Report: Fmr. French Official ‘There Are Too Many of Them, and Far Too Few of Us’

CNN Chief Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin reported that a former official in Paris’ Counterterrorism and Espionage Department told him that the country lost track of Charlie Hebdo terror suspect Cherif Kouachi because “there are too many of them, and far too few of us” on Friday’s “Situation Room.”

Griffin said “the details revolving around that younger brother will again raise again questions of how the French and French anti-terror officials could have lost contact, lost surveillance, and quite frankly be judged as dropping the ball on what [according to] court documents look to be a very dangerous person.”

According to his report “In 2005, Cherif Kouachi was caught by French authorities just as he was trying to travel to Syria, in an effort to join the fight against American soldiers in Iraq. In his own words, from a deposition in this 400 page court report, Kouachi describes how his perceived injustices in Iraq drive his hatred and willingness to die. ‘I was ready to go and die in battle. I got this idea when I saw the injustices shown by television on what was going on over there in Iraq. I am speaking about the torture that the Americans have inflicted on the Iraqis.'” And that Kouachi was radicalized by Farid Benyettou, “a well-known spiritual leader, who’s been long associated in France with supporting jihad and terrorism.”

Kouachi’s accomplices reportedly told police that Kouachi was “ready to firebomb and to destroy Jewish shops in Paris.”

Griffin concluded “as to why or how French officials lost track or stopped watching a guy with this kind of radical Islamic thinking, a former director of the Counterterrorism and Espionage Department for Paris told us, somewhat frightening[ly] last night, ‘there are too many of them, and far too few of us.'”

CNN National Security Analyst Frances Townsend added “it is true to say, particularly in France, and many of these Western European countries, it’s near impossible to follow all of them who come back.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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