees the 
EU's listing of Hezbollah as a bad idea for Lebanon's 
political stability and therefore, it continues to hold a 
firm line against listing, despite a growing openness within 
internal security circles to acknowledge that Hezbollah has 
committed terrorist acts and should be considered a terrorist 
organization. An approach that combines convincing the GOF 
of a case's merits and, where necessary, isolating France 
diplomatically offers the best chance of success, although in 
this particular situation, it will prove difficult to 
overcome the firm conviction of President Chirac and others 
that designating Hezbollah is a bad idea. Nevertheless, 
France's intelligence and security services must be persuaded 
by the existing evidence that Hezbollah is a terrorist 
organization. Presenting the GOF with evidence of Hezbollah 
involvement in terrorism in the West Bank and Gaza is 
particularly important, as the GOF cannot overlook 
Hezbollah's efforts to destroy the Israeli-Palestinian peace 
process. Having the Palestinian leadership weigh in with the 
French at a high level would be important as well; up to now, 
the French have maintained that only the U.S. and Israel are 
pressing them on Hezbollah, while the Palestinians remain in 
the background on the issue. Second, France must be isolated 
within the EU Clearinghouse. A number of EU countries hide 
behind France's strong opposition, but if they are peeled 
away, France may be more amenable. In general, France does 
not like to be seen publicly as blocking consensus, a fact 
that worked to our advantage in finally convincing the EU to 
designate Hamas. 

6. (S) The Embassy believes that a gap in French C/T planning 
is its development of mass-casualty emergency response. The 
GOF understands they have improvements to make and have begun 
to conduct exercises to build and test their emergency 
response capabilities. However, France could benefit from 
observing the USG crisis simulation exercises. Post would 
recommend, therefore, for the invitation (where possible) for 
a GOF official to observe USG exercises and simulations. One 
good recent example is the inclusion of two high-level French 
officials as observers to the TOPOFF 3 simulation in the U.S. 
Expanding on this worthy initiative, Washington might 
consider inviting French officials as observers to other, 
similar simulations in the U.S. and abroad, to include USG 
training programs with other countries (such as those 
referenced in Jakarta 4212). The French can be prickly if 
given the impression that they need to be "trained" and in 
addition, giving them decision-making roles is often best 
avoided. One way to overcome these issues is to focus on 
"professional exchanges" and invite them to observe 
USG-organized emergency response simulations and allow them 
to translate best practices to the French system. In 
addition, Post will work to procure invitations for the USG 
to observe French-led crisis simulations. 

7. (S) As mentioned in para 1, U.S.-French C/T cooperation is 
largely removed from daily political and diplomatic 
pressures. One reason for this is that GOF counter-terrorism 
is itself separated from the rest of the government. 
France's intelligence-related agencies and coordinating 
bodies - of which the DST, the RG, the DGSE and the SGDN are 
primary examples - all deal with terrorism (although the DST 
has a primary role domestically), but their investigations 
and cases are guarded carefully and rarely shared with the 
rest of the GOF. Similarly, the renowned terrorism 
investigating judges - led by Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere - 
operate in a different world than that of the rest of the 
judiciary. In short, the GOF counter-terrorism community is 
highly professional, but insular and centralized in Paris. 
Because of this, judiciary and police services not directly 
involved in counter-terrorism (but who may play an indirect 
support role) have a largely insufficient understanding of 
USG counter-terrorism policy and the judicial/investigative 
procedures that frame this policy. To replace working-level 
and upper management, France's counter-terrorism community 
draws upon the available pool of judicial and security 
professionals, many of whom have little understanding of the 
U.S., its judicial/law enforcement system, and its law 
enforcement organizational structure and resource 
allocations. We need to reach these judicial and security 
professionals as they begin their careers, and not only when 
they enter the counter-terrorism community, sometimes with 
already-formed prejudices. To this end, Post proposes 
approaching the National Magistrate School, other 
professional academies, and programs for already serving law 
enforcement officials with offers to deliver lectures on U.S. 
approaches to terrorism and law enforcement. We would 
request assistance from Washington in developing these 
proposals. Although in this case, results would probably not 
be immediate, in the long run, the USG would have much to 
gain by exposing French judicial and security professionals 
to the U.S. counter-terrorism and law enforcement system at 
an early stage in their careers.