In an interview with the French magazine Valeurs actuelles, Bernard Squarcini, ex-Director of French counter-espionnage (the DST, then the DCRI), declared that he had been contacted by Syria in 2012 with a proposition addressed to the French government offering to supply them with a list of French terrorists operating in Syria, in exchange for a normalisation of relations between their intelligence services. Manuel Valls, then Minister for the Interior, refused the offer for ideological reasons [1].

Most commentators point out that if this information is true, and if the French government had accepted the proposition, the Paris attacks of the 13th November 2015 could probably have been avoided. Deputy Marleix (ex-advisor to President Nicolas Sarkozy while Bernard Squarcini was Director of counter-espionnage) is therefore calling for the creation of a parliamentary commission of inquiry in order to clarify these allegations [2].

The brief comment by M. Squarcini has to be explained. In 2012, Syria contacted the ex-chief of counter-espionnage, with whom they had maintained positive relations in the past, as well as a senior police official who was still in activity. The Syrian authorities had proposed to supply all the information in their possession concerning French combatants in the country, including information about the jihadists as well as the French soldiers on mission. It requested in exchange the withdrawal of French soldiers on mission in Syria, and the restoration of relations between their services, without however demanding the restoration of diplomatic relations. M. Squarcini passed the message on to the Minister of the Interior, Manuel Valls, who reacted rapidly. In order to demonstrate good faith, Syria supplied a preliminary list of the French dead whom they had been able to identify. However, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, vigourously opposed the agreement. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault thus forbade Manuel Valls to conclude the accord.

Ex-director of counter-espionnage Bernard Squarcini had been part of a group, with commissioner Édouard Lacroix (ex-general director of the national police, then director of Charles Pasqua’s cabinet) and under the command of Claude Guéant (ex-assistant director of Charles Pasqua’s cabinet, later Minister of the Interior), which was attempting to oppose the war against Libya, and then the war against Syria. This group managed to negotiate a peace agreement beween France and Syria during the liberation of Baba Amr (February 2012) [3] ; an agreement adopted by President Sarkozy, but which his successor refused to respect.

In June 2012, the new President François Hollande had commissioner Édouard Lacroix assassinated. A number of legal actions were taken against Claude Guéant. Bernard Squarcini retired from polical life and created the economic intelligence company Kyrnos Conseil (Kyrnos means Corsica in Greek) which is very active overseas.

Pete Kimberley

[1«Bernard Squarcini : “Nous sommes entrés dans la terreur et le terrorisme de masse”», Louis de Raguenel, Valeurs actuelles, 20 novembre 2015.

[2«Tout n’a pas été fait depuis Charlie pour protéger les Français», François De Labarre, Paris-Match, 20 novembre 2015.

[3The journalist-combatants of Baba Amr”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 4 March 2012.