Geopolitics

US Aided France In Failed Somalia Hostage Rescue, Second Death Reported

CNN (USA), LE FIGARO (France), REUTERS

Worldcrunch

U.S. troops lent "limited technical support" in France's bloody and failed bid in Somalia to rescue Dennis Allex, a French intelligence agent who'd been held hostage by al-Qaeda linked terrorists since 2009.

President Barack Obama detailed the U.S. military involvement in the Friday night mission in a letter sent to the leaders of the nation's two legislative chambers.

While U.S. forces "provided limited technical support," they "took no direct part in the assault on the compound where it was believed the French citizen was being held hostage," Obama explained in the letter which was then publicly released, according to CNN.

Screenshot of Dennis Allex's October message to French President François Hollande - Youtube expand=1]

Meanwhile, Islamist rebels in Somalia say a second French soldier has died of his wounds sustained during the botched raid. The soldier had already been reported as missing in action after the assault in Bulo Marer, about 75 miles northwest of the capital Mogadishu, ended with a French soldier and 17 al-Qaeda linked militants dead.

Al-Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters: "The second commando died from his bullet wounds. We shall display the bodies of the two Frenchmen."

The fate of Dennis Allex himself is still unclear: Although French authorities announced the hostage had been gunned down by his captors during the attack, Abu Musab insisted that the intelligence officer was still alive and being held in a new location, France’s daily Le Figaro reports.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.


The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.

Hollandse-Hoogte/ZUMA

Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