The State as a Terrorist: France and the Red Hand

The State as a Terrorist: France and the Red Hand

by Thomas Riegler


The present article explores a less well-known episode in the history of terrorism: The Red Hand (La Main Rouge). During the Algerian war of independence (1954-1962) it emerged as an obscure counterterrorist organisation on the French side. Between 1956 and 1961, the Red Hand targeted the network of arms suppliers for the Algerian Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) and executed hits against rebel emissaries both in Western Europe and in North Africa. Today, there is consensus among scholars that the Red Hand had been set up by the French foreign intelligence service in order to strike at the subversive enemy. This makes the Red Hand a telling example of state terrorism and its capacity for unrestricted violence in ‘emergency’ situations. Since the Red Hand’s counterterrorist acts ultimately proved to be futile and due to the repercussions caused in France as well, the case study also highlights the limits of this type of counter-terrorism.

Origins of the Red Hand

In 1959, a member of the mysterious Red Hand gave an interview to the British newspaper Daily Mail. According to him, the mission of La Main Rouge was to give the FLN a taste of its own medicine:

‘The Red Hand is neither cranky nor a racist organisation. It emerged because of the existence of terrorism. (…) Although up to now no French official has dared to admit our existence, the newspapers and the public have recognised us as the authors of numerous counterterrorist exploits. We are not fanatical about violence. We claim the distinction of having to put an end to the activities of certain arms traffickers.’[1]

Although this journalistic scoop was later revealed as being part of a deception plan, the main message was correct: The Red Hand had been specifically created to destroy the lifeline of the FLN and to sow terror in its ranks. But contrary to what the Daily Mail interview suggested, the Red Hand was not an autonomous organisation; it had been specifically created within the realm of the French security state to wage war in the shadows.

The Red Hand’s chosen symbol was a deliberate allusion to the ‘hand of Fatima’, a symbol of luck for Muslims, which was usually reproduced in black or gold. Now it stood for acts of terrorism and became a frightening symbol for unrestricted violence.[2] Already in 1959 an inquiry by West German authorities had established, that certain murders were committed by ‘a secret organization called The Red Hand, which works in co-operation with the French Deuxieme Bureau, or is given a free hand by it.’[3] This foreign intelligence service had been renamed in 1945 and became the Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionnage (SDECE). While contemporary reports often hinted at a form of collaboration between the secret service and outside elements, more recent research has established that the Red Hand was only a front for the SDECE and its operational branch, the Action Service. For example, in 1985, French journalists Roger Faligot and Pascal Krop claimed: ‘Today we can disclose that the ‘Red Hand’ was purely an SDECE creation. ‘We guided this affair by remote control from the beginning to end’, stated a former director, ‘We had given Action [Service] branch the job of playing the part.’’[4] Furthermore, despite the fact that there is still no official confirmation, several key officials involved acknowledged in the meantime that all operations of the Red Hand had been approved at the highest political levels of France’s Fifth Republic.[5] As researchers Jim House and Neil McMasters have pointed out: ‘The heads of government had no moral or political compunction against the use of illegal killings in the ‘war on terrorism’, rather their main concern was that such assassinations should never be traceable back to them and that ‘deniability’ should be maintained at all costs.’[6]

Allegedly, the origins of the Red Hand can be traced to certain vigilante groups set up by the French settler community in the Maghreb during the 1950s. Organisations like La Main Noire [the Black Hand] in Morocco or La Main Rouge in Tunisia had aimed at preventing the decolonisation process by striking against outspoken advocates of self-government.[7] The killers got official assistance through the  law enforcement agencies looking the other way and through the active co-operation of the Secret Service.[8] In the case of  the Tunisian trade union leader Ferhat Hached, who had been gunned down in 1952, a former member of la Main Rouge confirmed the responsibility of his group in 2009: ‘I believe what I did was legitimate, and I would do it again if I had to,’ Antoine Melero said. ‘Hached's assassination was definitely committed by La Main Rouge in agreement with French government officials in Tunisia.’[9] In 1955, the vigilante groups claimed another prominent victim: The director of the Lesieur oil company and newspaper editor, Jacques Lemaigre-Dubreuil; he was murdered in Casablanca – obviously, because he had been a supporter of an independent Morocco.[10]

