French intel chief predicts new, deadlier model for attacks
13 July 2016, 10:01
Paris - France's intelligence chief predicts that Islamic extremists like those who carried out two waves of attacks in Paris last year will look to increase their capacity to kill by using booby-trapped cars and bombs.
Testimony by Patrick Calvar, who heads the internal security agency DGSI, and other top security officials was made public on Tuesday in a 300-page report by a parliamentary commission that examined French means to fight terrorism.
The report revealed numerous intelligence lapses that paved the way for the attacks in January and November 2015 that together killed 147 people.
Several associations representing victims and their families met on Tuesday with Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who earlier rejected one of the 40 proposals contained in the report - establishing an American-style intelligence agency that combines numerous others currently existing in France.
Evolution of attacks
Cazeneuve, who met on Tuesday with some victims associations, quickly rejected the idea of reconfiguring the intelligence services.
Calvar said in his May 24 testimony before the commission that he foresees an evolution in how extremists carry out attacks in France, and presumably the West, notably that they will use techniques that can kill more people - and spare the attackers.
The November 13 attack on a stadium, a concert hall, bars and restaurants were carried out by suicide bombers and assailants with assault rifles. But Calvar said he sees a new phase in the offing.
"I'm convinced they'll go to booby-trapped vehicles and bombs, thus upping their power," he said.
"We know very well they're going to use this mode of operating," the intelligence chief said.
"They're going to end up sending commandos whose mission is to organise terrorist campaigns without necessarily going to the assault with death awaiting them," he said.
He also raised the possibility of extremists using "dirty bombs" and the natural poison ricin, saying several groups had studied the toxin in the past.
The Armed Islamic Group, which rained terror on Algeria in the early 1990s, was looking to put it on car door handles to create a panic effect, Calvar said, and it was studied in northern Iraq and in the remote Pankisi Valley in Georgia, once a stronghold of Chechen militants.
Calvar did not elaborate on when this new approach to attacks could become an imminent threat to France or other Western targets. He noted before the commission that he cannot tell all.