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WikiLeaks NSA Docs: Surveillance of France Presidents & Economic Espionage; Investigation Underway for New Whistleblower

In Archive, Assange, France, NSA, NSA Files, Surveillance, WikiLeaks on June 30, 2015 at 3:17 AM

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06/23/2015

WikiLeaks:

Today, 23 June 2015, WikiLeaks began publishing “Espionnage Élysée“, a collection of TOP SECRET intelligence reports and technical documents from the US National Security Agency (NSA) concerning targeting and signals intelligence intercepts of the communications of high-level officials from successive French governments over the last ten years.

The top secret documents derive from directly targeted NSA surveillance of the communications of French Presidents Francois Hollande (2012–present), Nicolas Sarkozy (2007–2012), and Jacques Chirac (1995–2007), as well as French cabinet ministers and the French Ambassador to the United States. (Related: Snowden Document Reveals NSA Programs Used to Spy on France Embassies in US)

The documents also contain the “selectors” from the target list, detailing the cell phone numbers of numerous officials in the Elysee up to and including the direct cell phone of the President.

Prominent within the top secret cache of documents are intelligence summaries of conversations between French government officials concerning some of the most pressing issues facing France and the international community, including the global financial crisis, the Greek debt crisis, the leadership and future of the European Union, the relationship between the Hollande administration and the German government of Angela Merkel, French efforts to determine the make-up of the executive staff of the United Nations, French involvement in the conflict in Palestine and a dispute between the French and US governments over US spying on France.

A founding member state of the European Union and one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, France is formally a close ally of the United States, and plays a key role in a number of US-associated international institutions, including the Group of 7 (G7), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The revelation of the extent of US spying against French leaders and diplomats echoes a previous disclosure in the German press concerning US spying on the communications of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German officials. That disclosure provoked a political scandal in Germany, eventuating in an official inquiry into German intelligence co-operation with the United States, which is still ongoing.

While the German disclosures focused on the isolated fact that senior officials were targeted by US intelligence, WikiLeaks’ publication today provides much greater insight into US spying on its allies, including the actual content of intelligence products deriving from the intercepts, showing how the US spies on the phone calls of French leaders and ministers for political, economic and diplomatic intelligence.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said: “The French people have a right to know that their elected government is subject to hostile surveillance from a supposed ally. We are proud of our work with leading French publishers Liberation and Mediapart to bring this story to light. French readers can expect more timely and important revelations in the near future.”

Documents Released 06/23/2015:

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06/24/2015

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06/24/2015

RT (1) (2):

French President Francois Hollande has described reports from WikiLeaks that Washington spied on three French presidents as “unacceptable.” The French Foreign Ministry is summoning the US ambassador to shed light on the allegations.

Hollande released the statement following an emergency meeting with key heads of intelligence and ministers at the Elysee Palace in the French capital.

“France will not tolerate actions that threaten its security and the protection of its interests,” the president’s office said, adding that allegations of spying on French interests had been made in the past.

“Commitments were made by the US authorities. They need to be recalled and strictly respected,” Reuters reported.

A French government spokesman said Paris will send a senior intelligence official to the US to discuss the spying reports.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has also summoned the US ambassador to France, Jane Hartley, to explain reports from WikiLeaks.

Before the hastily scheduled conference, Stephane Le Foll, a politician with the Socialist Party, lashed out at Washington.

“It is difficult to accept that between allies… there can be this kind of activity, particularly related to wiretapping linked to the president of the Republic,” Le Foll told iTele.

“When we are fighting terrorism, one has trouble imagining or understanding what would motivate an ally to spy on his allies,” he added. “There are enough dangerous crises in the world today.”

US President Barack Obama has assured his French counterpart Francois Hollande that Washington was not tapping his communications, the White House says.

In the phone call, Obama“reiterated that we have abided by the commitment we made to our French counterparts in late 2013 that we are not targeting and will not target the communications of the French president,” the White House said in a statement.

Nothing was said about the period beween 2006 and 2012, wwhich was mentioned by Wikileaks, though.

