Shabaab executes French hostage Denis Allex


Denis Allex, from one of two Shabaab propaganda tapes.

Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia and East Africa, announced today that it would execute a French intelligence operative who was captured in Mogadishu in 2009. The hostage, Denis Allex, was the subject of a failed rescue attempt last week by French commandos. Shabaab said he was to be killed after the group “reached a unanimous decision.”

On Thursday, Jan. 17, Shabaab announced that Allex was indeed executed.

“16:30 GMT, Wednesday, 16 January, 2013. Dennis Allex is executed,” Shabaab said on its official Twitter account.

The al Qaeda affiliate announced the decision to execute Allex in an official statement that was released on its Twitter site, @HSMPress (Harakat Al-Shabaab Al Mujahideen Press Office). In the statement, Shabaab pinned the blame for Allex’s death sentence on France, and denied the French claim that the hostage was killed during the rescue attempt. Shabaab has maintained this position since the first report of the raid, while French officials claimed that Allex was indeed killed during the rescue attempt [for more information on the French raid, see LWJ reports, Shabaab releases photos of French commando captured in failed rescue mission, and Shabaab kills, captures French soldiers during failed rescue mission in Somalia].

“With the rescue attempt, France has voluntarily signed Allex’s death warrant. Following the failed operation, [French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian], aware that execution is the natural corollary of treachery, announced that the punishment had already been meted out, despite the fact that Allex was at the time alive and safe in another safe house,” the group said.

Shabaab said it would kill Allex after years of attempting to negotiate with France, and finally decided to kill him after the French commandos killed civilians during the rescue attempt. Two French commandos were killed; one of them was captured and subsequently died of his wounds, according to Shabaab. Two days ago, Shabaab released photographs of the captured French commando, who they claimed was the mission commander, and displayed his body with his weapons and gear.

“The death of the two French soldiers pales into insignificance besides the dozens of Muslim civilians senselessly killed by the French forces during the operation,” Shabaab stated.

Shabaab also claimed Allex was sentenced to death for France’s involvement in military operations in Afghanistan, Mali, and other “Muslim lands.” French troops have entered Mali to help the government retake the north from an Islamist alliance made up of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar Dine, and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa. Last week, the jihadist groups advanced southward to take control of Bamako, the capital. The three militant Islamist groups have controlled northern Mali since the spring of 2012.

“Avenging the deaths of these civilians and taking into consideration France’s increasing persecution of Muslims around the world, its oppressive anti-Islam policies at home, French military operations in the war against Islamic Shari’ah in Afghanistan and, most recently, in Mali, and its continued economic, political and military assistance towards the African invaders in Muslim lands, Harakat Al-Shabaab Al Mujahideen has reached a unanimous decision to execute the French intelligence officer, Dennis Allex,” the terror group said.

Shabaab also provided some details on the “botched rescue operation,” which it described as “an abysmal failure; both in terms of intelligence and the ground operation.” The group claimed the French assault team landed outside of the Shabaab-held town of Bulo-Marer and killed “all the villagers that crossed their path.”

“But before the French forces could reach their destination, the Mujahideen in Bulo-Marer were alerted by HSM intelligence teams who had information of the French movements,” Shabaab stated. The description of events roughly matches a report that was published by Shabelle.

Allex and Marc Aubriere, two French intelligence agents, were captured in July 2009 at a hotel in Mogadishu. Both men were posing as journalists and trainers for the Somali military. Aubriere escaped under mysterious circumstances and it is rumored the French government paid a ransom for his release.

France launched the rescue mission to free Allex as it was feared he would be executed by Shabaab in retaliation for the French intervention in Mali.

Shabaab officially merged with al Qaeda in February 2012 after working closely with the global terror group for years.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Shane E says:

    To my knowledge the capital was never taken

  • EDDIED. says:

    I know that France has outlawed the wearing of burkas in public and, this news has brought more havoc on the Shabaab so, I am sure France will make you pay dearly so, stand by.

  • DaGrise says:

    This is the pernicious evil that the West – led by the feckless American Administration – is running and hiding from in 2013. It bodes ill for the future of a civilized world.

  • Somali Nationalist says:

    No body is an Angle and immune from death, and no body is under valued as West thinks.
    French killed 8 innocent Somali civilian in their own land without justification and strangely cry for three men who went there to kill!!
    We Somalis say if someone bite you, he will not let you go untill you bite him back and this is it!

  • Kent Gatewood says:

    Allex alive is a restraint on French actions in Somalia, while his death would free France to retaliate as it wishes.

  • mike merlo says:

    After their initial clumsy attempt at liberating their colleague I strongly suspect that French Spec Ops will not be so cavalier when exacting their revenge.

