A week after the horrific attacks in Paris, French President Francois Hollande will have an opportunity to thank Morocco for its intelligence information that lead to the tracking down of Abdelhamid Abaaoud who was killed on Wednesday in the assault of Saint Denis apartment
|President Francois Hollande welcomes HM King Mohammed VI|
Morocco's King Mohammed VI was warmly received at the Elysée Palace today (Friday) by the French President.
The two leaders are expected to discuss security cooperation in the fight against terrorism including the exchange of information. The meeting between the sovereign and the president comes as the national and foreign press has reported using the Moroccan security services in tracking down perpetrators of Paris.
Intelligence sources reveal that the operation was made possible by accurate intelligence from Morocco’s DGST ( Direction Générale de la Surveillance du Territoire ), reaching the French security service and informing them about the time of the group’s meeting and the address of the apartment. The DGST maintains an extensive network of informers and collaborators in the Muslim districts of Paris.
France's intelligence services, like almost all other European anti-terror agencies, have failed to cultivate links into their Muslim Communities. Morocco, on the other hand, is in a prime position to do so. A French police source said that four representatives of Moroccan security services were in Paris on Tuesday, the day before the raids, to meet the heads of French judicial police.
Other sources such as AFP have also confirmed that it was the Moroccan intelligence services who put the French on the trail of the alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks.
Initially there was confusion as to the whereabouts of Abaaoud with one intelligence service suggesting he was in Greece. French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve said at a press conference that... "No information from European countries in which he may have travelled before arriving in France has been communicated to us. It was not until November 16, after the attacks in Paris, an intelligence service of a country outside Europe reported to have been aware of Abaaoud's presence in Greece".
The Daily Express said that the information mentioned by Bernard Cazeneuve came from Turkey. However, the crucial and correct information, according to RFI, quoting a Moroccan security source, came from the Moroccan services who warned the French authorities to the presence of Abdelhamid Abaaoud on French soil.
The same source says the Rabat information helped trigger the Saint-Denis operation in which Abaaoud died. It was also the Moroccan services who guided their French counterparts to Moleenbeek where several suspects linked to Paris attacks were arrested.
As expected the Elyseé talks were not only a way of thanking Morocco for what the French President described as "effective assistance", but a a statement from the Palace said that the two leaders had a "shared determination for France and Morocco to carry out together the fight against terrorism and radicalisation, and to work towards the resolution of regional and international crises".