In the wake of the independence of Tunisia and Morocco in 1957, the vigilantes were fully committed to protect L’ Algérie française as the last French colonial possession in the Maghreb. But, as historian Mathilde von Bülow has pointed out, the Red Hand’s alleged record of assassinations and sabotage was ‘too spectacular and often too professional to be the work of mere amateurs, even the ones with semi-official support.’[11] In fact, the actions of the Red Hand were a major part of France’s clandestine and paramilitary war effort against the Algerian rebels. According to a ‘Plan for the Protection of North Africa against the Cold War’ conceived in 1955, which had been obtained by Von Bülow, the objectives of French special services included efforts ‘to destroy [detruire] the leaders of enemy networks’, ‘to annihilate [aneantir] the clandestine communications means [of the enemy]’, and ‘to destroy [detruire] the traffic, transit, and supply of armaments and other war materiel for the benefit of the North African rebellion’. These efforts were to be conducted both at home and abroad.’[12]

The Terrorist Campaign of the Red Hand

As outlined in the 1955 plan, the Red Hand served two major objectives: Disrupting the FLN’s supply line and to assassinate rebel cadres as well as their supporters even outside the actual war zone. This escalation of the French struggle in Algeria on to an international level had been prompted by the increasingly successful attempts of the rebels to get logistical support and war materials from abroad. Whereas the French had successfully thwarted an earlier effort to obtain arms from Western Europe, by 1956/57 the FLN had turned to international arms traders in order to acquire more modern equipment.[13] A major hub of these supply lines was the Federal Republic of Germany, where legal loopholes rendered the detection and prosecution of illegal arms trafficking very difficult. As long as these gaps were not closed, Western Germany was ‘a happy hunting ground for the dealers.’[14]

Furthermore, since the government in Bonn was keen to establish diplomatic links to the Arab world, Algerian nationalists could move freely in the country under the cover of diplomatic immunity. Therefore the Red Hand focused its activities especially on Western Germany. Starting in September 1956, there were at least four attempts against the life of arms manufacturer Otto Schlüter over a period of two years. When the last bomb attack accidentally claimed the life of his mother and wounded his daughter, Schlüter finally retired from business.[15] Another target was the arms dealer Georg Puchert in Frankfurt he had been contracted in 1958 by the FLN to supply Wilaya 5, one of its operations zone situated in West-Algeria. Initially, the French used sabotage to deter Puchert: Frogmen of the Action Service scuttled his freighter ‘Atlas’, which had been loaded with Norwegian dynamite for the FLN, in Hamburg’s harbour.[16] Then, in September 1958, Puchert’s Swiss associate Marcel Leopold was killed in Geneva by means of a poisoned dart shot into his neck, ejected from  a kind of bicycle pump gun.[17] Since all of these efforts had failed in discouraging the arms dealer, the Red Hand went in for the killing stroke: on March 3, 1959, Puchert died when a limpet bomb attached under the driver’s seat of his Mercedes detonated when triggered  by an inertia-based mechanism. Filled with ball-bearings, it did relatively little damage to the car, but left Puchert’s riddled body slumped over the steering wheel.[18] During the following two years four more German businessmen with contacts to the FLN were also targeted: One of them was killed outright, another severely wounded; in two cases the attacks failed.

