David Drugeon, a French jihadist alleged to be part of the al-Qaeda Khorasan Group, is now being reported as alive after previous accounts indicated he had been killed in an unmanned aerial vehicle attack last month.
CNN reported on December 10 that it now believed Drugeon to be alive, in contrast with earlier beliefs that he had died in a missile strike from a U.S. UAV. “CNN’s reporting on Drugeon is the result of a collaboration with the French newspaper L’Express. Intelligence indicates Drugeon was seriously injured in the drone strike on his vehicle in November and immediately driven away for treatment at a location Jihadis felt was secure, L’Express is reporting Wednesday.”
A report from Fox News on November 6 said that at least one intelligence official had believed Drugeon had been killed in a series of air strikes on or about November 5. “A senior U.S. defense official confirmed to Fox late Thursday that latest U.S. intelligence suggests Drugeon is dead.”
The Fox report later added that the series of air strikes included manned aircraft as well as UAV.
CNN said that Drugeon is a high-value target for U.S. officials because of his background and knowledge. “CNN’s reporting last month indicated Drugeon’s knowledge of explosives, European background and access to Western fighters makes him arguably one of the most dangerous operatives in the global al-Qaeda network.”
The exact details of Drugeon, his importance to the Khorasan Group, and his true background remain disputed. An October 5 story from McClatchy said that he is a French intelligence officer who defected to al-Qaeda and subsequently its Khorasan Group. However, John Schindler, a former intelligence analyst and counterintelligence officer with the National Security Agency, called this allegation into question on October 27.
“We can put to rest McClatchy’s claim that Drugeon is any sort of French super-spy gone rogue. It cannot be ruled out that, to cover up something that might look bad, Paris is leaving out parts of the Drugeon tale, perhaps even important parts. Frequently jihadists are approached by security services to cooperate, sometimes with more than a whiff of coercion, and the story that is presented to the public later is too simple (Merah’s case certainly was more complicated than initially believed). It is possible that Drugeon cooperated with French intelligence at some point, Parisian denials notwithstanding, but McClatchy’s account of a top operative, some sort of French James Bond, defecting to Al-Qa’ida is simply untrue.”
Yet, others are not ready to concede that Drugeon is not a defector. The War on the Rocks blog published a post on November 4 acknowledging Schindler’s arguments but concluded that Drugeon’s full story remains unknown.
The Inquisitr previously reported on the Khorasan Group on September 23 when news first broke of the al-Qaeda branch and its importance after U.S. officials announced they had attacked it to prevent an “imminent attack.” Drugeon’s connection the group was not publicized at the time.