A French parliamentary inquiry commission has recommended that the country merge all its intelligence services into one unit to better deal with terror threats. The commission studied the lapses in detecting multiple terror attacks in the country – including the November 2015 Paris attacks – and suggested to establish a national counter-terrorism agency.
In its report released on Tuesday (5 July), the commission sought a complete overhaul of intelligence services in France and highlighted a blatant lack of co-ordination between different intelligence services within the country.
In the 300-page document, there are 39 proposals to thwart and prevent terrorist attacks. President of the commission, Georges Fenech, recommended that a national body similar to the US National Counter Terrorism Agency should be established in France. He also questioned certain decisions made during the Paris attacklike the appointment of a commander of a serious crime unit as the in-charge of the operation when the country already had a specialised counter-terrorism unit of well-trained officials.
"I am wholly behind the proposition to create a national counter-terrorism agency. It would be directly attached to the head of state and would have a common database for all those bodies involved in the fight against terrorism," Fenech told AFP.
The commission also criticised Belgium's "slow" response to the Paris attacks that allowed terrorist Salah Abdeslam to leave France after the deadly incident. The jihadist was reportedly blocked at the French border while fleeing to Belgium, but was let go due to lack of information from Brussels. He was later arrested in March.
The inquiry commission concluded that the state of emergency imposed in the country following the attacks, which has still not been lifted, did very little in improving security measures. "The state of emergency has had an effect, but it seems to have quickly diminished," Socialist MP Sébastien Pietrasanta, who authored the inquiry's concluding report, was quoted as saying by the Local's French edition.
The inquiry commission also questioned the benefits of Operation Sentinelle that saw the deployment of thousands of soldiers across the city to protect schools, synagogues, departmental stores and other high risk sites.
"Eighteen months after the start of operation Sentinelle, which has involved 10,000 men including 6,000 to 7,000 soldiers, I question the real added value in providing security in the country," Pietrasanta reportedly said.