French Intelligence Failed Again

The XX Committee

As readers of this blog know, I have a lot of admiration for France’s formidable intelligence services: both for their professional acumen and for their adult attitudes about espionage matters. But they make mistakes too, and I’ve explained some of the serious ones they made in failing to prevent Mohamed Merah’s awful mass killing spree in the south of France in March 2012.

It seems to have happened again. On Friday, customs officials in Marseille arrested twenty-nine year-old Mehdi Nemmouche as the prime suspect in the May 24 attack on Brussels’ Jewish Museum that killed three, two of them Israeli citizens. This attack seemed professional enough in its execution that some wondered if it was done by an intelligence service. Instead the killer turns out to be just another self-styled-jihadist-turned-terrorist.

Nemmouche is a walking cliche of this sordid genre. He never knew his father and was abandoned by…

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