Paris has been crawling with police over the last couple of days in an attempt to end a search for a man suspected of attempted murder and kidnapping in four separate events. The suspect, which police recently apprehended, is Abdelhakim Dekhar. He was wanted for the shooting of an assistant photographer. The photographer was an employee of a leading Paris Newspaper, Liberation. Dekhar was also wanted for threatening the staff of BFM-TV network last week with a shotgun, firing shots at the headquarters of French bank Societe Generale, and forcing a driver at gunpoint to give him a lift across town. Dekhar, the Paris shooter, has been apprehended, but as the plot thickens, the question arises, “is Dekhar a real life Jason Bourne?”
The suspect was found Tuesday in a vehicle parked in a parking garage. Dekhar appeared to be in a drug-altered state. He was found in parking garage after a tip from witnesses. It has been reported by French investigators that two letters were found written by Dekhar, which the police have dubbed “confused.” One letter was found in the vehicle with Dekhar, and the second was provided to authorities by a man who claimed to have provided lodging for the suspect. According to French prosecutor Francois Molins, the man who turned in Dekhar had seen a picture released by police and question the suspect. Dekhar then reportedly confessed to the man who subsequently tipped off police. Dekhar and he apparently met 13 years ago while working together in a London restaurant.
According to reports, one of the two letters recovered appears to have been a note detailing how the suspect wished to buried, suggesting it may have been a suicide note. The other letter however spoke of Libya, Syria, facist plots, media manipulation of the masses, and suffering in the Arab world. It went on to speak about neglect of housing projects, presumably the type which take place in old French colonies in Africa, referring to them as “an enterprise of dehumanization of a population forgotten by the capitalist elite.” The content of the letter seem to suggest that either the suspect was a silly old storyteller gone mad, or it might speak to the Paris shooter resembling a real life Jason Bourne. French investigators and the prosecutors office have labeled the contents of the letters as “confused”, however it does not appear that the full content of the letters have been released to the public as of yet.
So who was Abdelhakim Dekhar? The plot begins to expand when his past is explored. The suspect’s history goes back to the 1990’s, where Dekhar was arrested and accused of being “the third man” in an attempted gun heist gone wrong, which resulted in the hijacking of a cab, a Paris car-chase, and the deaths of three policeman, along with the death of the cab-driver and one of the carjackers. When Dekhar was brought to trial, he claimed he was a member of Algerian Secret Service, and that he was recruited for the purpose of infiltrating French leftist groups.
As the story goes, Florence Rey was a beautiful 19-year-old philosophy student with a modest background. She was presumably going along with a bright future ahead of her when she met a young man named Audrey Maupin. Maupin, three years her senior, was a dropout from the faculty of medicine at Nanterre (a commune in the western suburbs of Paris). The two fell madly in love and found themselves living in an abandoned house on the edges of town.
Maupin and Rey had been under surveillance by French secret police during their time in Nanterre. They had apparently come up on the radar due to their connection with an underground political groups which was presumably being tracked by the French authorities. After the robbery-car chase-shootout in the streets of Paris, police searched the squat where the couple was living and found anarchist material, such as “The Society Of the Spectacle” by Guy Debord. This in addition to writings by the couple that according to police had the tone of surrealism and situationism.
Debord, author of “The Society Of the Spectacle”, was born in Paris in 1931. He was a young man with an interesting background who eventually fixed his interests on the area of film and vandalism. The French war in Algeria bothered him as a young man, to the point that he joined demonstrations in Paris denouncing the war. Debord eventually joined the Letterist International, a Paris-based group of political theorists and radical artists led by Isidor Isou. Events transpired which left Debord heading up one of a number of Letterist splinter groups. In 1957 the Letterist International formed the Situationist International, with the help of the London Psychogeographical Association, which eventually began to pursue a course of neo-marxist criticism of capitalist society. The path pursued by the Situationist International is what led to Debord’s “The Society Of the Spectacle,” which was influential in the 1968 revolts in France.
Debord’s book, found in the apartment of the two love birds, Maupin and Rey, was written right in the middle of a nasty French-Algerian conflict known as the Algerian War of Independence. The war eventually led to Algeria gaining its independence from France. The bloody revolution was important war in the picture of decolonization, but it was fought throughout with unconventional warfare. Torture, terrorism, and guerrilla warfare were characteristic of the battle. The struggle was also a two-front conflict, on the one front between Algeria and France, and on the other a civil dispute between Algerians who supported a French-Algeria and Algerian Muslim’s who would have no such thing.
The conflict itself, which eventually led to the war was started with a series of 30 separate attacks by the National Liberation Front (FLN) against French colonists on All Saint’s Day. This led to the bitter conflict which shook the French Fourth Republic, until its eventual collapse. Finally, in 1961, French President De Gaulle decide to give up Algeria and plan a French withdrawal. This led to a bitter divide throughout the French military and people who believed in a French Algeria, in addition to assassination and military coups attempts. The French withdrawal also left some Algerians, like the Harkis (muslim auxilliaries for French army) out on their own, leading to the killing of 50,000-150,000 Harkis at the hands of the FLN. This French-Algerian conflict has come to be the basic template for unconventional warfare. Todays wars in the middle east, between traditional militaries fighting insurgent groups has its foundations and handbooks founded in this old French-Algerian conflict.
The methods used by the French against the FLN, such as torture and other “counter-insurgency” measures were accepted as successful in terms of military success. The only “drawback” to using such methods were found to be the moral implication that was attached to such inhumane methods. These methods however were practiced and employed in the Argentinian “Dirty War” of the 1970’s and 1980’s. It has been suggested by some that this took place with the support of French military advisors, along with the help of US military and intelligence service such as took place in Operation Condor.
When considering the 1994 actions of Audrey Maupin and Florence Rey, the question is being asked due to recent events, who was this “third man” Abdelhakim Dekhar, and what was his connection to those events. Dekhar claimed, in his 1998 trial, that he was working for the Algerian Secret Services who were involved in an open war on Algerian soil against Islamic revolutionaries, and who were involved in covert actions against such groups outside of the country. The courts dismissed his claims as ridiculous, however in the end could only find him guilty of “association with criminals” giving him a sentence of four years. It was after serving this sentence that Dekhar eventually found himself in London, where he presumably met the individual who turned him in to police recently in Paris.
A lawyer who represented Dekhar in the 1990’s during his trials stated to reporters, “He never seemed to me a dangerous or violent person. He was particular, with a particular personality.” She also stated, “He wasn’t an extremist, either from the left or from the right.” So who was the mysterious Paris shooter?
It is important to note that the French newspaper “Liberation” had written articles in 1998, the year of Dekhars trial, suggesting that he was central to the plot carried out by Maupin and Rey. The newspaper included quotes from alleged acquaintances of Deckhar who testified that he had played a “schoolmaster” type role in relation to the young revolutionaries. It would not be wild speculation to guess that such articles may have infuriated Deckhar by insinuating that he was mastermind of a plot, when he himself testified that he was Algerian secret service working undercover. It is also interesting to note that the newspaper is the same newspaper, “Liberation,” where Deckhar is suspected of shooting an assistant photographer in these recent Paris shootings.
So who was Abdelhakim Dekhar? That remains to be fully answered. Right now, he’s just a man in custody in connection with some shootings. However when one takes a peek down the rabbit trail of connecting dots with the Algerian War, the two lovebird revolutionaries, and the erie connection of the recent events in Paris with the events of 1994, it might be that the Paris shooter is something of real life Jason Bourne. Time, and more information, are the only things that may provide conclusive evidence of who he really is and why he did what he did.
By Daniel Worku