THE ALGERIAN TERROR ATTACK (2)
By Michael Shrimpton
A most interesting article in the London Daily Telegraph this week by Alex Spillius. He’s a bit of an idiot, no offense intended – he even thinks Barack Obama was born in Honolulu! At least he says he does.
However even the most ill-informed journalists occasionally get it right. Spillius reported from Algiers that “BP and its gas production partners were warned by the Algerian authorities that a relation of an al-Qaeda leader worked in a senior position in a company that provided transport at the In Amenas site.” Precisely so.
The Algerian security services are efficient, and tend to have an appropriate regard for suspects’ rights. I am quite sure the failure to act on their warning raised eyebrows in Algiers.
It is now perfectly clear that the In Amenas attackers had inside help. They also needed some one at GCHQ to cover the tracks by suppressing satellite intelligence (SATINT) of the highly visible progress of their convoy through Niger and Libya.
A convoy of Toyota Landcruisers and ‘mechanicals’ moving at speed across the desert would stand out more than a sensible minister in the Coalition Government. This would apply even more after the sun went down – the Saharan desert gets pretty cold at night. Just ask any old Africa hand. The thermal images created by the engines would have stood out very nicely against the cold desert.
Al Qaeda don’t have any people at GCHQ, or at Fort Meade, for that matter. Chaps with beards, clutching Korans and AK-47’s, muttering Allahu Akbar, tend not to get past the first interview, even with GCHQ’s diversity policy. It takes a super-agency with real pulling power to boss GCHQ around. Step up the DVD.
Hopefully David Cameron is now better informed about the DVD, having popped over to Algiers for a quiet chit chat. They might even have told him why they couldn’t trust London. Had they been really helpful and desirous of helping Britain the Algerians might have arranged to have had the Prime Minister kidnapped. You can’t have everything, however.
Con Coughlin suggests in today’s Telegraph that lives would have been saved had the Algerians allowed the SAS to mount the raid. No they wouldn’t. The raid would have been betrayed by GO2 (DVD’s London operation) assets in the Cabinet Office. The SAS would have abseiled into a trap. There are also serious questions about their resources. The Cabinet Office and the Treasury have been waging war on our Special Forces, and they have been seriously weakened by cuts and legal guerrilla warfare, such as the crazy prosecution of Sgt. Nightingale. Setting up an ambush would have suited the GO2 boys in the Cabinet Office quite nicely.
In Amenas is a huge site – in fact it’s three sites. Quite a large force was needed to secure it. Since the defenders, who were talking directly to the Cabinet Office, would have been alerted, the losses amongst the hostages would not been any lower. Algiers is more secure than London and the liberators had the advantage of surprise. The Algerians also had the advantage, with respect, of having a sensible Prime Minister. Lucky country.
Michael Shrimpton was a barrister from his call to the Bar in London in 1983 until being disbarred in 2019 over a fraudulently obtained conviction. He is a specialist in National Security and Constitutional Law, Strategic Intelligence and Counter-terrorism. He is a former Adjunct Professor of Intelligence Studies at the American Military University.
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