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“Al Qaeda Dead Since 2002″ Says Ex-Head of the French DGSE

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Would you like to know what the French “spies” think of Al Qaeda? Hold-on tight, the masks are about to fall.

Note: The DGSE is the French equivalent of USA’s CIA or UK’s MI6.

During a round-table discussion at the French Senate January 29, 2010, on the topic of “Where are we at with Al Qaeda?”, Alain Chouet — former head of the Security Intelligence Service of the DGSE (Directorate-General for External Security: the French equivalent of the CIA or MI6) — demystified the concept of “Al Qaeda” and denounced the inappropriate responses and other instrumentalizations by the West, without however deflating the dangers of Islamic extremism.

The video below has been subtitled into English (thanks to and edited to include the best parts of Alain Chouet’s passionate discourse containing no stonewalling or political doublespeak, placing itself light-years ahead of the official discourse about September 11th and “the nebulous Al Qaeda” that the mainstream media have been reporting for far too long.

Alain Chouet: “Al Qaeda Dead Since 2002″


I’m Alain Chouet. For those who aren’t familiar with the internal organization of Intelligence Services, notably the French Intelligence Services, the Security and Information Services is charged with the collection of information and the implementation of active overseas measures in terms of counter-criminality, counter-espionage, counter-proliferation and counter-terrorism.

As with so many of my colleagues from around the world, I feel that on the basis of key information gathered, that ‘Al Qaeda’ died as a functioning force in the rat caves of Tora-Bora in 2002.

The Pakistani Intelligence Services, from 2003 to 2008, then happily offered us what was left in exchange for various indulgences.

Of the 400 active members of the organization which existed in 2001, as described in Marc Sageman’s excellent book, “Understanding Terror Networks” less than 50 henchmen (apart from Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawaihri), who have no functional competence were able to escate and dissapear into remote regions, leading percarious lives, with primitive means of communication.

It’s not in this way that you can run a globaly coordinated network of political violence. Besides, it seems clear that none of the perpetrators of the post-9/11 terrorist attacks (London, Madrid, Casablanca, Djerba, Charm-el-Sheikh, Bali, Bombay, etc.) had any contact with the organization.

As for the more or less offbeat claims of responsability, occasionally articulated by Bin Laden or Zawahiri, supposing we can actually authenticate them, it doesn’t implicate any operational, organisational or functional link between these terrorists and the remains of the organisation.

However, I’m compelled to establish like everyone, that to keep invoking Al Qaeda as the source of everything, whenever a Muslim commits an act of violence, or a Muslim finds themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time (like with the AZF factory near Toulouse), or even when Muslims aren’t involved at all (like with the Anthrax attacks in the US), a certain number of reductivist members of the media, as well as some so-called side-experts, and others from the Atlantic have ended up not just reviving Al Qaeda, but transforming it into a kind of Amédée from the author Eugène Ionesco, a corpse which continually grows and overshadows reality, and which we don’t know how to get rid of it.

The dogmatic obsinacy of the West in invoking the mythical Al Qaeda (that has been characterised as a superterrorist not because of what it did, but because it attacked a superpower), has quickly had 2 pernicious effects.

1st effect: every violent protester in the Muslim world, either political or common-law, regardless of their motivation, quickly understood that he should claim to be from Al Qaeda so as to be taken seriously, so as to cover his actions in a legitimacy recognized by others, so as to give his actions an international impact.

At the same time all the regimes in the Muslim world, as we know, not the most virtuous, have well understood that they had every interest in passing off their opponents and protesters whoever they were for members of Bin Laden’s organisation, so as to quietly suppress them and even if possible to do so with assistance from the West.

Hence a proliferation of ‘Al Qaeda’ more or less designated or self-proclaimed, in Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Maghreb, and elsewhere “Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.”

