The bullet-ridden body of a former French intelligence officer was found in his car beside the road in the Alps. Daniel Forestier, who stood accused of plotting to assassinate an opposition politician from Congo-Brazzaville, was found covered in blood in Haute-Savoie, near Lake Léman. Officials from the police stated to the Guardian that the victim was killed “execution style,” the postmortem revealing he’d been shot five times in the heart and head.
Forestier had written multiple spy novels after serving 14 years in the General Directorate for External Security (Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure, or DGSE). Reportedly, Forestier worked in the Action Division, a clandestine unit tasked with paramilitary operations and nuclear security. The unit is also closely related to the French Special Operations Command (Commandement des Opérations Spéciales, or COS).
The murder of the former spy came six months after French authorities started an investigation into his alleged role to assassinate General Ferdinand Mbaou, a senior opposition figure and fierce critic of the president of Congo-Brazzaville, Denis Sassou-Nguesso.
Philippe Toccanier, the public prosecutor, told the Guardian that “the killing was probably a settling of scores,” adding. “There’s almost no doubt about it.”
Like something straight out of a John le Carré novel, Forestier and a former colleague from the DGSE were placed under investigation for allegedly concocting a plan to assassinate Gen. Mbaou. Both men were indicted in October for “participating in a criminal organization” and “holding explosives.”
French news agency Le Monde reported that Forestier admitted being part of a team that conspired to assassinate Mbou, who lived in Paris, but explained to investigators he aborted the plan after doing reconnaissance and realizing it was impossible. However, he would later deny being part of any criminal behavior whatsoever.
Gen. Mbaou led the presidential guard under Sassou-Nguesso’s predecessor, Pascal Lissouba, but fled the country after a coup d’état in 1997. He is known to be a firebrand critic of the current government. Mbaou is no stranger to assassinations; an earlier attempt on his life has left him with a bullet still lodged near his heart. In an interview last year with Paris Match, he explained that he only learned of the scheme to kill him from French newspapers.
“I know why they want to kill me. I was warned and also I received threats in text messages. I tried to warn the [security] services but they didn’t do anything,” Mbaou said.