Prosecutors in France are digging deep into cement giant Lafarge’s operations in Syria, particularly their factory in Jalabiya, regarding the financing of some ISIS and other armed organizations in the area.
Charlotte Bilger, one of the prosecutors in the case, has already put forth the following questions:
- Did French intelligence know about the financing operations?
- Did French military ranks have knowledge of what was going on?
These questions and the investigation began by the help of two factors: Independent journalism, and independent judiciary. The newspaper, Le Monde, first revealed in 2016, that Lafarge Cement had issued payments to ISIS. Now Liberation and other newspapers are on the trail. Following Le Monde’s expose, the independent judiciary took immediate action. They raided Lafarge’s offices which they share with the Swiss Holcim and got enough material to start building a case. Now, the investigation has gone deeper, and ties between the company and former Prime Minister Hollande and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fabius are being examined.
Below are the initial findings:
- Lafarge had bribed ISIS and other armed organizations as well as Kurdish groups, in order to get a free pass at control points since 2014
- Some suppliers to Lafarge have been paying commissions to these organizations, and these payments were channeled to Lafarge’s accounting system
- Lafarge made outright purchases from suppliers located in areas under ISIS control.
Now, as the investigation digs deeper, other questions have arisen:
Have Lafarge produced cement for ISIS’ use? Have they met Iraq and Syria’s demand for cement? Prosecutor Bilger is particularly interested in these two questions.
What we have here is a large corporation paying a role in the financing of a terrorist organization -either with the government’s knowledge, or out of desperation but by informing the government. This is a precedent case for other countries as well.
A crucial figure in the investigation is Veillard -a retired Navy seal responsible for the company’s security operations. Veillard was a candidate from the National Front for the local elections. He answered the prosecutor’s questions in detailing his relations with the French internal and external intelligence agencies, the French military. According to Veillard, Lafarge was a source of information for the authorities, and he used to regularly brief them on all the developments in the area, and even that following ISIS’ capturing of the factory in 2014, the two parties had discussed a military intervention. Veillard, in a secret e-mail to French intelligence had said that he was going to meet with two Kurdish leaders.
Further revelations were made about two additional security personnel who were members of Norwegian and Jordanian intelligence having contacts with terrorist organizations.
The factory was liberated by the American Army in 2015 with the French army joining them soon after.
Originally published in Turkish at: http://www.haberturk.com/yazarlar/umur-talu-2406/1932111-deas-cimentosu-didikleniyor