The statement released by Hollande’s office after the conversation, said in turn that “President Obama reiterated unequivocally his firm commitment … to end the practices that may have happened in the past and that are considered unacceptable among allies.”

Despite the surveillance scandal, the statement then said that French intelligence officials will soon go to Washington to “strengthen cooperation.”

US media cited a statement from the NSA saying it was not targeting and would not target Hollande’s communications. The statement did not deny spying had taken place in the past.

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06/24/2015

Mark Hosenball/Reuters:

U.S. and European security authorities are investigating whether a previously unknown leaker provided sensitive intelligence documents to WikiLeaks about alleged U.S. spying on French politicians, according to sources familiar with the matter.

U.S. and European security sources said the United States and allied governments were actively considering the possibility that someone other than former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided the latest documents to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

Two people familiar with documentation which Snowden acquired when he worked as an NSA contractor and later supplied to media outlets said that they do not recall seeing these kind of reports among those materials.

But some sources familiar with the investigations said it was still possible that these documents originated with Snowden.

The U.S. and European sources cautioned that they did not know for sure that Assange had developed a source other than Snowden inside U.S. intelligence. Assange has been in contact with associates of Snowden and helped arrange for him to flee from Hong Kong to Russia, where he was later granted asylum.

But until now, Assange, who three years ago took refuge in Ecuador’s Embassy in London, has published few if any documents directly attributed to either Snowden’s leaks or to the NSA.

Associates of Snowden have said that they believe he deliberately avoided giving sensitive U.S. documents to Assange.

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06/29/2015

WikiLeaks:

Today, 29 June 2015, WikiLeaks continues “Espionnage Élysée”, our ongoing publication of a collection of TOP SECRET documents from United States surveillance operations against France.

Today’s publication comprises seven top secret documents detailing how the US has had a decade- long policy of economic espionage against France, including the interception of all French corporate contracts and negotiations valued at more than $200 million. The documents demonstrate that the US National Security Agency, far from being a rogue organisation, is carrying out an economic espionage policy created by the US Director of National Intelligence. The documents detail the intelligence process, from the tasking of the NSA with collection of desired economic information to the production of developed intelligence reports, which are sent to “Supported Elements” of the US government, including the US Department of Commerce, the US Trade Represenative, the US Treasury and the Central Intelligence Agency.

Central within the cache of documents are two long-term spying orders (“collection requirements”) which define the kinds of intelligence the NSA is tasked with collecting in its surveillance operations against France.

The documents make clear that the NSA has been tasked with obtaining intelligence on all aspects of the French economy, from government policy, diplomacy, banking and participation in international bodies to infrastructural development, business practices and trade activities. The documents establish that the US economic intelligence operations against France have run for more than a decade and started as early as 2002.

Some of the documents are authorised for sharing with the “Five Eyes” partners – the group of Anglophone countries in close intelligence co-operation with the United States: Canada, New Zealand, Australia and France’s fellow member state of the European Union, the United Kingdom, strongly suggesting that the United Kingdom has also benefited from the United States’ economic espionage activities against France.

The cache also includes five TOP SECRET intelligence summaries from US spying on the conversations and communications of French officials. The documents show US spying on the French Finance Minister, a French Senator, officials within the Treasury and Economic Policy Directorate, the French ambassador to the United States, and officials with direct responsibility for EU trade policy. The intercepts reveal internal French deliberation and policy on the World Trade Organization, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the G7 and the G20, the 2013 French budget, the decline of the automotive industry in France, and the involvement of French companies in the Oil for Food programme in Iraq during the 1990s.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said: “The United States has been conducting economic espionage against France for more than a decade. Not only has it spied on the French Finance Minister, it has ordered the interception of every French company contract or negotiation valued at more than $200 million. That covers not only all of France’s major companies, from BNP Paribas, AXA and Credit Agricole to Peugeot and Renault, Total and Orange, but it also affects the major French farming associations. $200 million is roughly 3,000 French jobs. Hundreds of such contracts are signed every year. The United States not only uses the results of this spying itself, but swaps these intercepts with the United Kingdom. Do French citizens deserve to know that their country is being taken to the cleaners by the spies of supposedly allied countries? Mais oui!”

