Exasperated by Britain’s failure to silence the Islamic preacher of hate, France considered drastic measures to protect itself from a terror attack, suggests The Suicide Factory  “PERHAPS we could snatch him off the street, kidnap him, take him to Paris and deal with him properly there.”

The remark stopped the conversation across the lunch table just as if a waiter had dropped a glass, smashed a plate or thrown water in a customer’s face. Reda Hassaine peered through the fug of his own cigarette smoke at his French paymaster, trying to gauge how serious the suggestion had been.

The silence remained unbroken, the word “kidnap” hanging in the air between them.  Hassaine did not know what to say. His job was to move quietly, unobtrusively inside the mosque, to write reports, to feed information back to Jérôme, the man with whom he was now lunching. No one had said anything about snatching Abu Hamza off the streets of

Jérôme, the immaculate “diplomat” from the French embassy, smiled at his companion’s discomfort. “Something has to be done. Chevènement says he cannot sleep on Thursday nights wondering what threat is going to emerge from the London Algerians the next morning or what Abu Hamza is going to say in his Friday sermon. Paris is very anxious that they will threaten France again.”

Jean Pierre Chevènement, France’s Minister of the Interior, had one worry in particular. It was March 1998. In a few months the football World Cup was to be held in France, and it was a huge security headache. Algerian terrorists of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) had bombed the Paris Métro in 1995 and the architects of that atrocity— regarded in France as a deadly enemy — were still on the loose, living untroubled lives in London.

The World Cup offered them an opportunity, and there were whispers in the intelligence world that something was being planned. It might take only a word from their spiritual guide Abu Hamza, an article in his newsletter, or a line in a communiqué pinned to the Finsbury Park mosque notice board to set the wheels in motion.

Friday was consequently the busiest day of the week for Hassaine, a former journalist and fledgling spy. On Fridays it was imperative that he heard Abu Hamza preach, made a mental note of any proclamations on the board and picked up a copy of the newsletter.
France was on edge. Such was her anxiety about the World Cup that she demanded co-operation from her European neighbours.

Where she deemed that collaboration was lacking, or less than enthusiastic, she was sending teams of agents abroad to gather intelligence on Islamist militants. Hassaine was part of the team in London, recruited by France’s DGSE intelligence service, to be a spy inside Finsbury Park’s Algerian community and its mosque.

Hassaine had fled Algeria after the GIA killed some of his closest friends and threatened his life. He was motivated by anger and a burning need to see justice done. Although he was married with a young son, and the entire enterprise made him feel nervous and unsafe, some sense of righteous purpose carried him on, recklessly risking his safety.

He had been working for the man he knew as Jérôme for several months when the idea of kidnapping Abu Hamza was lobbed like a grenade into a long lunch at the
Bangkok Brasserie, a basement Thai restaurant that was one of their regular haunts.  This was, the Frenchman said, “the ideal place” for their meetings.

Located in London’s clubland, the traditional haunt of spies, it was below street level, hidden from view on the corner of St James’s Street and Piccadilly. No one could see in from the street. Jérôme insisted that he and Hassaine always arrived for lunch at 12.30 pm to ensure that they got the table in the far corner, from where he could see everyone who came and left.  Hassaine finally ended the silence. He leaned across the table, and spoke nervously.

“How would we do it?” he asked, fervently hoping that there would be no “we”, that this was something he would not have to be involved in. “It would have to be a French ferry,” said Jérôme. “Once we got one of his feet on board that would be it. No coming back.” Hassaine might be asked to give a signal, act as a lookout, or create some sort of distraction at the mosque, but the kidnapping would be left to the professionals.

Unknown to Hassaine, there were a number of undercover French agents operating in London, and a team of assassins from Draco, a DGSE unit, had been placed on standby to take out individuals regarded as senior terrorists.  Another DGSE surveillance team was watching the mosque. Again, the agents had been told that the purpose of their mission was to prevent any attack on the World Cup.

The problem hampering all the plans – assassinations or kidnappings – was the attitude of the British authorities. Over lunch, Jérôme made it clear to Hassaine that while his contacts in the undercover worlds of MI5 and MI6 might be prepared to turn a blind eye to such an operation, there was unlikely to be any such help from the regular police.

“We might get some help from the British,” he said, “but we will not get any help from the British law.” He had himself been witness to the tension between the British and the French over his activities when he attended Scotland Yard after one summons. The call from the Special Branch officer emphasised that this was not a British police matter.

Abu Hamza said: “They called me and said, ‘Would you like to come to Scotland Yard, it’s not about us or anything we are doing’. They said the French police wanted to speak to me. They told me I was a British citizen and I didn’t have to answer if I didn’t want to.”  Abu Hamza, who was offering the pretence of co-operation with the authorities because it seemed to allow him complete freedom to carry on as he pleased, decided to attend.

At Scotland Yard he was taken to a room where two French detectives were waiting. A Scotland Yard detective sat in on the meeting, acting almost as Abu Hamza’s protector.  The French wanted information and showed Abu Hamza pictures of members of the Roubaix gang. He said he knew nothing.

“The main Frenchman was really upset and angry, he showed on his face he was angry,” he said. “But the Englishman was very easy about it all, he said I didn’t have to answer. At the end of the meeting he walked with me back to my car, he was smiling and chatting and everything.”

To French eyes, the British were protecting Abu Hamza and other dangerous men in the mosque. After a few glasses of wine during lunch, Jérôme would often express his anger, and refer to the British capital – as many in France did – as “Londonistan”.  Hassaine said: “Jérôme would complain that Scotland Yard was sympathetic to Abu Hamza.
They would say, ‘They are doing nothing wrong, we cannot arrest them for anything’. “But the French believed that this plot to attack the World Cup was real, that it was being drawn up in London and that  Finsbury Park mosque was the capital of Londonistan. The names of many suspects were passed to the British – veteran terrorists arriving from around the world – but the British did nothing.