In addition, The Red Hand’s campaign of terror struck also at the strong FLN presence in West Germany: in 1958 lawyer Ali Ahcene was gunned down in front of the Tunisian embassy in Bad Godesberg. Abd el-Solvalar met a similar fate in front of Saarbrücken’s train station in 1959. During the same year, a business partner of Puchert, Abdelkader Nousari, lost his arms when a parcel bomb exploded. A shooting in Cologne on 22 October 22 1959, claimed yet another Algerian victim while two others were wounded. In this case, the killers belonged to a rival group of the FLN, the Mouvement National Algérien (MNA), which collaborated with the French against its common enemy. But according to a police document from 1961, obtained by this author in the Swiss Federal Archive, not all terrorist strikes during this time had been really orchestrated by the Red Hand – the Swiss report claimed that some explosions had been the work of left-wing extremists, backed by the Soviet Union, in order to influence public opinion in West Germany. The Swiss police report mentions a visit of a certain agent of the East German intelligence service in a Munich based firm; it was targeted - allegedly by the Red Hand - only weeks afterwards.[19]
However, not only Cold War rivalries influenced the secret struggle; there was also cross-national cooperation behind the Red Hand’s activities: in 1996, Constantine Melnik, who had served as security advisor to Prime Minister Michel Debre (he was involved in setting up the Red Hand), emphasised in an interview with a German weekly: ‘There are situations, where enemies of the state have to be liquidated. Back then as well as today.’ Since the Federal Republic of Germany had been the main supply source for the FLN’s weapons, something had to be done: ‘We could not tolerate this’ – even if it meant sanctioning terror attacks in a neighbouring state, that was also a key NATO partner. But Melnik also stated that the French had, in fact, received implicit assistance from the Western German intelligence service in the form of information on FLN movements. Because of this, the Red Hand was able to operate ‘precisely’.[20] While this claim remains unsubstantiated, historian Matthias Rizi has pointed out, that the government of chancellor Konrad Adenauer at least played a double-cross game: on the one hand, it supported Algeria’s claim to independence in order to enhance its image in a post-colonial North Africa, on the other hand, it gradually restricted the freedom of movement of FLN emissaries in Germany, while turning a blind eye towards French intelligence operations on its territory.[21] Furthermore, it was reported that the Federal Criminal Police had supressed investigations into the matter of the Red Hand.[22]

The Federal Republic was not the only theatre of Red Hand operations in Western Europe: in Belgium, activist Akli Aissiou and two FLN advocates, Georges Laperches and Pierre Le Greve, were murdered in 1960.[23] The Red Hand was also implicated in the assassinations of Auguste Thuveny in Rabat (1958) and Ould Aoudia [24] in Paris (1959) – both lawyers by profession . In addition, it was as well responsible for the attempt on the life of FLN-representative Tayeb Boularouf in Rome (1959).[25] In 1960, Felix Moumie, a political leader from Cameroon, got a dose of thallium slipped into his drink in a Geneva restaurant. The assassin, a French secret service agent, had posed as a journalist interested in African politics.[26] On his deathbed, Moumie is said to have accused the Red Hand of his murder. In 1961, Switzerland witnessed yet another murder connected to the Red Hand: businessman Paul Stauffer was cut down by five bullets in the centre of Zurich.[27]

There may also have been an internal role for the Red Hand in France: in their analysis of the struggle between the FLN and the security services in Paris in 1961, Jim House and Neil McMasters  concluded that ‘during September and October well over 120 Algerians were murdered by the police in the Paris region’.[28] Small mobile teams seized suspected FLN activists at night, bundled them into unmarked cars, and murdered them in isolated locations. The killers allegedly originated mainly from ‘ultra’ elements in the police force, harkis (native Algerians armed units under French command) or came from the right-wing Organisation de l' Armée Secrete (OAS), which fought for a continuation of Algérie Française. Yet, as House and McMasters put it, there may have been also ‘a very discreet cooperation or ‘convergence’ in operations’ between the Paris police and the SDECE (and subsequently the Red Hand). The bodies of some Algerians, who had been interrogated and murdered in Paris, were allegedly cemented in concrete inside of oil drums and then dumped from airplanes into the Mediterranean. [29]

The main killing fields of the Red Hand are  said to have been situated in North Africa and the Middle East, the main strongholds of the FLN. However, unlike the events in Western Europe, activities in these theatres of covert action are less well documented.[30] While there are no reliable figures for the overall number of victims, Constantine Melnik has stated that the ‘secret killing machine’ claimed 135 lives in 1960 alone.[31]

