Claude Moniquet

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Claude Moniquet is an expert on counter-terrorism and extremism and a specialist on Near and Middle East issues. He is the director of the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center. Moniquet focuses on terror networks and their European connections. He has published several books and studies including: The Faceless War (2002); Jihad. Secret History and European Networks (2004); and Jihad and Islamism in Belgium (2005).[1]

Career

Moniquet is a Belgian based journalist who has specialised in reporting on intelligence matters. Until September 11 2001 he was mainly active in Francophone media. Prior to that Moniquet wrote extensively about intelligence related matters.

In 1996, Moniquet was arrested by Belgian police investigating the child abuse scandal associated with Marc Dutroux. Agence France Presse reported that:

An investigative journalist digging into the scandal surrounding child rapist Marc Dutroux was held for questioning Thursday after a three-hour police search of his home, his employers said. Documents were seized from the Brussels home of journalist Claude Moniquet by prosecutors from the southern town of Charleroi and he was taken to the Charleroi court buildings.[2]

Moniquet's editor Marc Deriez 'said he had also been summoned to an interview Friday with an examining magistrate in Charleroi.' Moniquet was working for the weekly Cine Revue which 'raised serious questions about the role of the police and local justices in the affair since it first came to light with Dutroux's arrest in August.'[3]

In 1997 announcing the death of the former head of the West German intelligence agency BFV (and alleged double agent) Otto John Le Monde reported that:

In their recent book, entitled History of Global Espionage, Genovefa Etienne and Claude Moniquet consider Otto John was an idealist lost in a universe that was not his and that he had probably been destabilized by two of his relatives', including 'a CIA agent named in Germany' and an 'authentic communist activist'.[4]

The rise of the Terror Expert

A Lexis-Nexis search in July 2009 reveals that the first English language citation of Moniquet's views was on CNN on 2 October 2001. Moniquet was interviewed in a broadcast report 'connecting the dots to Osama Bin Laden'.[5] In the longish report (the transcript is over 8000 words) Moniquet is interviewed in the same item were a number of US journalists and Michael Cherkasky of private investigators Kroll Inc.. The other journalists were described as being attached to particular news outlets. Moniquet, hoowever, although a journalist was described as a 'terror expert'. He duly performed his function by claiming detailed knowledge of the activities of a French based terror suspect in an interview with the CNN Brussels correspondent:

DIANA MURIEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A man, investigators describe as a key manager of a European Al Qaeda terror network, 35-year-old Djamel Beghal is believed to be cooperating with French anti-terrorist judge, Jean-Louis Bruguiere.
Beghal, a French national of Algerian origin, arrived in Paris after being extradited from the United Arab Emirates last weekend. He'd been arrested there in July, traveling on a false French passport. Sources say he had already cooperated with the investigating authorities in Dubai. Experts say Beghal, anxious to avoid extradition to the United States, is trying to cut a deal with the French prosecutors.
CLAUDE MONIQUET, TERRORISM EXPERT: If he come in force, the French cannot expel him. And in France, he has committed no crimes just the intention to do it. And it's sufficient in France to be precipitous except for association of terrorists. But for this, the maximum is 10 years.
MURIEL: ... The man being questioned now in Paris, Djamel Beghal, appears central to Bin Laden's European operation.
MONIQUET: Beghal was in charge of cell operating in France, in Belgium, in Holland and maybe in Italy and Spain. The -- in confirming, I think we will know it's exactly. But it was significant because he was preparing the attack on the American embassy in Paris and the American Cultural Center in Paris.[6]

After this early appearance in the English Language media Moniquet went on to become something of a regular on CNN. In January 2002 Moniquet was credited as a 'Freelance reporter... in Brussels, Belgium' contributing to a story on Richard Reid the alleged 'shoebomber' on the CNN website[7]. Then, in May 2002 he was referenced as a 'Brussels-based CNN Consultant' when reporting on a suicide bombing in Pakistan on the CNN website[8] and by the time he contributed to a report on a Ricin attack at a Paris rail station in March 2003 his status had been elevated again to 'Consultant'[9].

Investigators also believe the men arrested Friday may have been part of a network of cells operating throughout Italy and Europe with links to the GIA (Armed Islamic Group) and the GSPC (Salafist Group for Call and Combat), and ultimately with Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network. Salafism, a philosophy shared by bin Laden, is a pan-Islamic movement advocating a return to the purity of the roots of Islam, as Mohammed and his companions practiced it. The GSPC is an offshoot of the GIA, the most radical antigovernment force in Algeria, which has been waging war on the government for several years. Where the GIA puts priority on overthrowing the Algerian government, the GSPC believes "that if jihad is not international, it has no meaning," says Claude Moniquet, an expert on fundamentalist Islamic groups.[10]