  • Tunde says:

    Why do ppl write such stupidity and turn grave matters into a pissing contest? Case in point being Mike Merlo’s comment. We have no idea what the op plan was. We have no idea what the intel indicated.
    We do know that the plan involved insertion into a non-permissive environment infested with AS militants. It appears from reports that infil or attempted extract went hot. Once on the ground, French COS troops prosecuted the mission to their objective and met with some KIA whilst doing that. Amongst those was the captive DGSE operative.
    I applaud the courage of these soldiers and my condolences go to those that lost loved ones.
    It’s numpties that know nowt that think every HR/DA op has the efficacy and end state that op Nimrod or the Abbotabad raid had.
    Instead of slagging off the french like we’re watching six nations rugger, why post if you’re still riled up eating freedom fries.
    I suggest you take a look at the GIGN op on the Air France plane before passing uninformed comment about their capabilities.

  • wallbangr says:

    @ mike merlo: With all due respect, unless you are privy to information the rest of us aren’t, it seems a bit premature to conclude that the French special operators acted clumsily or cavalierly. Unless you are willing to take the word of Shabaab or the Shabelle news report, I don’t know that those facts are yet in. Their account is that locals alerted the militants after the French slaughtered civilians unprovoked. Dubious is about the best way I can sum these claims up, especially when you consider the source.
    Any special operations raid is only one minute detail away from becoming an unmitigated disaster. Take the simple rotor strike, which can cost the lives of everyone on board a bird. Hell, it happened at Abbottabad (thankfully, there were no casualties). But there have been casualties, including special operations guys, caused by rotor strikes. In Zabul, Qalat in Sept 2010 — something I recall because a mutual acquaintance of mine was close with two of the KIA. Anytime you come in on a helo you are flirting with disaster. Be it from a rotor strike, an extremely lucky RPG shot (e.g., Wardak, Aug 2011), rotor wash (e.g., 10/26/09 crash in Badghis) or the noise of the helo telegraphing your presence to the enemy (as some posit may have happened here).
    It’s not just the birds, either. Luttrell, Dietz, Murphy and Axelson got stumbled upon by shepherds (though some posit it was the discovery of the fast rope which was hastily ditched). The SEAL team and their TAC on Takur Ghar were caught in a hail of gunfire upon landing in the middle of an enemy hornets nest, after being told by the Spectres overhead that the mountain was clear. These operations are inherently fraught with the potential for ending very badly, which is a testament to the bravery of the men who volunteer for them.
    If you are drawing this conclusion from the fact that one French operator was captured, I would point out that even special operations professionals are not immune from such debacles. That the age-old notion of “never leaving a man behind” was violated here tells us only that things must have gone very, very badly. Not necessarily that it was a sloppy op or that the French were too cavalier about their enemy. Those things could be very true, indeed. I would respectfully suggest we withhold judgment out of respect for the dead until those facts are in. Every soldier knows that the mission plan rarely survives the first shot fired. And even the best are sometimes captured, lost or, regrettably, left behind. Even our own. I would point to Michael Durant (SOAR), Neil Roberts or Marcus Lutrell, just to name a few.

  • Tom says:

    Mike Merlo did you forget?
    The vietnamn war (US beaten by poor farmers)?
    Operation Eagle claw
    Camp Chapman attack
    Raymond Davis incident
    The Downtaking and killing of 38 US-SOF mostly DEVGRU in a chinook by light armed taliban farmers
    The failure in Afghanistan as whole
    (one of the poorest countries in the world)
    I can go on for hours!
    They are all tragic events that shouldent have occured, but the mother of failures are fom your soil.
    To admin dont censor the truth! Freedom of expression should apply here to.
    Mike Merlo is discrediting brave and (dead) french SOF soldiers – it is not ok.

  • James says:

    If anything, this event goes to show that we need to work together on this as a team effort; whether we work with the French, the British, the Indians or whomever or wherever is really beyond the point.
    I give my due respects to the French SOF’s that partook in this brave endeavor.

  • mike merlo says:

    The French attempt failed plain & simply. Its obvious from the results that the Operation was ill conceived & flawed. Sometimes ‘things’ go wrong. That can’t be helped. Bottom line it was a flawed clumsy attempt. You & others are welcome to “applaud” all you want. That doesn’t change what happened. Besides criticism is part of “The Summarization” process. Even Operations that succeed are subject to review & critique. Its called reality.
    Why would I take the word of Shabaab. The French are already publicly on record admitting that they screwed up & that their planning was ill conceived & that they erred in failing to take into account the variables that surfaced that they believe contributed to the Operations’ failure. The LDMA Mission is a horse of different color. There is little or no comparison between the 2 missions. One Mission took place in an Urban setting while the other took place in a rural setting of rugged terrain. The LDMA was a reconnaissance mission whereas the French Mission was a hostage situation. That the LDMA Mission was attempting to move through hostile territory of unknown “quality” was “accompanied” by a completely different set of objectives & goals. Whereas the French Rescue Mission was entering into a situation of known tangibles of definable “content.” The only conclusion here to draw is that those element’s of The French Intel & Military community tasked to plan this Mission screwed up miserably. Welcome to reality. The new “hot” Cold War. As long as we continue to underestimate our opponents these miscues will continue to bedevil “us!”
    As posted above French Intel & Military planners failed miserably. You & others are welcome to frame this failure however one sees fit. That doesn’t change the fact that the Mission failed & that the failure was due to clumsy slipshod planning. Welcome to reality. What I’ve singled out & discredited is not the unfortunate loss of SOF personnel but the gross incompetence by those tasked to plan this rescue Mission. Try & keep up.