Documents Released 06/29/2015:

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Related Links:

NSA Spying on France: 70.3 Million Phone Calls Intercepted in 30 Days; Average of 3 Million Data Intercepts Per Day

NSA Document: 2012 “Flame” Cyberattack on France Presidential Computer Network; US Denies Involvement, Israel May Be Culprit

Al-Shabaab Calls for Westgate-Style Attacks on Shopping Malls in US/Canada/UK/France (VIDEO)

In Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, Archive, Canada, France, Kenya, Somalia, Terrorism, UK, USA on February 23, 2015 at 11:15 PM

02/21/2015

The Somali militant group Al-Shabaab released a video Saturday night calling for attacks on on Western shopping malls, just hours after the extremists killed dozens of people at a luxury hotel in Somalia’s capital.

Al Shabaab posted a 77-minute video that attempts to justify their brutal assault on Kenya’s Westgate Mall that left more than 60 people dead in 2013. In the video, filled with passages of Islamic scripture, a narrator claims that Kenya’s government has oppressed Muslims and that it is time to fight back — both against Kenya and against the West.

“The mall is popular with expats, diplomats, and scores of other Westerners,” the narrator says as previously released footage of the three-day siege taken from security cameras is shown.

“This video by the Shabaab resembles older releases by the group, such as ‘Woolwich attack: It’s an eye for an eye’, wherein the group commented on jihadist Michael Adebolajo’s killing of British Solider Lee Rigby,” said SITE Director Rita Katz.

“The English-speaking narrator in this video sounds remarkably similar to the narrator from past Shabaab releases, including the ‘Eye for an Eye’ video, as well as another regarding the group’s June 2013 suicide attack on the U.N. Common Compound in Mogadishu.”

At the end of the video, a man in camouflage appears on the screen and speculates on the damage that could be done at several of the Western world’s largest shopping destinations.

“If just a handful of mujahideen fighters could bring Kenya to a complete standstill for nearly a week, then imagine what a dedicated mujahideen in the West could do to the American or Jewish-owned shopping centers across the world,” the man says. “What if such an attack were to occur in the Mall of America in Minnesota? Or the West Edmonton Mall in Canada? Or in London’s Oxford Street?”

Then the speaker challenges a “man with firm determination” to carry out such a scheme.

“What would be the implications of such an attack? One could only imagine,” the speaker muses. “And all it takes is a man with firm determination.”

The US homeland security chief responded Sunday that he took the threat seriously, and said the video was a dangerous incitement to extremists already in the US.

“This latest statement reflects the new phase we’ve evolved into in the global terrorist threat, in that you have groups such as al Shabaab and ISIL publicly calling for independent actors in their homelands to carry out attacks,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told CNN.

He also warned shoppers in Minnesota to stay vigilant. “I would say that if anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they’ve got to be particularly careful,” Johnson said.

Edmonton police say there is “no imminent threat” to the city.

“This was a very general comment … it wasn’t a specific threat,” said Brian Simpson, deputy chief of the Edmonton Police Service.  “However, we as a policing agency …  absolutely paying attention to this.”

Simpson said despite the lack of a specific threat, Edmonton police have reviewed its procedures when it came to safety in all of the city’s malls. He said the services is working closely with RCMP and West Edmonton Mall security.

He said police have a “very good working relationship” with the mall, and that he is confident in the building’s security.

“I would dare say they have one of the best systems that I’ve seen,” he said.

West Edmonton Mall and the Mall of America are owned by Canada’s Ghermezian family, who are of Iranian-Jewish origins. Both malls have issued statements saying they were implementing additional security measures.

Scotland Yard said they were “assessing the content” of a video urging Muslims to attack London shopping sites including Oxford Street and Westfield Stratford City.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “The MPS Counter Terrorism Command is aware of the video and is assessing the content. We remind the public that downloading extremist material may constitute an offence.”

