Europol investigators are (almost) sure. "Right now, we have no physical evidence but a body of evidence" explains Michel Quillé, deputy director of Europol (*). "Part of the ransom is used to fund terrorist groups in the region. Links between entities and Al Shabab pirates exist is a functional relationship and not hierarchical. If criminal groups can launch piracy operations from areas controlled by Al Shabab, is that there is a modus vivendi and modus vivendi is paid. "
Highly organized crime
"Maritime piracy is not an isolated or occasional. We are dealing with criminal networks and hierarchical as in other areas of organized crime. The dimension "organized crime" is present ". Detect financiers, organizers, however, is not easy. "The challenges are many," says Michel Quillé. "The formal identification of the perpetrators of these acts, in areas where the central authorities, where the structures of identification of individuals are not solid, is problematic. It is also difficult to draw financial channels. The ransoms are paid in cash, divided among several players, and spread over the field (NB: So without a lot of traces). Banking systems are used informal systems. "For Europol, the work goes much by the recorded communications that allow" to identify the networks and structures. " A painstaking ...
A permanent survey
Since January 2010, Europol has established a file "Piracy" at the request of several European countries - France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands -. This database includes 21,000 items (the names of suspects, victims, numbers Gsm ...) - powered by members of the organization and States with which she spent Agreement (United States, for example). "50,000 links were generated, with dozens of investigative leads." The "aim is to identify the networks, individuals, relationships and actions." A joint investigation team "Nemesis" was incorporated, permanently. Under direction of a Dutch magistrate, it includes Dutch officers (some intelligence) and German, working in conjunction with the analysts of the European Agency.
No legal basis
"The sinews of war: what is intelligence," says the head of Europol. "We must improve coordination within the European Union." Some countries have information but do not feed the base, he said without naming the country (...). "We must also improve information sharing with stakeholders as close to area, for example EUNAVFOR Atalanta mission ...). But "unfortunately - he notes - there is no legal basis for an ongoing exchange." Europol organized contacts with other CSDP missions - as EULEX Kosovo. And the top police officer to wonder: "why can not we receive information permanently with Atalanta." The issue is under study at the European External Action Service (EEAS). And the question was raised, very formally, the PSC recently (early July). Meanwhile the informal exchange of information takes place: Europol analysts and regularly travel to Atalanta HQ in Northwood. Or conversely soldiers, sailors and officers EUNAVFOR Atalanta move to Europol (and a visit is scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday).
(*) At a conference on maritime capabilities organized on Monday by the Directorate of Strategic Affairs Ministry (French) defense and the Cyprus EU Presidency.