France refused Israeli tech that could have foiled Paris attacks – security expert

Rescuers workers evacuate a man on a stretcher near the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, on November 13, 2015. © Dominique Faget
French intelligence reportedly rejected an offer to purchase terrorist-scanning and tracking software from an Israeli company that could have helped to prevent the November 2015 attacks in Paris, a security expert has said.

Certain “data-mining technology” which would have helped the Paris authorities to “connect all the dots” in the terrorist community was offered to the General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI), according to an Israeli counter-terror specialist familiar with the technology and the company, in comments to Fox News. 

The DGSI is a French intelligence agency that specializes in counter-espionage, counter-terrorism and countering cybercrime. It also tracks potentially threatening groups.

“French authorities liked it, but the official came back and said there was a higher-level instruction not to buy Israeli technology… The discussion just stopped,” said the security specialist, who gave the interview on condition of anonymity.

The expert did not reveal the name of the company and the details of the technology, but said that the software can scan databases from various agencies, including Interpol, and detects “high-risk” people.

The technology was reportedly offered right after the Charlie Hebdo shootings in January 2015, prior to the Paris attacks in November that killed 130 people. The expert believes that such technology could have prevented the deadly attacks in the French capital, and may even have been able to allow the Brussels bombings of March 2016 to be foiled.

READ MORE: Poor intel sharing within EU played role in Brussels attacks – Ex-CIA head

“Government agencies struggling to foil terror attacks need access to technologies that allow them to connect their data fragments, making it possible to handle daily data challenges,” the expert said. “With this system, all data can then be easily navigated, processed and represented by employing a set of powerful analytic tools and unique algorithms.”

EU officials, however, later told Fox News that there is no ban in the European Union on purchasing Israeli products.

In November 2015, the Haaretz newspaper reported a huge increase in demand for Israeli security technology orders after the Paris attacks. 

It is not the first report to point to EU intelligence failures ahead of the Paris and Brussels attacks. In April, Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper reported that French intelligence was alerted about possible terrorist attacks in France and Belgium nearly five months prior to the Paris assaults.

In March the former head of the NSA and CIA, Michael Hayden, castigated EU secret services for being too fixated on privacy issues and for suffering from poor intelligence sharing in combatting terrorism, saying that those gaps led to the Paris and Brussels bombings.