Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

French Army Spies Learn Arabic in a Center in Strasbourg | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55378429

Joint Military Intelligence Training Center (JMITC). AFP

Strasbourg, London- In a center to rehabilitate the “spies” in Strasbourg, 20 students, dressed in military uniform and sitting behind computers, speak their first Arabic words, hoping to master this language within 24 months before they head to the work field.

They will be sent somewhere in the Coast or the Middle East, according to French military operations, to intercept the intelligence. They must decrypt encoded messages during phone calls, help locate targets, thwart ambushes and warn of attacks.

Meanwhile, Pierre, Antoine and Catherine are trained along with their colleagues at the Joint Military Intelligence Training Center (JMITC) in Strasbourg.

“What the fighter needs is to learn at a rapid pace a new working language, Arabic or Russian within 24 months, and Chinese in 36 months, while others are training to monitor social networks,” said Catherine, 22, with enthusiasm.

“What attracts me is to learn rare languages very quickly and to know that we will hold many responsibilities later, and this is a key role in the intelligence network,” she added.

With training for six hours on daily basis, without counting the personal work in the evening or at the end of the week, these students discover grammar rules and various dialects and then go to learn the language in Estonia, Egypt or Tajikistan.

“So far, we learn through hearing, by listening using devices through repeating the recited words,” their coach said.

“Trainees are only provided with voice and the translation into French; whereas we learn the rules of writing later,” the coach added.

In this mysterious world, family names, personal relationships and training are not revealed to the few visitors who are allowed into the 19th century “Stirn” building.

“In the 1990s, the school trained linguist teams in Serbian- Croatian and Albanian,” said Head of Training and Second Officer at the Center Lt. Col. Gill as quoted by AFP in a report on Sunday.

In the new geopolitical scene, Arabic language is at the forefront, and the Russian language is not losing its importance. The Cold War has ended, but since 2014 the Russians have been making a strong return to the Mediterranean and knocking the doors of the European Union.

Extremist networks are recruiting a large number of Russian speakers from the Caucasus or Central Asia.
This is the actual military school, which plays a leading role in the fight against terrorism and trains an increasing number of “spies” for “future wars.”

“The query is to preempt until you have time to take an advanced step against the opposing forces,” says Col. Emanuel, the center’s commander.