A former French intelligence official has admitted that the country cannot keep track of every individual on the terror watchlist due to a lack of resources and manpower following revelations that the Trebes attacker had been on the list.
Yves Trotignon, a former agent of the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE), said that the recent terror attack in Trebes showed the strains on intelligence services to monitor individuals on the country’s terror watchlist known as the “S-File”.
Radouane Lakdim, the 25-year-old Moroccan migrant behind the attack, had been on the watchlist since 2015, along with 25,000 others who range from sympathisers of radical Islamic ideology to those considered a terror attack threat, Trotignon said in an interview with L’Obs.
“In this sense, there are different scales – from 1 to 6 – of dangerousness: Radouane Lakdim was among the 4,000 classified ‘in the high end’, which groups together potentially dangerous individuals,” Trotignon said.
When asked why the intelligence agencies were not able to predict the attack, Trotignon said: “We do not have the human means to follow all these people,” adding that politicians needed to provide more funding to hire additional agents and make national security a higher priority.
Laurent Wauquiez, head of the conservative Republican party, recommended earlier this week that S-File individuals should be detained and foreigners on the list deported.
France Mourns Slain Police Officer and Other Victims of Trebes Terror Attack https://t.co/TQ16m0WLPk
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While Trotignon said that deportations could be possible, he was sceptical about detentions saying: “This is the gift dreamed of by jihadists: global confrontation. The detention camps in France do not evoke very glorious memories.”
“This will fuel hatred. Then, what the intelligence services know is that the more you put the pressure on the jihadists, the more they will change their procedures. We will find ourselves with people who are even better trained than those who would be locked up,” he added.
Many of the terror attacks in France since the Bataclan massacre in 2015 have been S-File members, while others, like last year’s knife attacker in Marseille, were not on any list.
In at least one case, a member of the S-File list was able to secure a job as a police officer despite having been under observation by the country’s domestic intelligence agency, the General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI), since 2012.