Western media completely misinterpreting Le Monde Bombshell reporting

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I assume it's because so few Americans read French. I guess a wire service wrote a blurb about the French story, and American papers are summarizing the blurb rather than the original le Monde story.

I'm amazed at the Newsday "translation" provided by Drewl, in the other thread on this:

"But the French warning hinted at a plot in Europe, not the United States, and there was no suggestion of suicide attacks or multiple planes. One former official said al-Qaida may have leaked misinformation to divert intelligence agencies from the bigger, deadlier plot to come on Sept. 11, 2001.

The warning was another example of how intelligence agents sensed al-Qaida was hard at work in the months leading up to Sept. 11 but were unable to piece together fragmented warnings into a coherent plot."

Now compare that to what the Le Monde article actually says. I've tried to translate the French into idiomatic English so that it is easier to understand it. Words in brackets <> are either inserted to make sense or alternative translations of specific words:

"Dès janvier 2001, la direction d'Al-Qaida se montre néanmoins transparente aux yeux – et aux oreilles – des espions français. Les rédacteurs détaillent même les désaccords entre terroristes sur les modalités pratiques du détournement envisagé. Jamais ils ne doutent de leur intention. Provisoirement, les djihadistes privilégient la capture d'un avion entre Francfort et les Etats-Unis. Ils établissent une liste de sept compagnies possibles. Deux seront finalement choisies par les pirates du 11-Septembre : American Airlines et United Airlines (voir fac-similé). Dans son introduction, l'auteur de la note annonce : "Selon les services ouzbeks de renseignement, le projet d'un détournement d'avion semble avoir été discuté en début d'année 2000 lors d'une réunion à Kaboul entre des représentants de l'organisation d'Oussama Ben Laden…"

By January 2001, Al-Qaida's direction, however, has become transparent to the eyes - and the ears - of French spies. The writers even detail the operational disagreements between terrorists about how they envision the hijackings. They never they doubt the intentions. For a while, the jihadists focus on hijacking a plane between Frankfurt and the United States. They draw up a list of seven possible airline companies. The pirates of 9/11 finally chose two: American Airlines and United Airlines (see facsimiled). In his introduction, the author of the note announces: "According to the Uzbek service's information, the hijacking project seems to have been be discussed at the beginning of 2000 at a meeting in Kabul between representatives of Usama Bin Laden's organization…"

Des espions ouzbeks renseignent donc les agents français. A l'époque, l'opposition des fondamentalistes musulmans au régime pro-américain de Tachkent s'est fédérée dans le Mouvement islamique d'Ouzbékistan, le MIO. Une faction militaire de ce parti, emmenée par un certain Taher Youdachev, a rejoint les camps d'Afghanistan et prêté allégeance à Oussama Ben Laden, lui promettant d'exporter son djihad en Asie centrale. Des livrets militaires et des correspondances du MIO, trouvés dans des camps afghans d'Al-Qaida, en attestent.

The Uzbek spies thus inform the French agents. During this period, Islamic fundamentalist opposition to the pro-American policy of Tachkent, united to form the Islamic Movement of Ouzbékistan, the MIO. A military faction of this party, created by a certain Taher Youdachev, joined the camps in Afghanistan and pledged allegiance to Osama Bin Laden, promising him to export jihad to Central Asia . Military records and correspondences of the MIO, found in Afghan Al-Qaida camps, confirm this.

Alain Chouet a gardé en mémoire cet épisode. Il a dirigé jusqu'en octobre 2002 le Service de renseignement de sécurité, la subdivision de la DGSE chargée de suivre les mouvements terroristes. Selon lui, la crédibilité du canal ouzbek trouve son origine dans les alliances passées par le général Rachid Dostom, l'un des principaux chefs de guerre afghans, d'ethnie ouzbek lui aussi, et qui combat alors les talibans. Pour plaire à ses protecteurs des services de sécurité de l'Ouzbékistan voisin, Dostom a infiltré certains de ses hommes au sein du MIO, jusque dans les structures de commandement des camps d'Al-Qaida. C'est ainsi qu'il renseigne ses amis de Tachkent, en sachant que ses informations cheminent ensuite vers Washington, Londres ou Paris.

Alain Chouet recalls this episode. Until October 2002, he was the director the Security Information Service, the subdivision of the DGSE charged with tracking terrorists' movements. According to him , the credibility of the Uzbek channel originated in the past alliances of General Rachid Dostom, one of the principal Afghan warlords, who is also an ethnic Uzbek, and who was then fighting the Taliban. In order to please his protectors in the Uzbek security service, he infiltrated some of his men in the heart of the MIO up to the very command structure of the al Qaeda camps. Thus, he informed his friends in Tachkent with the knowledge that his information would proceed onwards to Washington, London or Paris.

La formulation de la note française de janvier 2001 indique clairement que d'autres sources corroborent ces renseignements sur les plans d'Al-Qaida. Selon un dispositif bien huilé en Afghanistan, la DGSE ne se contente pas d'échanges avec des services secrets amis. Pour percer les secrets des camps, d'une part elle manipule et "retourne" des jeunes candidats au djihad originaires des banlieues des grandes villes d'Europe. D'autre part, elle envoie des hommes du service action auprès de l'Alliance du Nord du commandant Massoud. Sans compter les interceptions des téléphones satellitaires.

