Suspicious Minds & Barking Dogs: Canada, France, Russia (& Australia)

    A suspicious article in a suspicious-sounding newspaper by a suspicious-sounding journalist:

French couple cloaked in suspicion
Tu Thanh Ha
Globe and Mail
February 3, 2009

While visiting Quebec, pair covertly entered New York. What ensued has led to nine arrests on sabotage charges.

On a clear, cold day a year ago, a French couple visiting Quebec went on a clandestine visit to New York then sneaked back into Canada. However, their knapsack, transported in a car driven by a Canadian friend, caught the attention of suspicious Canadian border agents.

What happened that day sparked a probe that gained momentum after a bombing in Manhattan and ended when French police arrested nine people this fall and accused them of being behind a series of sabotage acts that disrupted the country’s TGV high-speed train.

A fiery debate has raged in France since. Were they subversives targeting key infrastructure? Or harmless lefties in a commune who were framed by a government keen on whipping up fears to bolster its agenda?

Among the defendants are the couple who visited Quebec – Julien Coupat, 34, and Yldune Lévy, 25. Authorities say Mr. Coupat is the group’s leader and have denied him bail. The others have been released pending trial.

“They call it an act of terrorism even though not a gun or a stick of dynamite were ever found. At no time was any life endangered,” Ms. Lévy’s father, Michel, said in an interview.

Mr. Coupat and most of the accused lived in rural Tarnac, in central France, where they were well liked by the locals after they refurbished a farmhouse and reopened the grocery store.

A court summary of evidence alleges the group is “connected to the anarcho-autonomist movement who want to destabilize the state through violent actions.”

There is a European resurgence of left-wing radicalism, said security consultant Eric Denécé, head of the Centre français de recherche sur le renseignement think tank.

“It’s a new generation with totally different views from their elders. Their reasoning is one of pure and total rejection of Western society,” he said.

In Canada, this kind of militancy occupied police and intelligence services until Islamic radicals gained more attention, said Senator Colin Kenny, who served on committees dealing with national security.

    A pre-occupation vividly expressed in ‘Anti-Globalization – A Spreading Phenomenon’ (Report No. 2000/08, August 22, 2000), prepared by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service “us[ing] open sources to examine any topic with the potential to cause threats to public or national security”. (In Australia, such open source intelligence gathering has, like most everything else, been partly privatised.) It would be mistaken, however, to assume that “this kind of militancy” has been ignored by the state apparatus. (One, rather comical, instance of state paranoia is revealed in the curious case of the punk rawk band ‘The Suicide Pilots’.) Equally, one can trace the development of a security apparatus to monitor, contain, and if necessary crush “this kind of militancy” back to the nineteenth century. In Australia, the first such agency was the Counter Espionage Bureau, effectively a foreign branch of M15, established by the Australian Federal Gub’mint in 1916. (A useful history is provided by Frank Cain, The Origins of Political Surveillance in Australia, Angus & Robertson, 1983.) At this time, major targets of repression were the revolutionary industrial unionist IWW and Irish/Australian Republicans. Following the Russian Revolution and Bolshevik coup d’état of 1917, communists, especially members of the CPA, became Public Enemy Number One. Then as now, monitoring the activities of fascists and the far right generally has been given very low priority (for obvious reasons).

Mr. Coupat and Ms. Lévy covertly entered New York State from Quebec in January of 2008.

According to relatives, they didn’t want their photos and fingerprints in the hands of U.S. authorities. “They’re people who didn’t have the right passport, who reject biometrics and who wanted to see New York. That’s all,” Mr. Lévy said.

On the way back, on Jan. 31, their bag – which was being transported separately by a friend with a car – was seized by Canadian agents. Inside, they found a copy of Mr. Coupat’s driver’s licence, photos of Times Square, minutes of meetings and “subversive texts,” the summary of evidence said.

In March, a man threw a firebomb at a military recruitment centre in Times Square.

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said investigators checked whether it was connected with the border incident. “That stop did take place in Canada. Some pictures of Times Square, including the recruiting station, were found,” Commissioner Kelly said at the time.

A police source said there is no evidence the couple is linked to the New York bombing. “It could be a coincidence.” But it had started a chain of events. “It was just like dominos,” the source said.

Mr. Coupat and Ms. Lévy were brought to the attention of French security.

For months, undercover agents tailed the couple. The evening of Nov. 7, they were followed as they drove around the Paris region, making what the court document describes as evasive moves to foil surveillance.

Near 4 a.m., they parked for 20 minutes near a TGV route. After they left, a search of the tracks found nothing.