In conducting its operations, the Red Hand had quickly reached notoriety: Its arsenal and tactics were indeed worthy of a spy novel – booby-trapped cars, letter bombs, abductions, sabotage of cargo-ships as well as assassinations by pen-shaped pistols or by blowpipe.[32] But not only the means were extraordinary, the rank and file of the Red Hand proved to be a ‘wild bunch’: For example, the outfit that killed Georg Puchert consisted of four men: Jean Viari, a former secret agent in Morocco also known as ‘The Killer’; a man nicknamed ‘Pedro the scarface’; Roger (Christian) Durieux, a former agent with a long criminal record in Germany, and Jean Baptiste von Cottem, ‘supposedly’ a member of the French foreign intelligence service – according to a Western German prosecutor.[33] The man who pulled the strings was exposed as SDECE-Colonel Marcel Mercier, a former member of the Résistance in the Second World War and later an alleged expert in combating ‘communist subversion and Arabian nationalists’.[34]

From the outset, gangsters and thugs from the criminal underworld had been recruited for the Red Hand - men like Jo Attia from Tangiers. But his mission to assassinate a Moroccan nationalist by blowing up a hotel in Tetouan in January 1956 went wrong and he had to be extradited at the cost of publicity. From then on, according to Faligot and Krop, only small specialised teams from the Action Service were authorised to act: Either they had to conduct ‘Arma’ operations (against FLN supply lines) or ‘Homo’ (homicide) missions.[35]

The unusual choice of weapons and the methods of killings (e.g. drive-by shootings), all gave the Red Hand a sinister, cloak-and-dagger style image. This deflected attention away from its real origins and purpose. In April 1960, even a press conference was hosted in a Versailles Villa: a one-armed colonel with ‘ice grey’ hair, allegedly a veteran of the French war (and defeat) in Vietnam (1954), informed selected journalists about a secret organisation called Catena (‘The Chain’), created ‘to prevent the Christian West being engulfed by the Barbarians!’[36] Catena was then identified as the ‘centrepiece’ of the Red Hand in West German press reports.[37] However, according to Faligot and Krop, it did in reality not exist  – like the propagated myth of a vigilante force running loose, the ultra-secretive Catena had been yet another public relations stunt to obscure the true background of the Red Hand.[38]

Outcomes and Consequences

With regard to the consequences of the Red Hand’s terror campaign, there is consensus among scholars that this form of covert warfare achieved only limited results. Although it caused havoc amongst FLN’s supply lines [39], this success also led to a redirection of the flow of arms towards the Eastern bloc. As Mathilde von Bülow has pointed out, the effective campaign of sabotage and assassination ‘forced the Algerian nationalists to rely increasingly on the Soviet bloc for aid. Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and the People’s Republic of China replaced German (and other) arms traffickers as the FLN’s principal purveyors, providing weapons in exchange for hard currency. Occurring behind the Iron Curtain, these transactions were much more difficult for SDECE to track and kill on the spot. Intelligence on arms trafficking thus became ‘more rare’, ‘less precise’, ‘more delayed’, and hence less actionable.’[40] In the same vein, Douglas Porch argues that the French terror campaign had ultimately been counterproductive: first, by opening of a European front in the conflict, the French unintentionally persuaded its allies that the Algerian conflict had to be settled. Second, the terror of the Red Hand thwarted the outrage over the FLN’s own usage of terrorism. Even president Charles de Gaulle is said to have complained that his agents were using methods ‘unworthy’ of gentlemen.[41]