Other malls listed in the video include two in Paris, Les Quatre Temps and Forum des Halles.

Charlie Hebdo Massacre: At Least 12 Dead in Terrorist Attack at Magazine Office in Paris (Raw Video)

In Al-Qaeda, Archive, France, Terrorism, Yemen on January 7, 2015 at 1:50 PM

01/07/2015

Gunmen have shot dead 12 people at the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in an apparent militant Islamist attack.

Four of the magazine’s well-known cartoonists, including its editor, were among those killed, as well as two police officers.

Eyewitnesses described seeing two black-hooded men entering the building, dressed in the typical jihadist “uniform” of black balaclavas and khaki ammunition pouches. They then opened fire with Kalashnikovs in the office, with reports of up to 50 shots fired. A social media post from France’s AFP news agency reported that the men may also have been armed with at least one rocket-launcher, though this was not corroborated by other reports.

Upon exiting the office the attackers exchanged shots with police in the street before escaping by car. They later abandoned the car in Rue de Meaux, northern Paris, where they hijacked a second car.

Footage shot by an eyewitness outside the magazine’s office shows two armed men dressed in black approach a wounded police officer lying on the pavement. One of the men shoots the officer in the head, before both men are seen running back towards a black vehicle and driving away.

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Witnesses said they heard the gunmen shouting “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad” and “God is Great” in Arabic (“Allahu Akbar”).

Cedric Le Bechec, a 33-year-old estate agent who witnessed the attack, said that before launching the assault, the attackers approached a man in the street, saying: “Tell the media that this is al-Qaeda in the Yemen.”

Corrine Rey, a young mother and cartoonist who survived the massacre, said the men “spoke French perfectly” and claimed they were “Al-Qaeda terrorists”.

Ms Rey said she’d returned from picking up her young daughter from a kindergarten when she was confronted by two heavily armed men wearing balaclavas at the magazine office.

“I had gone to pick up my daughter at day care, arriving in front of the magazine building, where two masked and armed men brutally threatened us. They said they wanted to go up to the offices, so I tapped in the code,” she said, referring to the security system on the interphone.

The attackers went to the second floor and started firing indiscriminately in the newsroom, according to Christophe DeLoire, of Reporters Without Borders.

“This is the darkest day of the history of the French press,” he said.

Wandrille Lanos, a TV reporter who works across the road, was one of the first people to enter the Charlie Hebdo office after the attack. “As we progressed into the office, we saw that the number of casualties was very high. There was a lot of people dead on the floor, and there was blood everywhere,” he told the BBC.

Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, 47, had received death threats in the past and was living under police protection.

French media have named the three other cartoonists killed in the attack as Jean Cabut aka Cabu, Bernard Verlhac aka Tignous and Georges Wolinski, as well as Charlie Hebdo contributor and French economist Bernard Maris.

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(l to r) Maris, Wolinski, Cabut, Charbonnier, Verlhac

The attack took place during the magazine’s daily editorial meeting.

At least four people were critically wounded in the attack.

The number of attackers was initially reported to be two, but French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve later said security services were hunting three “criminals,” identified as Said Kouachi (34), Cherif Kouachi (32), and Hamyd Mourad (18). Cazeneuve said that Paris had been placed on the highest alert.

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A major police operation is under way to find three gunmen who fled by car.

The satirical weekly has courted controversy in the past with its irreverent take on news and current affairs. It was firebombed in November 2011 a day after it carried a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.

The latest tweet on Charlie Hebdo’s account was a cartoon of the Islamic State militant group leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Translation
Tweet: Best wishes, by the way.
Comic caption: Best wishes. To you too, al-Baghdadi.

al-Baghdadi’s quote: And especially good health.