The principal result of this idiotic dialectic has of course been to reinforce the myth of an omnipresent Al Qaeda, lurking behind every Muslim, ready in waiting to hit the West in general, the US of course in particular, in the name of who knows what perversity. And this vision is a product of several errors of judgment and perspective, and it above all generates completely inappropriate retorts.

Because if Al Qaeda doesn’t exist, Islamic political violence well and truly exists. And the West is but an indirect and collateral victim of it.

Violent Islamic ideologues aren’t God’s warriors: they’re people with precise objectives, which isn’t to convert the world to Islam, it’s to take the power and riches which come from the Muslim world, without the West intervening. In a way like Hassan al-Tourabi in his day in Sudan.

Thus, even if the West’s self-esteem has to suffer as a result, we need to constantly repeat that the first, the heaviest, and the main victims of Islamic violence are Muslims themselves.

Of course, one can always disagree that since jihadist violence does exist, and it’s developing pretty much everywhere following the same patterns, that we call it Al Qaeda hardly matters given that is only the generic designation for a certain form of globalized fundamentalist violence.

A number of recently prudent journalists now tell us about “the nebulous Al Qaeda”: the problem is that such a semantic confusion is at the origin of all the incorrect responses thus far, and de facto excludes any adapted solution to the problem.

Every security and intelligence service knows all too well that you don’t confront the ‘Lone Wolf technique’ by means of military action, armored divisions or an inflation of uniform security measures. You confront it by targeted security measures, supported by political, social, economic, educational and cultural initiatives which aim to drain the pool of potential volunteers, by cutting their ideological and financial sponsors.

Not only (and I’m referring to different American treasury reports) was nothing serious undertaken to attempt to curb the underlying financial structure, and even less the ideological structure of jihadist violence, but in designating Al Qaeda as a permanent enemy against which we must lead a crusade by military and security means totally unsuited to how things are, we’ve used a machine gun to kill a mosquito.

Obviously we missed the mosquito but the collateral damage is evident as we can see every day in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen…

And the 1st effect of this failed crusade has been to feed the pool of volunteers, to legitimize this form of violence, to render it the sole reference of action and possible assertion in a Muslim world in which the collective imagination is now traumatized by a universal law of suspicion that weights them down, through massive military interventions and occupations, both endless and blind.

For 9 years, the West has struck without much discernment in Iraq, Afghanistan, the tribal regions of Pakistan, Somalia, Palestine of course (and we’re now thinking about intervention in Yemen, and while we’re at it why not Iran…), but in the eyes of the Muslims, Bin Laden is still a step ahead of the world’s most powerful army and the Islamic regime in Saudi Arabia stays under America’s absolute protection.

To conclude and try to bring an element of response to the question asked at this roundtable, “Where are we at with Al Qaeda?”, Al Quaeda died between 2002 and 2004.

But before dying it was “impregnated” by western strategic errors and unwise calculations by certain Muslim countries and it’s given birth to little ones.

The problem for us is whether we will commit the same mistakes with the unwelcome offspring, by fueling an indefinite cycle of violence, or to refer back to Ionesco, whether we will partner with the Arabs and Muslims to halt the proliferation of the rhinoceroses.

Thank you.

[Other panel member:]

It goes to show that hands-on experience in difficult conditions, considering the number of honours that Mr. Chouet has accumulated so far, provides an original and mind-blowing understanding. That was really, very interesting.

Script: Demi-Lune
Translation: DJDaveMark
Corrections: Mohshin D
Subtitles: Cristof

Thanks to

Your Comments

  • DJDaveMark

    Great article !

    If anyone would like to propose a translation into another language feel free to contact me (“my name” AT and we’ll put the translation on the vidéo.

    Si quelqu’un veut proposer une traduction dans une autre langue, n’hésitez pas à me contacter (“mon nom” AROBASE et nous mettrons la traduction sur la vidéo.

    Si alguien quiere proponer una traducción a otra lengua no dude en ponerse en contacto conmigo ( “mi nombre” SIGNO DE ARROBA y vamos a poner la traducción en el video.

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