Finally, the Red Hand proved to be a creation that eventually took on its own master: in order to prevent Algeria’s secession from France, existing networks in the French security- and defence establishment formed the Organisation de l' Armée Secrete (OAS) in 1961. The OAS tried to stop the political negotiations leading to a resolution of the war by widespread acts of sabotage and terrorism – and this not only in Algeria but also in mainland France. In 1962, the OAS even made several attempts on the life of president de Gaulle. There appear to have been strong connections between the OAS and the Red Hand. Contemporary author Joachim Joesten even equated both organisations: ‘Putting it in a nutshell, the OAS is the Red Hand, but minus official (governmental) support. The other ingredients are the same.’[42] While this claim cannot be substantiated, it is well established that a high percentage of officers from the SDECE and Action Service, including the head of the later outfit, sympathized with the OAS and provided it with assistance during 1961.[43] Colonel Yves Godard, a key OAS leader, had built an intelligence network for his organisation by exploiting his wide circle of friends and contacts with senior officers in the police, army, and the SDECE: ‘They provided him with detailed and sometimes remarkably recent information about FLN agents and sympathizers, […].’[44] Without being able to rely on these ‘old boy networks’, the OAS would not have survived for long.[45] Another factor that benefitted the OAS was that its former comrades in the intelligence services simply refused to join the fight against the OAS. In 1961, General Grossin objected to the deployment of his Action Service: ‘I’m against the OAS. But I don’t want to hunt down officers like ourselves. That’s the cops’ job, not ours. We mustn’t make the ‘firm’ blow itself up.’[46]


The Red Hand as a Showcase for State Terrorism

The term ‘terrorism’ is usually applied in a very narrow sense to refer to certain types of political violence carried out by non-state actors. The question remains whether a certain type of violence committed by state forces can be also constitute ‘terrorism’. This topic is highly controversial in the academic field – many researchers dismiss the label ‘state terrorism’ outright. This author argues strongly in favour of the proposition that there is such a thing as ‘state terrorism’. Use of the term, of course, has to be restricted to the violent conduct of conflicts in which regular state agents imitate a terrorist or irregular enemy and use the same dirty tactics through parallel structures of clandestine, paramilitary forces who apply ‘terror to fight terror’. ‘State terrorism’ can thus be defined as certain uses of extra-judicial violence by government forces in an irregular or unconventional conflict. In this situation all traditional rules are suspended and the subversive enemy is placed outside of the protection of the law. This is exactly what happened in the case of the Red Hand.

According to Hannah Arendt large-scale terror is the ‘essence’ of a totalitarian order; it aims to establish and keeping in place a system of total domination. However, extra-judicial violence may be a constant potentiality of all state systems, including liberal and democratic governments, especially during national emergencies such as war or in the face of a perceived threat to the security of government and the people.[47] As the example of the Red Hand clearly demonstrates, a democratic government orchestrated a policy of state-sanctioned murder. In this particular French case, state terrorism was constituted by the following characteristics:

  • Red Hand terrorism had a strong ideological foundation: According to the doctrine of guerre révolutionnaire which wasshaped by the French army in its postcolonial campaigns in East Asia and the Maghreb, Western civilisation itself was under attack by global communism. The new forms of guerrilla warfare and terrorism perpetrated by organisations like the FLN amounted to a deadly challenge that had to be fought on its own terms.[48] As Colonel Roger Trinquier put it in his influential study La Guerre Moderne (1961): ‘[...] it is certainly not methods of traditional warfare we should employ. Attacked on our own territory with the methods of modern warfare, we must carry the war to the enemy with the same methods.’[49] This is exactly what happened in the case of the Red Hand: The SDECE imitated its enemies by establishing a clandestine, paramilitary death squad, to carry out extra-legal assassinations and sabotage – even operating in sovereign nations friendly to France.
  • The secret struggle was not only endorsed by the political establishment - the SDECE got its directives from the very top of government. The perceived different nature of the struggle against the FLN seemingly legitimated the abandonment of normal rules of domestic and international law. Eventually, as the case of the OAS demonstrates, this sort of illegitimate violence eventually turned against the state that had exploited and encouraged it.
  • The campaign of the Red Hand was not proportionate, on the contrary it claimed many innocent victims. With many official records still classified, the exact toll of the Red Hand cannot be determined even half a century later.
  • The example of the Red Hand also demonstrates that unconventional strategies often wield negative results: As Andrew Silke has pointed out, terrorist organisations are able to endure harsh measures, ‘not because the people and resources lost are not important, but because the violence works to increase the motivation of more members than it decreases, and works to attract more support and sympathy to the group than it frightens away.’[50]