  • Witch Doctor says:

    Unless you are an I/A I think it is wise to say we disagree with what the OP said, instead of naming names and pointing fingers.
    We are all gentlemen and need to keep that respect intact. Please read the Comments Policy.

  • Tom says:

    You are right James i couldn´t agree with you more!

  • Texas Heavy says:

    I agree with Wallbanger. The French were probably compromised before they even got to their objective. The firefight the French SOF come up against must’ve been tremendous, especially to leave one of their own behind. It seems obvious they were outgunned. And there ARE websites dedicated to the deceased French pilot by the way. But the French DGSE operator (he may have been a French Naval Commando) who was KIA…there is nothing on him publicly and won’t be for some time to come.

  • mike merlo says:

    @Witch Doctor
    With all due respect TLWJ is not a Cheer Leader Camp
    website. To date TLWJ has made available accurate unbiased accounts & content of relevant events pertaining to the GWOT. I for one do not mind having my views or opinions challenged or criticized. Nor do I mind being singled out for sharper responses. Such is the nature of the subject that such postings are not only tolerable but welcome. Besides TLWJ editorial staff has to date kept, at least in my opinion, within acceptable ‘limits.’

  • wallbangr says:

    @ mike merlo: I appreciate your response. As stated, my point was that from the accounts I had read in the open source, the facts were not yet in for me to conclude that it was sloppy planning, underestimation of force, etc. Other explanations could have certainly existed. Hence my asking if your source was the Shabaab account. I am not fluent in French, meaning that I, like many others who read this website, rely on English language press accounts, none of which included the French admission that you cite. A link, if you have one handy, would be appreciated. Again, my comment conceded that it may have been sloppy operational planning but, in light of the few details yet available, I thought it hasty to conclude as much based *only* on the outcome. Clearly, something would have had to have gone terribly wrong for such an outcome to ensue. But given what little the open source press accounts I read offered, I felt it best to withhold judgment, until the facts were in. I don’t think that doing so out of respect for the deceased was “cheerleading” or some misplaced sense of “patriotism.” The majority of the regular commentators here at the LWJ know better than to hold our forces and their allies are above reproach. Critique where warranted is welcomed by the more informed readers and commentators at this forum. I think most just felt that some commentators were a bit too quick stereotype the French, and to discount the professionalism of their special operators. The unfortunate souls who died on this op deserve a full accounting before judgment is passed either way. I’m sure they wouldn’t want a whitewash of the facts, either. I think the readers of this website are all capable of admitting when grave errors cost lives unnecessarily. And I suspect most would tend to agree with your point that willful blindness to poor planning and execution does a disservice to those killed on this op and to operators on future missions. Reasonable discourse should include constructive criticism, lessons learned — even where the facts don’t always paint the “good guys” in the best light. I suppose much of the ill feeling came from the French bashing on the other threads, much of which was uncalled for, unproductive and uninformed. I suspect the tenor of your comments, taken in conjunction with the lack of accurate reporting, led some to bunch you in with the ignorant trolls crowing about French defeatism on other threads. Many people who know better tend to bristle when it seems easy for uninformed commentators to stop by and Monday morning quarterback, especially at the expense of the French. I’ve read your commentary on other matters and was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. Hence my asking for clarification. Now, while we are at it, I am unfamiliar with the LDMA acronym you used. Please enlighten me.

  • mike merlo says:

    Fair enough. One of the news sites I go to is: Concerning language translations google has that translate ‘button’
    on can click on.
    I have no problem with the French. Militarily & with the sharing & collaboration of ‘intel’ IMO they’ve been ‘par excellence.’ In one of my posts to an earlier ‘insight’ on the part of TLWJ where they simply stated the French were planning an earlier exit from Afghanistan unlike most of the other ‘posters’ I postulated that this move was part of a wider strategy. It was simply a realignment of forces in preparation of intervention into Mali.
    The British & French on multiple occasion’s in the Post Colonial era have intervened in Africa. So this move by the French should come as no surprise in light of the ‘Arab Spring’ 7 past interventions.

  • mike merlo says:

    LDMA = Luttrell, Dietz, Murphy, Axelson

  • wallbangr says:

    @ mike merlo: Duh! Thanks


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