Jordan Candler / Nov. 23, 2015

Jihadis’ Ability to Evade French Intelligence Bodes Ill for the U.S.

“What we have in front of us is a complete failure.”

In the aftermath of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris that left 130 dead, there is one ominous question that has gone largely unasked and unanswered: How were multiple jihadis able to pull off a well orchestrated attack and completely bypass security in a nation supposedly on high alert after last January’s Charlie Hebdo attack? Clearly, the hesitation shown by Western leaders to eradicate the Islamic State has allowed the militant group to expand its reach, but there were alarming signs that French intelligence may have been caught sleeping. And according to a new report, that’s exactly what happened.

Fox News reports:

> “French intelligence officials were not aware until days after this month’s deadly terror attack on Paris that the suspected mastermind of the carnage had a female cousin living just north of the capital, according to a published report. The Wall Street Journal reports that information provided by Moroccan intelligence tied Hasna Houlahcen to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, enabling authorities to launch the raid that killed the two relatives this past Wednesday in Saint-Denis. …

> Abaaoud, originally thought to have ordered the attacks … from Syria, is not the only suspect to have escaped the notice of French authorities. Samy Amimour, one of the attackers who killed 89 people at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris on Nov. 13, was charged in a terrorism investigation in 2012. He had been placed under judicial supervision but dropped off the radar and was the subject of an international arrest warrant. The Associated Press also reported that French officials quizzed him on Oct. 19, 2012, over links to a network of terror sympathizers and an abortive trip to Yemen.

> More disturbingly, the Journal reported that French investigators were re-examining information provided by Turkey that said Amimour and another Bataclan attacker, Omar Mostefai, had traveled to Syria together sometime in 2013. French authorities apparently elected not to pursue the information due to their belief that Mostefai had returned to France in April 2014. … French officials also appear to have had difficulty tracking Abaaoud himself, despite his status as a wanted terrorist for nearly a year prior to the Paris attacks.”

According to one French official: “No need to fool ourselves. What we have in front of us is a complete failure.” Intelligence officials have a difficult job. And both FBI Director James Comey and DNI Chief James Clapper have warned about the ability of U.S. intel here. Yet Obama is ignoring his own intelligence chiefs about the limitations of dealing with the Islamic Trojan horse. It’s an eery reminder that Paris may be just the beginning.

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