Charlie Hebdo’s website, which went offline during the attack, is showing the single image of “Je Suis Charlie” (I Am Charlie) on a black banner, referring to a hashtag that is trending on Twitter in solidarity with the victims.

je-suis-charlieAlternate Translations (PDF)

President Francois Hollande said there was no doubt it had been a terrorist attack “of exceptional barbarity”. People had been “murdered in a cowardly manner”, Hollande told reporters at the scene. “We are threatened because we are a country of liberty,” he added, appealing for national unity.

French government officials are holding an emergency meeting, and President Hollande is due to give a televised address later.

After the attack, police warned French media outlets to be on alert and pay attention to security.

The country was already on the alert for Islamist militant attacks after several incidents just before Christmas.

Cars were driven at shoppers in two cities, Dijon and Nantes, and police were attacked by a man wielding a knife in Tours.

While the French government denied the attacks were linked, it announced plans to further raise security in public spaces, including the deployment of about 300 soldiers.

Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005 sparking riots in Muslim countries, says it has stepped up security in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack.

(GRAPHIC VIDEO) Islamic State Algerian Group Beheads French Hostage Hervé Gourdel

In Algeria, Archive, France, Gourdel, Hollande, Iraq, ISIS, Islamic State, Terrorism on September 24, 2014 at 2:37 PM

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09/24/2014

A video has been released showing the beheading of a French hostage being held by a Algerian group affiliated with the Islamic State (IS).

Hervé Gourdel, 55, was being held by a group calling themselves Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate. The group released a video two days ago saying it had kidnapped the French citizen while he was hiking in the heart of the Djurdjura National Park in Algeria. In the video a masked militant said Gourdel would die within 24-hours unless France halted its airstrikes on Iraq.

France rejected the group’s 24-hour ultimatum, with Hollande vowing the country would not be deterred from continuing its military action.

The video released today, entitled “A Message with Blood to the French Government”, employs a similar style to those used in previous videos by IS showing the beheadings of three/Western/hostages.

It begins with a clip of Hollande at a press conference where he announced strikes against IS in Iraq.

The video then shows Gourdel on his knees with his hands behind his back in front of four armed militants with covered-up faces.

The Frenchman briefly expresses his love for his family before one of the jihadists reads a speech in which he denounces the actions of the “French criminal crusaders” against Muslims in Algeria, Mali and Iraq.

The jihadist says the beheading is to “avenge the victims in Algeria… and support the caliphate” proclaimed by IS in Iraq and Syria.

French President Francois Hollande condemned the killing as a “cruel and cowardly” act, and said that French air strikes which began on IS targets in Iraq last week would continue.

Speaking at the UN general assembly, Mr Hollande said that Gourdel’s abduction and decapitation was a barbaric act of terrorism which presented a problem not only for the region but also for the world.

He said the fight against terrorism should know no borders and that France was now in mourning.

“It is not weakness that should be the response to terrorism but force,” he said.

UPDATE 01/15/2015

Algeria’s army has found the body of French hiker Hervé Gourdel, security sources and Algerian media said on Thursday, nearly four months after he was taken hostage and beheaded by Islamist militants.

The army had mobilized 3,000 troops to find the 55-year-old mountain guide’s body and launched a new search operation on Wednesday.

The search was headed by an elite army unit and aided by sniffer dogs.

Gourdel’s body was found buried without the head in Akbil, the town where he was abducted.

Police experts arrived at the burial site, located in a forested area known as Tabounecht Abu Youssef, that had been rigged with explosives, which a local resident said was aimed at “causing casualties among the searchers.”

Forensic experts were present to perform tests to formally identify the body, which was exhumed in the presence of Algeria’s senior terrorism prosecutor and the judge presiding over Gourdel’s case.

Army sources said Gourdel’s body was found based on information from one of two men arrested in connection with the case.

Abdelmalek Gouri, the man who claimed responsibility for Mr Gourdel’s killing, was killed in an Algerian army attack in December.

Islamic State Algerian Group Theatens to Kill French Hostage in 24 Hours if Hollande Continues Iraq Airstrikes

In Algeria, France, Gourdel, Hollande, Iraq, ISIS, Islamic State, Terrorism on September 22, 2014 at 5:02 PM

09/22/2014

An Algerian group linked to the Islamic State has threatened to kill a French hostage within 24 hours unless Paris halts air strikes on IS in Iraq, in a video posted this week.