In 2010, movie director Rachid Bouchareb presented his film Hors-la-loi (Outside the Law)[51]. It is a story about three very different brothers, brought together in their fight for Algeria’s independence. One of them is already a political activist and mobilises other activists for the FLN from among the migrant workers’ community in Paris. In addition, they begin to target police officers who have interrogated some of their colleagues and who made suspected FLN sympathisers ‘disappear’. To supress this growing challenge, Colonel Faivre (Bernard Blancan), organizes a clandestine organisation, called the Red Hand - like its real-life counterpart. He argues: ‘We must fight terrorism on its own terms. To do so, we’ll found a covert organisation with the appearance of a criminal society. The Minister of Justice and Chief of Police guarantee us immunity where our work is concerned. Its name: The Red Hand. Its goal: terrorize the FLN supporters and eliminate its leaders.’ The movie then depicts Algerians being gunned down with silenced pistols, car bombings, and explosions in the migrant shantytowns outside of Paris.[52]
Bouchareb’s film reminded the French public about a forgotten and suppressed chapter in the country’s recent history. Yet the example of The Red Hand also works on a general level: it illustrates how far even democratic authorities are prepared to go in so-called ‘emergency situations’. In the history of counterterrorism, there are many examples of states crossing lines deliberately: In Latin America during the 1970s, many right-wing dictatorships actually copied the French model of counterinsurgency in order to defeat leftist guerrillas.[53] In 1975, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil jointly created an international terrorist arm – known as Operation Condor. It engaged in cross border-operations to hunt dissidents down as far away as the United States and Europe: ‘Special teams of assassins from member countries were formed to travel worldwide to eliminate ‘subversive enemies.’’[54]

Great Britain is still trying to come to terms with the legacy of its own ‘dirty war’ against the Provisional IRA. In the early 1980s, elements of the security services and Special Branch colluded with loyalist death squads: The loyalist killers received intelligence on IRA suspects, who were then attacked and often brutally murdered. The majority of victims were just ordinary Catholics who had become identified as backing the Republican side in the conflict. Obviously, the strategy aimed at weakening the IRA’s core support by creating a climate of fear and insecurity.[55] In Spain, between 1983 and 1987, the Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberacion, the Anti-Terrorism Liberation Groups (GAL), targeted and killed members of the Basque separatist group ETA. Like in the case of the Red Hand, it was first thought that vigilantes had turned against the terrorists. But investigations of the judiciary, conducted between 1988 and 2000, clearly established that the nucleus of these death squads had been formed inside the Spanish state apparatus.[56] Certain elements in the repertoire of contemporary US counterterrorism operations - like the rendition of suspects and the use of ‘harsh interrogation techniques’ - highlight the fact that the United States too acted ‘sort of the dark side’, as former Vice-President Dick Cheney had announced in 2001. In her book on neo-colonial conflict, sociologist Marnia Lazreg judged the US ‘war on terror’ also to be a ‘war of terror’: ‘Just like the French officers who decided to turn the army into guerrilla bands to ‘counter’ the FLN guerrillas operating day and night, the U.S. military feels free to arrest, interrogate, and torture anyone it deems suspect anywhere in the world.’[57]

The French example is of course very different from these other contexts: The Algerian war of independence was one of the longest and bloodiest decolonization struggles of the 20th century. Because of the conventional superiority of the French army, the FLN relied on asymmetric guerrilla warfare and terrorist tactics. To defeat this threat, the French security forces adopted some of the methods of their enemy: ‘Like them they had to be utterly ruthless.’[58] It became a war fought with utmost methods and was perceived as a fundamental conflict of values, fuelled by the colonisation process. The French political and military establishment was determined not to abandon a settler population of 1.000,000 people; it did not want to cede a territory that was perceived as integral to France – especially after a long series of earlier setbacks both in Indochina and the Maghreb.[59] ‘This war, we must win it’, Prime Minister Debre had said. [60] In the light of this, the emergence of the Red Hand does not appear to be  an anomaly; rather it was a deliberate choice in the evolution of an ever more aggressive attempt to stamp out a rebellion that threatened both many French citizens and France’s prestige as a major power.

