France reportedly rejected Israeli tech that could have prevented Paris attacks

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Israeli data-mining technology that could have given French authorities a chance to prevent the November 2015 terror attacks was rejected by higher-ups in Paris, an Israeli security expert said.

After the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015, an Israeli company offered France terrorist-tracking software that could have helped authorities flag the terror cell responsible for the Paris attacks that killed 130 people, the security expert said.

People pay their respects at La Carillon restaurant, one of the attack sites in Paris, on Nov. 15, 2015. /Reuters/Benoit Tessier
People pay their respects at La Carillon restaurant, one of the Nov. 15 attack sites in Paris. /Reuters/Benoit Tessier

The offer that would have enabled French authorities to “connect all the dots” in the Islamist extremist community was made to the Directorate-General for Internal Security, France’s main intelligence agency. The data-mining technology is used to analyze and match up fragmented intelligence reports from several national and international databases.

“French authorities liked it, but the official came back and said there was a higher-level instruction not to buy Israeli technology,” an Israeli counter-terror specialist familiar with the technology and the company behind it told “The discussion just stopped.”

The source declined to name the company or detail the technology, but said the technology has been shared with the U.S. and other nations on good terms with Israel.

“Government agencies struggling to foil terror attacks need access to technologies that allow them to connect their data fragments, making it possible to handle daily data challenges,” the source said. “With this system, all data can then be easily navigated, processed and represented by employing a set of powerful analytic tools and unique algorithms.”

Itamar Gelbman, a counter-terrorism consultant, said “the European Union has blamed Israel for everything that is happening in the Middle East and stopped cooperation in regards to military, law enforcement and intelligence training and banning university cooperation which [generates] much of the technology to fight terrorism.”

Israel-based security training expert Daniel Sharon said interest in airport and aviation security prevention concepts has risen since last month’s terror attacks in Brussels and that interest “transcends popular protest.”

Israeli “goods are boycotted in European supermarkets,” Sharon said. “But when they are in trouble they run to Israel for help.”

Less than a week after the attacks in Brussels, Belgian law enforcement bought advanced surveillance and rapid view technology from Israeli company BriefCam. The technology is already in use at the Statue of Liberty and various U.S. airports, said BriefCam President and CEO Dror Irani.

Gilles Perez, manager of HLS & Aerospace Unit at the Israel Export Institute, said the terror attacks in Europe will likely lead to a resurgence in investment with Israeli tech and intelligence companies, “given its undisputed status as a global leader in the field.”

“Israel has been facing terror threats since its inception in 1948,” Perez said. “In the 1970s, it was Israel’s national airline that pioneered the concept of an undercover security officer on every commercial flight long before it was adopted by other countries after September 11, almost 40 years later.”