WASHINGTON — Proper-wing extremist teams in the USA have been influencing French teams, spreading antigovernment conspiracy theories in Europe, the highest French intelligence official stated on Wednesday.
The official, Laurent Nuñez, France’s nationwide intelligence and counterterrorism coordinator, has been in Washington this week for conferences with American officers corresponding to his U.S. counterpart, Avril D. Haines, the director of nationwide intelligence.
Relations between Paris and Washington have been strained after a U.S. deal final month to promote Australia nuclear submarines, which put an finish to a French contract.
Mr. Nuñez didn’t mince phrases, saying “the intense bilateral disaster” remained. Nonetheless, President Emmanuel Macron of France licensed Mr. Nuñez’s go to as a part of efforts to ease the diplomatic feud and restore high-level communications between the 2 governments.
Cooperation amongst intelligence companies, usually stripped of politics, is normally far steadier than relations between heads of state, and that has been the case with France, in response to U.S. officers. French officers stated they have been persevering with to work collectively on a big selection of counterterrorism points in Syria, Africa and Afghanistan and threats from home extremist teams.
“So far as the threats from the acute proper, the developments we’re observing in France are fairly related to what’s occurring in the USA,” Mr. Nuñez stated.
In earlier years, excessive right-wing teams in France have been open about their actions, much less violent and had totally different motivations, he stated. However right-wing extremists have been now older, Mr. Nuñez added, and they’re usually folks whose actions the French authorities have no idea about.
“They wish to set up themselves into clandestine networks,” he stated. “There isn’t a extra visibility. They’re keen to commit violent actions, which might be in comparison with terrorists.”
The teams’ targets have expanded from mosques and Islamic teams to establishments of the French state, he stated. Like American teams, many extremist teams have adopted conspiracy theories concerning the authorities’s actions.
Over the previous 5 years, Mr. Nuñez stated, the French authorities had dismantled six extremist cells that had accrued weapons or explosives and have been plotting assaults.
The French authorities haven’t discovered “operational hyperlinks” between home extremist teams and the USA. However French teams have drawn inspiration from different actions exterior the nation, together with QAnon, Mr. Nuñez stated.
QAnon is a baseless conspiracy idea amongst some supporters of former President Donald J. Trump who imagine a cabal of Devil-worshiping pedophiles runs the world.
American and European officers have tracked the unfold of QAnon to Europe, which intensified at first of the coronavirus pandemic. Some far-right teams in Germany, for instance, started adopting QAnon theories. Mr. Nuñez stated the same phenomenon was occurring in France.
“Some people have been adopting the logic of QAnon,” he stated. “They’re pondering that the federal government has a hidden agenda and is working towards its personal inhabitants.”
French officers have been following the developments of extremist teams in the USA, significantly after Capitol assault on Jan. 6.
“We will see their motivation is similar,” Mr. Nuñez stated. “They’re preventing towards democracy.”
The French, like the remainder of the world, are waiting for indicators of Al Qaeda returning to Afghanistan or the Islamic State gathering energy below the brand new Taliban authorities.
Essentially the most devastating terrorist assault in France, the assaults in Paris in 2015 that killed 130 folks, was partly deliberate in Syria. Mr. Nuñez stated it might be tougher for teams to make use of Afghanistan as a launching pad for assaults in Europe. The community that introduced fighters to France from Syria doesn’t exist for extremists in Afghanistan, he stated.
Up to now, the French haven’t noticed a circulation of individuals to Afghanistan from Europe hoping to hitch the Taliban. Nonetheless, Mr. Nuñez stated it might be necessary to intently vet Afghan refugees.
The failure of the Taliban to cease Islamic State assaults throughout the evacuation from the Kabul airport has additionally raised doubts in Paris concerning the new Afghan authorities’s potential to cease terrorist threats from rising, Mr. Nuñez added.
“We now have to look at if Al Qaeda leaders are shifting to Afghanistan,” he stated. “Will the Taliban be capable of management and dismantle these cells?”