About the author: Thomas Riegler studied history and politics at the universities of Vienna and Edinburgh. His most recent books are: ‘Terrorism. Actors, Structures, Trends’ (Vienna: Studienverlag, 2009; in German) and ‘In the Crosshair: Austria and Middle Eastern Terrorism, 1973-1985’ (Vienna: University Press, 2010; in German).

[1] Roger Faligot, Pascal Krop, La Piscine. The French Secret Service, Oxford: Blackwell, 1989, p. 158.
[2] ‘Der Tod kommt mit der Post’, Der Spiegel, Nr. 12/1960, pp. 39 - 49.
[3] Richard Deacon, The French Secret Service, London: Grafton 1990, p. 185.
[4] R. Faligot & P. Krop, op. cit., p. 160
[5] Mathilde von Bülow, ‘Myth or Reality? The Red Hand and French Covert Action in Federal Germany during the Algerian War, 1956-61’, Intelligence and National Security, 22:6, 2007,  pp. 787-820.
[6] Jim House, Neil McMaster, Paris 1961. Algerians, State Terror, and Memory, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 178.
[7] M. von Bülow, op. cit, p.789.
[8] Joachim Joesten, The Red Hand. The sinister account of  the terrorist arm of the French right-wing ultras in Algeria and on the Continent, London: Abelard-Schuman, 1962, p. 19.
[9] Tunesia urged to reopen Hached case,, 27. 12. 2009
[10] R. Faligot & P.  Krop, op. cit, p. 158.
[11] M. von Bülow, pp. 789-790.
[12] M. von Bülow, op. cit., p. 801
[13] M. von Bülow, op. cit, pp. 793-794.
[14] Alistair Horne, A Savage War of Peace. Algeria 1954-1962, London: Macmillan, 1977, p. 262.
[15] ‘Der Tod kommt mit der Post‘, Der Spiegel, Nr. 10/1960, pp. 38-50.
[16] Bernt Engelmann, Meine Freunde, die Waffenhändler. Kleine Kriege, große Geschäfte, Bergisch Gladbach:G. Lübbe, 1964, pp. 27-44.
[17] The circumstances of Marcel Leopold’s death remain controversial: According to some reports, he had, in fact, been murdered by the FLN, after he had stolen from them a large sum of money (see also Joesten, op.cit., p. 147).
[18] A. Horne, op. cit., p. 263.
[19] Swiss Federal Archives, (245)/1/42 Rote Hand, Nationalistische Bewegungen 1960-1966, Notiz, 8. 6. 1961.
[20] Josef Hufelschulte, Genickschuss am Bahnhof, Focus, Nr. 5/1996,
[21] Matthias Ritzi, Erich Schmidt-Eenboom, Im Schatten des Dritten Reichs, Der BND und sein Agent Richard Christmann, Berlin: Ch. Links, 2011, p. 193.
[22] Peter F. Müller, Michael Mueller, Erich Schmidt-Eenboom, Gegen Freund und Feind:
der BND, geheime Politik und schmutzige Geschäfte. Berlin, 2002, p. 304
[23] As Joachim Joesten reports on the Red Hand’s activities in Belgium, on one occasion in 1959, an assailant left a note with the address and telephone number of a certain captain Serrano in Lille. The officer in question turned out to be a member of the French intelligence service (see Joesten, op. cit., pp. 161-165).
[24] Aoudia was shot on the doorsteps of his office – he belonged to a collective of lawyers representing Algerian nationalists. In an interview for the documentary Terror’s Advocate (2007), a former officer of the secret services declared: ‘We were told to kill them, starting with attorney Aoudia.’ When the interviewer inquires on whose orders, the agent responds: ‘Mr. Debre. The Prime Minister.’ In fact, Aouida remained the only victim among the eight lawyers (see: ‘Toi aussi’, Der Spiegel, Nr. 24/1959, p. 46).
[25] ‘Der Tod kommt mit der Post‘, Der Spiegel, Nr. 10/1960, pp. 38-50.
[26] Richard Belfield, Terminate with extreme prejudice. An expose of the assassination game, its killers and their paymasters, London: Robinson, 2005, p. xxii.