Assault in Brussels

On September 12th 2004, upon leaving the Brussels studios of television company RTL, Moniquet was approached and assaulted by Rachid Belabed; a Belgian footballer of Moroccan descent. Belabed had taken exception to previous televised remarks which Moniquet had made in a debate regarding terrorism and struck Moniquet several times[11]. Mr Moniquet, who had been taking part in a talk show about terrorism, told a Brussels newspaper: "A man approached me. He was tense, nervous and said he wanted to talk to me. "He said, 'I don't like you. You are an enemy of Islam, a racist'."[12]. Belabed was subsequently fired by La Louviere. Moniquet expressed surprise at the identity of his attacker as he "heralds from a stable family with a good background, [he] did not fit the 'typical' terrorist profile."[13]. A year later, in response to a story of a Belgian national taking part in a suicide bombing in Iraq, Moniquet expanded on this 'typical' profile; "this is the classic profile: someone with bad family ties, and a history of trouble with the law."[14]

Iran

Moniquet's articles, opinion pieces and rhetoric since the formation of the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center have often focused on the alleged Iranian threat to Europe. In May 2007, Moniquet presented an analysis to a meeting at the London House of Commons entitled "Iranian Sponsored Terrorism in Europe" organised by Open Europe, a London think-tank, and Conservative lawmaker Patrick Mercer. In it, he asked, is there "any real threat of a wave of terrorist attacks sponsored by Iran, in Europe or in the United States, if a military operation is decided to solve the problem of the Iranian nuclear program?" The answer, he concluded, is yes.[15]

According to the Associated Press, Moniquet also said: "'We have serious signals that something is under preparation in Europe,' Moniquet said, though he did not present any evidence to the meeting. 'Iranian intelligence is working extremely hard to prepare its people and to prepare actions.' ... Iran appeared to be preparing to target 'British citizens on the streets of London, just as they kill British soldiers in the south of Iraq,' Moniquet said" [16]

In a report published on July 13th 2009 on what it refers to as Iranian Shiite expansionism, Moniquet wrote:

From the Gulf region to North Africa, and passing through Muslim communities in Europe, the Islamic Republic of Iran for thirty years has been spreading subversion, and has been involved in terrorism and covert action to topple moderate regimes and to attempt to favour a “revolutionary” Shiism. All the security and intelligence services in Tehran, as well as propaganda and “parallel diplomacy” means have been used with one purpose: make the Islamic Republic THE regional power in the Middle East. ESISC devotes a detailed study to this phenomenon too often ignored by observers." [17]

Western Sahara

Moniquet was the lead author of a 2005 ESISC report entitled "The Polisario Front, credible negotiations partner or after-effect of the cold war and obstacle to a political solution in Western Sahara?."[18]

Will Sommer of the blog 'One Hump or Two?', claimed that "this report tickled the Moroccan government because it backed up everything they'd been saying that no one had believed before."[19].

The ESISC report cites an alleged Moroccan defector on the foundation of Polisario:

Juan Vivés was present in Algeria at the time. In a recently published book of memoirs, he writes: "In any case, following this assassination, Fidel was seized by one of those fits of angers of which he alone knew the secret, and he swore that Morocco would be a land of vengeance". It is at that

time that the decision was made to arm and supervise the group that was, a few years later, to take the name of Polisario Front: “History will thus recall”,wrote Vivés, "that the two oldest armed organizations of the planet, ETA and the Polisario, were developed by Cuba, and the second, in particular, by Che in person".[20]

Polisario representative Sidi Omar wrote of this passage:

Another weird claim appears to be based on the testimony of someone called Juan Vivés, an allegedly former high-level manager of the Cuban intelligence services who had taken refuge in France for more than twenty years. According to Mr. Vivés, the POLISARIO was created by Cuba, and by Che himself, some time in 1973! This is a preposterous claim, for the simple reason that it is well known that Che Guevara had already died in 1967. This, however, shows the arbitrary way in which the authors of the report have chosen and checked their sources.[21]

Following publication of the ESISC report, the Moroccan magazine Le Journal Hebdomaire wrote a story alleging that it may have been funded by the Moroccan government.

'Mr Moniquet said that the newspaper "did not at any moment deem it necessary to contact us, not before and not even after the article was published, despite several unsuccessful contacts". According to him, "there was well and truly professional misconduct", this is why "we insist on a compensation".'[22]

As a result, Moniquet sued the magazine for defamation and won damages amounting to 3 million dirhams (roughly 265,000 Euros)[23] The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists has noted that:

The damages were the largest ever for a press defamation suit in Morocco, according to Moroccan journalists. [The publisher Aboubakr] Jamaï’s lawyers were prevented from calling expert witnesses, and the judge never provided an explanation for how he arrived at the extensive damages. Jamaï stepped down as publisher of the magazine earlier this year to prevent authorities from seizing its assets. He has since left the country, citing an inability to pay the fine or to work since authorities will seize his future income. [24]

Publications

Moniquet writes regular pieces for the Opinion section of the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center website which can be accessed here and to Réalité EU.