They did not take it seriously, even when the French said that if anything were to happen they would declare publicly that they held the British responsible.” The extent of the World Cup plot has never been revealed. Some sources say that the key operation was to have been an attempt to assassinate the members of the USA team in their hotel as they watched the game between England and Tunisia on television. Others feared a bombing campaign. Ultimately, however, the greatest problem for French police was the England fans.

As France’s team lifted the trophy and sparked nationwide celebrations, the World Cup plot was best forgotten rather than trumpeted as an anti-terrorist victory. It was a happy moment too for Hassaine, watching from his flat in north London as Zinedine Zidane, his fellow countryman who was playing for France, emerged as the star player of the tournament

*Extracted from The Suicide Factory


THE MAKING; the 7/7 Bombings Shook Britain. But Should We Have Been Surprised? A New Book Reveals How for Years – despite Warnings – Politicians Have Been Happy to Let Islamic Fundamentalism Thrive Here. It Has Amounted, the Author Says, to an Act of Cultural Suicide.       

After the London bombings last year, ministers were appalled by how little the security service knew. Yet MI5 had known since at least the late 1990s that some British Muslims were becoming radicalised and recruited for the jihad, or holy war – and with British targets included in their sights. 

POLITICIANS were looking for political solutions to issues such as Palestine; this was what was in the air at the time, and the intelligence world would take its cue from that.’ Reda Hassaine is an Algerian journalist who, between 1999 and 2000, gave MI5 information about the Islamist radicalisation he observed taking place at the Finsbury Park mosque in North London.

He was astonished to find that his warnings were being ignored. ‘My contacts said: “We are giving these people a roof over their heads, food, free health care – and the security of Britain will be very safe. We don’t care what is going on outside this country.”’ The British, he said, had a problem understanding the culture of the Arabs. ‘I told them, you don’t understand this kind of threat.

One day they may attack you as unbelievers.   They said, we don’t think they will do it here. This is a special place. I told them Britons were going to fight, but they never thought they would fight their own country.’ British officials privately admit that such a bargain did form part of their calculations. The Islamists were being left undisturbed on the assumption that they would not attack Britain.

This bargain, or ‘covenant of security’, had been the dirty little secret at the heart of the British government’s blind-eye policy. As long as there was no threat to Britain, the government and security establishment just didn’t want to know. They kept an eye on the radicals, but only to make sure that English law wasn’t being broken.

* EXTRACTED from Londonistan by Melanie Phillips, published by Gibson Square Books



Al-Qaeda‘s Armies: Middle East Affiliate Groups & The Next … – Page 123


76 Maria Ressa, Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of al-Qaeda’s Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia, 95 Author’s phone interview with Reda Hassaine in London, October 1, 2003; Author’s interview with French official,

Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam
Mark Curtis – 2011 – Preview

Weapons trainingwith assaultriflesalso took place insidethe mosque.33 Itisknownfrom theaccount ofan Algerian journalist,Reda Hassaine, thatthe British security services were aware of manyof Hamza’s activities at the mosque. From late 1998

International legal dimension of terrorism – Page 149

3 But note the case of Reda Hassaine who was recruited in 1998 to infiltrate the Finsbury Park mosque: BAMFORD, B.W.C., The UK’s war against terrorism, in Terrorism & Political Violence, n. 16, 2004, p.737 at p.743. 4 Prior to 9/11, there had

Algeria: Anger of the Dispossessed – Page 317

See also his article ‘The new Great Game – the battle for Central Asia’s oil’, Far Eastern Economic Review, 1 0 April 1 997. 2 For example, 3,000 import-export companies were set up post-1994. 3 Reda Hassaine, ‘Undercover Agent’, Sunday

Spies, lies and the War on Terror

Front Cover

Contact with Reda Hassaine, who now had been working for DGSE for about a year, was precipitately cut off in November 1998. The promised French passport never materialized. Apparently upset by his betrayal, Hassaine went public and

The Middle East, Abstracts and Index

, Volume 26, Issue 2, Part 3

Front Cover

British security services ordered illegal burglaries in Muslim places of worship to gather information on alleged Islamic militants, a key MI5 and police informer, Reda Hassaine, 37, an Algerian former journalist and an asylum-seeker, has told

Terror and Iraq: How We Can Better Combat Islamic Terrorism – Page 196
Shimshon Issaki – 2008 – Snippet view

The story of Reda Hassaine, an Mi-5 agent who had infiltrated a meeting of Islamic extremists, is an example of how wrong these assessments were. Reda Hussaine used the cover of an Algerian born journalist who decided to join them

Modern jihad: tracing the dollars behind the terror networks – Page 131
Loretta Napoleoni – 2003 – Snippet view

At Finsbury Park Mosque in London, for example, people can buy false passports and ID cards, which entitle them to collect welfare payments. According to Reda Hassaine, an Algerian journalist who infiltrated the Finsbury Park Mosque, with

Snitch!: A History of the Modern Intelligence Informer – Page 133
Steve Hewitt – 2010 – Snippet view – More editions

His assistance involved turning in to the American military his own insurgent father who had apparently brutalized him in the past.59 Other countries offer similar inducements. Reda Hassaine, an Algerian by birth, infiltrated the Finsbury Park

Terror incorporated: tracing the dollars behind the terror networks – Page 136
Loretta Napoleoni – 2005 – Extraits

Abu Qatada, a Palestinian living in England, who has been accused of being one of al-Qaeda’s recruiters, expressed the view of According to Reda Hassaine, an Algerian journalist who infiltrated the Finsbury Park Mosque, with fake identity



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