Was Paris Blindsided by Cairo?

France’s armed forces minister called for an investigation after a report that secret French intelligence intended to track jihadist militants had been misused by Egypt to target smugglers on the Libyan border and kill civilians. Investigative website Disclose, which has previously reported on other confidential dealings between Paris and Cairo, published dozens of classified documents which it said showed the misuse of intelligence provided to Egypt by a secret team of four French soldiers and six ex-military personnel. The team was sent to Egypt on a mission codenamed Operation Sirli in 2016, Disclose reported. At the time, the French military was conducting surveillance flights over Libya, where Islamic State fighters were active and France was concerned their influence could spread. According to Disclose, the French intelligence team was accompanied by an Egyptian officer tasked with listening in to live eavesdropping of conversations. Disclose said the French team quickly realised the terrorist threat was minimal and that its information was instead being used to target people smuggling items, from cigarettes and food to guns and drugs.


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