Moniquet also features as himself in Barbet Schroeder's 'Terror's Advocate' (2007), a film about French attorney Jacques Verges.[25]

Books

  • 'Jihad and Islamism in Belgium' by Claude Moniquet (2005)
  • 'Jihad. Secret History and European Networks' by Claude Moniquet (2004)
  • 'The Faceless War' by Claude Moniquet (2002)
  • Amaury Guibert 'Les Dossiers noirs de la Belgique', by Claude Moniquet, Editions Michel Lafon, 352 pages, 129 francs. (1999)
  • Histoire de l'espionnage mondial », de Genovefa Etienne et Claude Moniquet (Editions du Félin, 445 pages, 145 F) (1997)

Affiliations

Contact

Email: claude.moniquet@esisc.org
Telephone: + 32.2. 541 84 90
Twitter: @ClaudeMoniquet

Notes

  1. Realite-EU Expert Sources Accessed 20-December-2007
  2. Agence France Presse -- English, November 07, 1996 08:01 GMT, 'Journalist investigating Belgium's child-sex scandal held' DATELINE: BRUSSELS, Nov 7
  3. Agence France Presse -- English, November 07, 1996 08:01 GMT, 'Journalist investigating Belgium's child-sex scandal held' DATELINE: BRUSSELS, Nov 7
  4. Copyright 1997 Le Monde Le Monde 2 avril 1997 SECTION: Horizons TITRE: Otto John; Un bien étrange espion allemand SIGNATURE: ISNARD JACQUES, Translation via Google Translate
  5. CNN October 2, 2001 Tuesday, SHOW: CNN THE POINT WITH GRETA VAN SUSTEREN 20:00 Tracking The Terrorists: Connecting the Dots to Osama Bin Laden BYLINE: Kelli Arena, Greta Van Susteren, Brooks Jackson, Diana Muriel, Deborah Feyerick
  6. CNN October 2, 2001 Tuesday, SHOW: CNN THE POINT WITH GRETA VAN SUSTEREN 20:00 Tracking The Terrorists: Connecting the Dots to Osama Bin Laden BYLINE: Kelli Arena, Greta Van Susteren, Brooks Jackson, Diana Muriel, Deborah Feyerick
  7. CNN.com January 21, 2002 Monday Authorities track e-mails sent by alleged shoe bomber SECTION: WORLD, DATELINE: PARIS, France
  8. CNN.com May 7, 2002 Wednesday Karachi bomb 'terrorist murders' -- Bush SECTION: WORLD, DATELINE: KARACHI, Pakistan
  9. CNN.com March 20, 2003 Thursday Deadly ricin at Paris rail station SECTION: WORLD, DATELINE: PARIS, France
  10. Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA) March 7, 2002, Thursday Italian police explore Al Qaeda links in cyanide plot BYLINE: Courtney C. Walsh Special to The Christian Science Monitor SECTION: WORLD; Pg. 07 DATELINE: ROME
  11. BBC.co.uk Belgian club sacks Moroccan 13th September 2004, Accessed 22-July-2009
  12. 'Former Dons player sacked after assault', Aberdeen Press and Journal September 4 2004 SECTION: News; 999; Others; Pg. 7
  13. CLAUDE SALHANI, Analysis: Education key to fight IslamismUnited Press International December 13, 2004. DATELINE: BRUSSELS.
  14. David Rennie, 'Militants linked to woman suicide bomber held in raids' The Daily Telegraph December 1, 2005 Thursday. SECTION: NEWS; International; Pg. 18.
  15. Claude Moniquet "Iranian Sponsored Terrorism in Europe" Accessed 16-July-2009
  16. FOXNews 'Iran Drawing Up Plans to Strike European Nuclear Sites, Analyst Says' Accessed 16-July-2009
  17. ESISC Iran ReportAccessed 16-July-2009
  18. ESISC "The Polisario Front, credible negotiations partner or after-effect of the cold war and obstacle to a political solution in Western Sahara?" Accessed 21-July-2009
  19. One Hump Or Two? Claude Moniquet is so touchy Accessed 21 July 2009.
  20. ESISC "The Polisario Front, credible negotiations partner or after-effect of the cold war and obstacle to a political solution in Western Sahara?", Accessed 5 July 2010,
  21. Sidi Omar, Review of the ESISC Report on the POLISARIO Front, Sahara-Update, Yahoo Groups, 27 December 2005.
  22. Moroccan News Agency January 26, 2006 Thursday Moroccan court postpones lawsuit of European centre against local weekly, Accessed 22-July-2009
  23. Julia Day Fine threatens to close Moroccan paper Media Guardian Online February 20, 2006, accessed 21 July 2009
  24. Committee to Protect Journalists, 'Courts, press law undermine Moroccan press freedoms', 6 April 2007
  25. IMDb 'Terror's Advocate' Accessed 16-July-2009