I might be feeling more confident about the government’s decision to give Huawei a limited role in building Britain’s 5G network, ‘on the advice of intelligence agencies’, were I not reminded of the effectiveness of British spooks by the recent appearances of Alexandre del Valle on French radio.
Del Valle is the author of numerous books on Islamism and the Middle East, a knowledge accrued over many decades, including a spell in the late 1990s working for France’s General Secretariat for Defence and National Security, an inter-ministerial body answering to the Prime Minister.
His latest book, The Project, explores how the Muslim Brotherhood has successfully spread across the West, and to promote the book he’s been giving a series of media interviews. One of them was a couple of days after Usman Khan’s murderous rampage across London Bridge. It was too soon to discuss that atrocity in detail but del Valle talked at length about how the French intelligence services despaired at Britain’s disastrous complacency towards Islamic extremism in the 1990s.
‘I remember talking to a member of MI5 when I was part of the intelligence-sharing network on terrorism,’ explained del Valle. ‘I was stupefied. Over the course of an hour in 1996 he talked of his pride that his country had welcomed some of the worst Islamists in the world, in order to keep them under surveillance, and so there will never be an attack. We saw the result.’
As part of this conciliatory strategy British courts refused requests from France to extradite Rachid Ramda to face charges of involvement in the Armed Islamic Group’s attack on the Paris transport network in 1995 that killed eight people. There was fury in France at what they regarded as their ally’s appeasement of Islamic extremists.