‘Confusion was Total’: Errors by French, European Intelligence Agencies Surround Paris 2015 Terror Attack

Paris' former prosecutor Francois Molins arrives to testify before the court judging the November 13, 2015 attacks' in a temporary courtroom set up at the Palais de Justice, Paris' historic courthouse, on November 17, 2021 in Paris. - The trial began on September 8, 2021 over the November 2015 attacks …
Getty Images

A French court has heard that there were a number of mistakes made both prior to and during the 2015 terror attacks in Paris which killed 130 people.

Two French officials, Former Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Former Attorney General François Mollins told the court on Wednesday that mistakes were made regarding the terror attacks, but that neither claimed to know who was to blame for them.

Radio France Internationale reports that two of the men who took part in the attacks,  Sami Amimour and Ismaël Omar Mostefaï, were under a high level of scrutiny as suspected Islamic radicals from French intelligence services.

Despite this, however, both men were able to travel freely from Europe to Syria and back again without being intercepted.

A third man, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the mastermind behind the attacks, as well as one of the perpetrators, also seems to have been able to move freely between Syria and a variety of European destinations.

This is despite the fact that Abaaoud was already known to authorities, having participated in Islamic State propaganda films. Abaaoud is thought to managed to evade French, Belgian and Greek authorities before being shot dead in France four days after the attacks.

Speaking to the court, Former Minister Cazeneuve said that he was ‘haunted’ by the question of what he could have done better to prevent the attacks.

“Not a day has passed since the attacks occurred that I didn’t wonder if I could have done something that I didn’t do… I will continue to ask myself that until my last breath.” Cazeneuve said.

The office of the French Minister for the Interior, Cazeneuve’s former job, holds the responsibility of managing the internal security of France.

Another top figure speaking to the court, former French Attorney General François Mollins spoke of the difficulties faced by the security services in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

RFI reports that police information phone lines became saturated, and that “Families were left to wander from hospital to hospital all night because no one was centralising information about the names of the dead and injured”. He said that in the aftermath of the attack, “Confusion was total”

Mollins acknowledged the effects failures within victim supports had in the immediate aftermath of the attack. “I am all too aware of the unbearable, insupportable suffering those failures caused”, he said.

There are a total of 20 men on trial, either being charged with taking part in the attack, or supporting them either logistically or financially. Of the 20, six individuals are being tried in absentia. Five of the men are assumed dead, and one more is in prison in Turkey.

The trial is expected to run into next year, with a verdict expected in May 2022.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.