Jund al-Khilifa (Soldiers of the Caliphate), which has pledged allegiance to IS, said in the video that it carried out the kidnapping of the Frenchman in a mountainous region of eastern Algeria where Al-Qaeda is active.

The hostage, Hervé Pierre Gourdel, white-haired and bespectacled, is shown squatting on the ground flanked by two hooded men clutching Kalashnikov assault rifles, as he asks for French President Francois Hollande to intervene.

“It is up to Hollande, president of the criminal French state, to halt the attacks on the Islamic State within 24 hours of this statement, otherwise his national Hervé Gourdel will have his throat slit,” one of his kidnappers says in the video.

France mounted its first airstrike to beat back the IS in Iraq last week, joining an aerial assault which the United States launched on August 8.

Gourdel says he is a native of Nice in southern France who works as a mountain guide, and that he only arrived in Algeria on Saturday. He was seized while hiking with Algerian friends.

In the video, the kidnappers say they are responding to a call from IS (PDF), posted just hours earlier, for Muslims to kill citizens of countries taking part in the US-led coalition against the jihadists who have seized of large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European, especially the spiteful and filthy French, or an Australian, or a Canadian or any other disbeliever… including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him,” said IS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani.

“Kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian or military,” he said in the message, which was released in multiple languages.

According to the Algerian Interior Ministry, the Frenchman and two Algerian companions were driving through the mountains near the village of Ait Ouabane when they were stopped by a group of armed men Sunday evening.

The gunmen released the Algerians and took the Frenchman, whom the ministry described as a 55-year-old mountain guide. The three had spent the night at a ski lodge near the town of Tikdjda, 110 kilometers (65 miles) from the capital, Algiers.

The area is now being combed by army and elements of the local guard.

The French foreign ministry confirmed a national had been kidnapped. “Everything is being done to find our fellow countryman. Authorities are mobilised and no hypothesis is being discarded,” the ministry said.

French President Francois Hollande spoke with Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal by phone, the French leader’s office said in a statement, emphasizing the “total cooperation” between France and Algeria to try to find and free the Frenchman. It said authorities in the two countries were in constant contact.

09/23/2014 UPDATE #1

President Francois Hollande vowed Tuesday not to give in to jihadists who have threatened to kill a French hostage in Algeria, as troops raced against time to find him.

“As grave as this situation is, we will not give into any blackmail, any pressure, any ultimatum, no matter how odious, how despicable,” Hollande said in New York, where he is due to attend the annual UN General Assembly.

Paris — which has denied accusations it pays ransoms — refused to be cowed by the threat against Gourdel, and Hollande insisted the country would press on with air strikes alongside the United States.

Earlier Tuesday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls had warned that if Paris gave in, it would “be handing them victory”.

Jund al-Khilifa (Soldiers of the Caliphate) has vowed to kill the hostage by Tuesday night if Paris did not stop air strikes in Iraq.

Algerian military planes were combing the mountainous eastern Tizi Ouzou region backing elite anti-terrorist units on the ground in a desperate bid to find 55-year-old Herve Gourdel, a security source said.

As the deadline loomed, some 20 truckloads of paratroopers also joined the search, a witness said, and police set up roadblocks along the highway that snakes through the mountains.

09/23/2014 UPDATE #2

Three men who accompanied the kidnapped French national in Algeria were arrested while a terrorist involved in the operation was identified, according to security sources.

The arrested men were a tourist guide, a driver and another person. They are accused of helping the kidnappers as the guide lives in the area and is aware of terror strongholds.

They told investigators they have nothing to do with the kidnappers, but security forces say they found evidence showing their involvement.

One of the kidnappers in the video with Gourdel has also been identified. His name is Smail Ould Djeli aka Abu Hayane, 34. He comes from Mauritania and joined al-Qaeda in Algeria in 2006.

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