But at dawn, a sweeper train sent ahead of passenger traffic snagged into a U-shaped bar hooked on the overheard wires. That and three similar sabotages elsewhere disrupted traffic for hours.

A German newspaper received a letter claiming the acts were in protest against the transport of nuclear waste between France and Germany.

The prosecution says the culprit was Mr. Coupat and his group, alleging he was the author of an anonymous book, The Coming Insurrection, that advocates sabotage and violence.

    Chaos-crazed anarchy groups in the United States report that “An improved English translation is currently being worked on and will be published shortly”.

The summary of evidence says that Canadian authorities are ready to provide the French police with the documents they seized.

Canadian officials are keeping mum so far. A spokeswoman said the Canada Border Services Agency had “no public information on this file.”

The investigation is the responsibility of the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) led by the RCMP, she said. The RCMP will not confirm or comment on continuing investigations.

“They hear an awful lot of barking and only occasional bites,” Mr. Kenny said. “The theory is that it’s better to listen to all of the barking, even if some of it does not turn into reality.”

Support the Tarnac 9

[site of the US support committee for the Tarnac 9]

Unmentioned in Ha’s article is the existence of a state agency known as ‘Alliance Base’:

…a joint antiterrorist cell of the CIA and the French secret service… put in place after the events of 9/11 by French President Jacques Chirac and the President of the United States, George Bush.

According to the Washington Post (Help From France Key In Covert Operations: Paris’s ‘Alliance Base’ Targets Terrorists, Dana Priest, July 3, 2005), the Alliance Base cell was installed in Paris in 2002 to fight Al Qaida (the name Alliance Base being a literal translation of an Al Qaida cell). Great Britain, Germany, Canada and Australia are participating nations as well… The goal: analyze transnational movements of presumed terrorists and launch operations to spy on them or capture them. Official documents from the Ministry of Defense prove that the project has been in operation since April 2002.

Despite their disagreements on the war in Iraq, France and the United States have not ceased, since 9/11, from collaborating in the fight against Islamist terrorism. The DGSE (Directorate-General for External Security) as well as the DST (counter-espionage) has “regular bilateral relationships” with their colleagues in the CIA and the FBI.

See also : Cheese-eating surrender monkeys vs. very fast trains : Free the Tarnac Nine! November 25th, 2008 | “Your heads are full of rubbish because you have read too many books.” December 19th, 2008 | So Frenchy So Chic January 5th, 2009 | The War Against Preterrorism: The ‘Tarnac Nine’ and The Coming Insurrection January 17th, 2009

Meanwhile, in Russia, Russian authorities aren’t just imprisoning anarchists as terrorists — although they do that too — but murdering them.

Two political killings rock [sic] Russia
Ellen Barry
International Herald Tribune
February 2, 2009

MOSCOW: The mourners who gathered in a Moscow square, hopping and shivering against the bitter cold, grew still as the angry voice of the human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov echoed over a public address system. “I am tired of meeting my acquaintances in crime reports,” Markelov said in a speech recorded last November but replayed on Sunday. “We need protection from fascists, from the mafia, from those security services that simply serve them,” he said. “We understand well that no one but ourselves will offer us protection. Not God, not the czar, no one. There is no one left but ourselves.”

Aleksandr Grigoriev, 23, a member of an anarchist organization, said he knew eight people who had been killed for their political activities.

“I blame the authorities for these killings, not because they failed to protect us, or because they carried out the killings,” said Anna Karetnikova, a leader of the Anti-War Club. “I blame the regime because it is impossible to establish civil society here. The death of each person creates a gap in the ranks of civil society. The authorities have made it so that it is profitable to kill.”

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2023 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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1 Response to Suspicious Minds & Barking Dogs: Canada, France, Russia (& Australia)

  1. Fushichô says:

    Just to add that the president of the SNCF (French national railway company) admitted himself just after the Tarnac 9 were arrested that the U shaped bar couldn’t cause any damage to anybody and could only lead to delays, that such incidents happens regularly, and that much more dangerous acts of sabotage of the railways have occurred last year, never leading to anybody accused of terrorism and sent to jail, only accused, when found, of vandalism.
    Even though the police had been following Coupat & Co. for several month, they haven’t been able to catch them doing any act of vandalism, let-alone of terrorism, they only caught them walking near the railway, and found in Tarnac nothing but train schedule, a ladder and anarchist brochures ; because if they had found weapons, bombs or whatever, we would have heard of it ^^
    Oh, and in France, we only heard, and very briefly, about the letter claiming the acts of sabotage a few week after their arrest…

    I’m so proud of France, its president, its government, its police, its justice, its mass media, you have no idea ^^

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