Yesterday when we reported on the latest developments in the French (and global) response to the September 13 terrorist attack we noted something quite unexpected: France, in the words of its prime minister, had been warned in advance that an attack was coming.
Perhaps preempting the question how the NSA and Europe's sterling intelligence - which collects all the private information except that which is actually needed to avert tragic loss of life - failed so massively in preventing this terrorist attack, Valls said French intelligence services had prevented several attacks since the summer and police knew other attacks were being prepared in France as well as in the rest of Europe.
"We know that operations were being prepared and are still being prepared, not only against France but other European countries too."
Our confusion yesterday summarized: "If you knew, why did you not stop them them" adding that "perhaps some questions are better left unasked."
And yet, 24 hours later we have to ask again, because as the NYT reports, France had received an explicit warning about one of the terrorists from Turkey not once but twice. To wit:
The Turkish authorities warned their French counterparts twice in the past year about one of the attackers, Ismaël Omar Mostefaï, a 29-year-old French citizen who was known by the authorities as someone who had radical Islamist beliefs, an official said on Monday.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, in line with government protocol, said the government never heard back from France and only received an “information request” about Mr. Mostefaï after the Paris attacks.
“On Oct. 10, 2014, Turkey received an information request regarding four terror suspects from the French authorities,” the official said. “During the official investigation, the Turkish authorities identified a fifth individual, Omar Ismail Mostefai, and notified their French counterparts twice — in December 2014 and June 2015.”
European intelligence officials believe that Mr. Mostefaï traveled to Turkey in 2012, and probably then slipped into Syria.
The Turkish official disputed that account, saying Mr. Mostefaï entered Turkey in 2013 and that there was no record of him leaving the country.
Pointing to the lack of communication, the Turkish official said the case of Mr. Mostefaï reflected the importance of sharing intelligence in fighting terrorism.
It appears it did not. Unless, of course, France had no interest in preventing a terrorist attack perpetrated by at least one individual whom it had been warned about. In which case the question becomes: why did France blatantly ignore and do nothing when warned. We doubt we will get an answer, however we hope at least the friends and family of the deceased casualties get a response from the French government.