A year after Mohamed Merah’s killing spree in Toulouse and its surroundings, the domestic anti-terrorist initiatives of the French intelligence services comes under criticism for the failures in the case. With problems in information sharing, lack of coordination and rivalries, French attempts to combat terrorism are criticised in front of the Committee of Inquiry which assesses the state’s intelligence operation a year after the Merah incident.
The tension between a variety of intelligence organs such as the police and military intelligence, who are all in charge with the monitoring of radicalization amongst Muslims in France, have according to the Committee of Inquiry contributed to failed discovery of Merah’s radicalisation and assassination plans.
As a result, the Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence (DCRI) assured last month in front of the Defence Committee of the French National Assembly to have reformed its services and widened its scope. In order to ease the coordination between intelligence cells, the position of a cross coordinator was created. Internal investigations have simultaneously led to the dismissal of several members of the intelligence service.
The case of a broader reform of the intelligence apparatus is expected to come to a conclusion by the end of March. Whilst reforms were introduced after the Merah incident, the judicial apparatus operated in full swing: accordingly, in 2012, 78 people were arrested in connection with the combat against jihadism in comparison to 47 in 2011. Thirty of them were referred to the public prosecutor in comparison to 21 a year before.
With transnational networks of jihadists rising, the fear of the intelligence apparatus to miss out on another case leads to increased scrutiny and harsher as well as quicker sentences being made.