NEWS

Open Minds and History Key to Understanding Terror, French Expert Says

By Joseph Straw

ARLINGTON, Va—With his sights set on the French presidency in 2002, then-Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy instituted a collaborative approach to security risk analysis that now helps the government spot potential threats before they materialize, a leading French terrorism scholar told stakeholders Tuesday at a conference outside Washington, D.C.

Constitutional scholar Alain Bauer, chair of criminology at the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts in Paris, was a panelist at “Security Threats: A French Perspective and Response,” hosted by George Mason University’s Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at the school’s Arlington, Virginia campus. He shared the dais with peer Xavier Raufer, director of studies and research at the Center of Criminal Threats at the University of Parthénon-Assas – Paris II,

Bauer recalled Sarkozy, whose agency was responsible for domestic security, calling on him and fellow French security scholars to produce threat assessments to tell him “what will happen,” with regular updates, at least once a month. “He was the first ever minister that did this,” Bauer explained.

Later during his presidency, Sarkozy’s administration fostered the Strategic Research High Council to the President of France, a sort of trilateral commission consisting of equal representation from government, academia, and the corporate sector. The panel is tasked with reporting to the Élysée Palace on a set of specific intelligence questions, plus an additional threat topic of the Council’s choosing.

Two weeks ago, Bauer said, he pulled out a 2005 Council paper on the prospects of political upheaval and democratization in the Middle East, in particular countries like Bahrain, with Sunni regimes but predominately Shia populations.

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