The formulation of the French note of January 2001 states clearly that other sources corroborate this information within Al-Qaida. According to the well oiled machine in Afghanistan, the DGSE was not satisfied with exchanges with friendly secret services. In order to pierce the secrecy of the camps, it on the one hand, manipulated and "turned" young male applicants for jihadist from the suburbs of large European cities, and on the other hand it stationed with the Northern Alliance commander Massoud . Not to mention intercepting satellite telephones.



The revelation here is the level of penetration into AQ. The French have Uzbeks posing as jihadists in the command structure of AQ; they have European born Muslims posing as jihadists in the AQ camps; they are listening to their satellite conversations.

They have such sweeping and deep penetration of AQ, that AQ had become "transparent" to French intelligence. They even listen in to the jihadists debates about which airlines to strike and which airline routes to hijack. Their eyes and ears are there when it is decided months before 9/11 to hit American Airlines and United Airlines.

This is almost the complete opposite of the English language description of the article, which claims that the French had some information, but couldn't put the pieces together.

All of this information was passed to the CIA Station Chief in Paris, one of the highest ranking overseas CIA officers, one who is embedded in the heart of NATO's intelligence structure – and incidentally who apppears to be a stand up guy who later would try to quash the Niger yellow cake hokum, a guy who thereafter retired (or was retired) from the agency, but is reluctant to talk to the press because his CIA "contracts" could be withdrawn in revenge.

Other aspects of the English language version of the French news story are laughable. The Newsday version is that "But the French warning hinted at a plot in Europe, not the United States, and there was no suggestion of suicide attacks or multiple planes."

The original French version is that "And initially a surprise: the high number of notes
devoted only to the threats of Al-Qaida against the United States, in the months before the suicide attacks in New York and Washington. Nine reports/ratios entirely on this subject between September 2000 and August 2001.

Do they think that we're that stupid? That everyone in the United States is too lazy to look at Le Monde's website, and that even if we did, not one of us can read French?

Now for my own speculation about why this Le Monde report is so important. If both French intelligence and the lowly Uzbek intelligence service and a Northern alliance warlord, Rashid Dostum, have penetrated al Qaeda up to the command structure, and if other friendly middle eastern intelligence services also warned the US of the 9/11 attacks, is it reasonable to believe these other intelligence agencies also penetrated al Qaeda so completely?

Is it reasonable to assume that Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi or even Palestinian Authority intelligence might also have slipped some operatives into the Afghan al Qaeda camps to keep an eye on what was going on there? Might the Mossad during the closing era of good feelings between the Barak administration and the Palestinian Authority have slipped an operative or two into the al Qaeda camps?

Considering that even the American, John Walker Lindh, was able to walk into the training camps and get training, can we conclude that prior to 9/11 al Qaeda recruited indiscriminately and that its counter intelligence capacity was pathetic?

If Uzbek intelligence was so good, and the Uzbekistan was in the tight embrace of the US, what intelligence might the US have been receiving in Tachkent?

Also note that the French story completely discredits assertions by both the Clinton and Bush administrations that they had no human intelligence on the ground, in the camps. Apparently, the west did. This makes sense as disinformation: of course both administrations would not want to disclose to the enemy that they had intelligence sources fairly high up in the al Qaeda structure, because such operatives might have been outed and killed, and al Qaeda would have taken counter measures to avoid such infiltration.

This might explain away one of the raps against the Clinton administration -- namely, that when they had bin Laden located in the camps, the military had to get clearance at the highest levels (ie the president) in order to launch cruise missiles. The Le Monde reporting explains why: a missile could easily have killed friendly intelligence operatives within the camp command structures. If my speculation is correct, an errant cruise missile would have slaughtered a virtual United Nations of friendly intelligence operatives.

The Le Monde report does not disclose what is in the French intelligence reports closer to 9/11. So, I suspect that there will be follow up reporting by the author, Guillaume Dasquiéfrom, the 328 page dossier.

Also of interest is why someone in French intelligence leaked this dossier now. A post in the other thread asks why the mainstream media is picking up on this old news. It's not old news. Someone in French intelligence has decided to drop a bombshell now.

The set up of the French article is almost funny: Guillaume Dasquié walks into the office of Emmanuel Renoult, private secretary of the director of French intelligence, plops down the 328 page dossier, and the private secretary deplores this breach of intelligence and refuses to comment. Dasquie then confronts the former private secretary of the director of central intelligence with the 328 page dossier, who (presumably gulps hard first and) blurts out something to the effect of, but of course no one could have imagined that hijacked planes would be used as missiles ... The western press duly reports in English that the Le Monde news story confirms that prior to 9/11 no one in French intelligence suspected that planes would be used as missiles. My capacity to grasp French irony in print may be limited, but I don't think that's the meaning Dasquie had in mind.

I wonder if someone in French intelligence finally smells blood in the water across the pond in Washington.