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Toulouse: an event that forces us to wonder about Afghanistan

(BRUSSELS2) I will not return here to “how I would have done better” the negotiation or the assault. This type of controversy is often the favorite sport of the different security forces (GIGN versus RAID, Gendarmerie versus Police, Civilians versus military, etc.) who did not participate in the operation, especially when it ends with the right thing. call it a failure – with the death of a man and especially of the main suspect. The genre is often the same: if they had let me do it, it wouldn't have happened. Having experienced it directly, and sometimes observed (*), these comments often have little value other than that of the need to exist and, only rarely, any real explanatory significance. Because not all operational elements are taken into account or known. It's like replaying a match from the back of your seat!

What, on the other hand, deserves attention is the “supposed” path of the criminal. In the same way as for the London attacks, we are not dealing here with imported terrorism, coming to strike from outside, with networks (like the series of attacks that France experienced in the 1980s , attributed to the GIA or to Lebanese groups under Iranian leadership) but to local, homemade terrorism, that is to say a man living on the territory, apparently well integrated who, for one reason or another, has was convinced to fight another fight, was indoctrinated and trained for it.

We could naively think that the massive intervention in Afghanistan, the primary objective of which was to eradicate terrorism targeting Western countries, had achieved its objectives. It is not so. If Merah's passage in an Al Qaeda training center in Afghanistan and Pakistan is not confirmed as such, he could nevertheless have trained in certain techniques during his stays. We could then say that the terrorism factory that we targeted in 2001 has not yet been broken up. And that we will now have to be more than careful. Because Merah was not, in fact, “formed” in the 1990s nor in the early 2000s but in the 2010s, when the military operation in Afghanistan was normally at the height of its strategy.

This obliges, in my opinion, more than ever to ask the question of what are we doing in Afghanistan, for what objective, with what means? It's not just a matter of saying we're withdrawing from Afghanistan, but what we're doing there afterwards. Not how we are going to stabilize the country or bring it towards more modern methods of governance. But how are we going to ensure that the risk of terrorist export that it always seems to harbor will be countered? What seems certain in any case is that the international security force (ISAF) has not entirely succeeded in this aspect of its mission.

(*) We had the same kind of comments after the intervention on the Tanit by the marine commandos subjected to equally violent criticism from the GIGN. The gendarmes had a bad time – according to my colleague from Top secret – to be removed from their task of presidential escort on a sidewalk in Fouquet, one evening.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

2 thoughts on “Toulouse: an event that forces us to wonder about Afghanistan"

  • “One could naively think that the massive intervention in Afghanistan, the primary objective of which was to eradicate terrorism targeting Western countries, had achieved its objectives. It is not so."

    1) Bring down the Taliban: done.
    2) We are still looking for the second part, and why everything has gone wrong since 2003-2005.

    “While Merah's visit to an Al Qaeda training center in Afghanistan and Pakistan is not confirmed as such, he could have learned certain techniques during his stays. One could then say that the fabric of terrorism that was targeted in 2001 is not yet dislocated. And that it will now be necessary to be more than attentive. Because Merah was not, in fact, “trained” in the 1990s or in the early 2000s but in the 2010s, when the military operation in Afghanistan was normally at the height of its strategy”.

    I didn't know ISAF troops had access to Waziristan.

    • Nicolas Gros Verheyde

      Without being a strategy specialist, we know that if we push an adversary without closing the border, and that the adversary has on the other side of the border a place of reception and refuge, outside the control of his central State (Pakistan), which is moreover in an area that is difficult to access geographically, we are only pushing back the problem. It is therefore the whole question of the strategy of the ISAF (and of the US troops) that is posed.

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