[27] J. Joesten, op. cit, pp. 156-157.
[28] Jim House and  Neil MacMasters. Paris 1961: Algerians, State Terror, and Memory. Oxford: University Press, 2006, p. 167.
[29] J. House & N. MacMasters, op. cit., pp. 172-176.
[30] M. von Bülow, op. cit., p. 803.
[31] Constantine Melnik, La Mort etait leur mission: Le Service Action pendant la guerre d’Algerie, Paris: Plon, 1996, pp. 164-165.
[32] R. Faligot & P.  Krop, op. cit, p. 166.
[33] J. Joesten, op. cit., p. 116.
[34] ‘Der Tod kommt mit der Post‘, Der Spiegel, Nr. 10/1960, pp. 38-50.
[35] R. Faligot & P.  Krop, op. cit., pp.163-164.
[36] R. Faligot & P.  Krop, op. cit., pp. 158-159.
[37] ‘Der Tod kommt mit der Post‘, Der Spiegel, Nr. 13/1960, pp. 55-62.
[38] R. Faligot & P. Krop, op. cit., pp. 159-160.
[39] According to R. Faligot & P. Krop, one Action Service officer alone could take credit for having sunk 14 yachts, freighters and coasters, destroying 2,000 tons of arms intended for the FLN (see p. 166).
[40]  M. von Bülow, op. cit., 809.
[41] Douglas Porch, The French Secret Services. From the Dreyfus Affair to the Gulf War, New York: Farrar,Straus & Giroux, 1995, pp. 370-372.
[42] Joesten, op. cit., pp. 193-194.
[43] J. House & N. McMasters, op. cit., pp. 176-177.
[44] Paul Henissart, Wolves in the City. The Death of French Algeria, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1970, p. 174.
[45] Alexander Harrison, Challenging De Gaulle. The O.A.S. and the Counterrevolution in Algeria1954-1962, St. Petersburg: Hailer Publishing, 2005, p. 93.
[46] R. Faligot & P. Krop, op. cit., p. 171
[47] J. House & N. McMasters, op. cit., pp. 29-30.
[48] J. House &  N. McMasters, op. cit., p. 26
[49] Roger Trinquier, Modern Warfare,,
[50] Andrew Silke, ‘Fire of Iolaus’, in: Tore Bjorgo (Ed.), Root Causes of Terrorism: Myths, Reality and Ways forward, London 2005, p. 254.
[51] Before Hors-la-loi, the story of the Red Hand had been adapted for screen mainly in the 1960s: Kurt Meisels Die rote Hand (1960) re-imagines the organisation as an international gangster outfit. Jean Luc Godard’s Le petit soldat (1960) depicts French agents targeting a journalist in Geneva because of his pro-Algerian leanings. One of them is abducted by FLN activists and subjected to torture.
[52] Outside The Law, Optimum Home Entertainment, 2011.
[53] Marie-Monique Robin, ‚Counterinsurgency and Torture,‘ in: Kenneth Roth (Ed.), Torture. Does it make us safer? Is it Ever OK? A Human Rights Perspective, New York and London: The New Press, 2005, pp. 44-54.
[54] J. Patrice McSherry, Predatory States. Operation Condor and Covert Warfare in Latin America, Lanham:Rowman & Littlefield, 2005, p. 5.
[55] M Ingram, G Harkin, Stakeknife. Britain’s Secret Armies in Ireland, Dublin: O'Brien Press, 2004, pp. 209-210.
[56] Paddy Woodworth, Dirty War. Clean Hands. ETA, The GAL and Spanish Democracy, Cork: Cork University Press 2001.
[57] Marnia Lazreg, Torture and the Twilight of Empire. From Algiers to Baghdad, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008, p. 269.
[58] Martin Evans, Algeria. France’ undeclared War, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, p. 408.
[59] Evans, op. cit., pp. xi-xvi.
[60] Von Bülow, op. cit., p. 810.

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Perspectives on Terrorism is  a journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative and the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies

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