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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06PARIS2069 2006-03-30 13:39:00 SECRET Embassy Paris
Cable title:  

UPDATE/FAREWELL FROM TERRORISM INVESTIGATING JUDGE

Tags:   PTER PREL PGOV FR IZ MO AG TS LY KISL 
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1. (S) Summary: Jean-Francois Ricard, terrorism investigating
judge for 12 years and deputy to renowned investigating judge
Jean-Louis Bruguiere, is being promoted and transferred to
the Ministry of Defense to work as chief magistrate for
military penal affairs. Speculation abounds that Ricard is
being groomed to replace Bruguiere, who is nearing the
mandatory French civil service retirement age of 65. In a
March 28 meeting with poloff, Ricard discussed a range of C/T
issues, including the "jihadists to Iraq" investigation, the
Christian Ganczarski case and the conclusion of the ex-GTMO
detainees investigation. End summary.



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CHANGES AMONG THE TERRORISM INVESTIGATING JUDGES


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2. (S) Ricard described his new position at the Ministry of
Defense as advisor on military jurisprudence and informal
advisor on C/T matters to Defense Minister Alliot-Marie, with
the title of "magistrate general." He also plans on
continuing in an informal advisory role with the terrorism
section of the Paris Prosecutor's office. Ricard said it was
possible he would return in two to three years to take
Bruguiere's position. Leaving for a higher-level position,
as is the case for his new job at the Ministry of Defense, is
a prerequisite to being eligible for Bruguiere's job.



3. (S) When asked whether his replacement would be one of the
recently hired terrorism investigating judges, Ricard said
no. His replacement would likely be someone more senior who
already has the confidence of the DST, RG and DGSE
intelligence agencies. Ricard explained that the specificity
of a veteran terrorism judge like himself or Bruguiere is
that they are shown all manner of raw intelligence, even that
which can never be included in judicial investigations.
Being trusted by the intelligence agencies with this type of
information is a slow process, said Ricard. As an example,
he said it was only after five years as a terrorism
investigating judge that the intelligence agencies allowed
him to see the full scope of raw intelligence. Of all the
terrorism investigating judges in the Paris Prosecutor's
office, only he and Bruguiere are given this latitude, said
Ricard. Relationships within the French intelligence and C/T
world evolve slowly.



4. (S) Ricard confirmed that Bruguiere was seeking a position
in a future Sarkozy administration, either as Minister of
Interior or deputy Minister of Interior. Traditionally, such
positions are given to elected officials (with the notable
exception of current PM Villepin), and therefore Bruguiere
will likely run as a UMP candidate for deputy in the third
district of Lot-et-Garonne (southwest France) in the June
2007 legislative elections (ref B).



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"JIHADISTS TO IRAQ"


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5. (S) Ricard said the open-ended dossier on "jihadists to
Iraq" continued to dominate the workload of the terrorism
investigating judges. Within the dossier are four separate
investigations, and interest among French Islamic radicals in
fighting "jihad" in Iraq continues. Recently, Ricard said he
had questioned a suspect in one of the investigations who had
converted to Islam in prison, and upon his release, was
focused on leaving for Iraq. Iraq has begun to overshadow
the Israel-Palestinian conflict as the obsession for many
Muslim prisoners, said Ricard.



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EX-GTMO DETAINEES


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6. (S) Ricard confirmed that the investigation of the six
ex-GTMO detainees was finished, and the Paris Prosecutor will
likely charge all of them with "terrorism conspiracy."
Although the maximum prison term is ten years, Ricard did not
believe that any of the six would be given the maximum. The
investigating judges had successfully kept the Guantanamo
issue out of the actual case files, but it would be
impossible for the judges issuing the sentences not to take

PARIS 00002069 002.2 OF 002


into account the detainees' previous imprisonment at
Guantanamo, said Ricard. He considered only two of the
detainees - Khaled Ben Mustafa and Redouane Khalid - to be
serious threats. Ricard added that he and Bruguiere had
fought to keep Ben Mustafa and Khalid imprisoned, but the
length of their pretrial detention, coupled with their
detention at Guantanamo, had swayed the "liberty and
detention" judge to release them on bail. The trial of the
six ex-GTMO detainees should begin in mid-May, said Ricard.
Only one detainee, Brahim Yadel, is still in prison.



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THE INVESTIGATION OF CHRISTIAN GANCZARSKI


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7. (S) German convert Christian Ganczarski and Moroccan
national Karim Mehdi were arrested in 2003 and since then
have been in French custody under suspicion of having ties
with al-Qaeda. Their investigation continues, but Ricard
said he is convinced that Ganczarski was aware of the
planning for the 9/11 attacks. He mentioned a video he had
seen showing Osama bin Laden lecturing, Ganczarski listening
to bin Laden in the front row and Mohammed Atta, one of the
9/11 hijackers, right behind him. Ganczarski refuses to talk
at all, said Ricard. "In another time, he would've been an
SS general," Ricard added.



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TUNISIA, GICM AND LIBYA


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8. (S) In other updates, Ricard said intelligence-sharing
relationships recently had become strained between Tunisia
and France. The strain originated on the Tunisian side, said
Ricard, and he assumed that it was due to political
calculations. (Comment: Since a FM Douste-Blazy visit to
Tunis last fall, the GOF has become more outspoken on human
rights in Tunisia, though still much less so than the U.S.
End comment.) Regarding the Moroccan terrorist group GICM,
Ricard said investigations into a GICM cell discovered in
2005 were wrapping up, and he expected those arrested to go
to trial in September. Finally, the GOF had picked up some
signs that small terrorist groups made up of individuals from
North Africa are quietly using Libya as a training base, said
Ricard. He speculated that the Libyan intelligence services
are generally aware of this and working to disrupt them, but
said it would likely be difficult to do so given that the
groups are very small.



9. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.
Please visit Paris' Classified Website at:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm

Stapleton