Operation Blue Bird

Operation Blue Bird was a mission carried out by France's foreign intelligence service, the SDECE, in 1956 during the second year of the Algerian War of independence. Its objective was to "turn" several hundred Kabyle people against the Algerian resistance National Liberation Front (FLN), with the hopes of creating a clandestine counter-resistance force. These Kabyle fighters would be known as 'Force K'.[1]

Operation Blue Bird
Part of Algerian War
DateApril 1956 - 1 October 1956
Location
Result

Algerian Victory

  • Failure of French troops
Belligerents
Algeria ALN France France
Commanders and leaders
Algeria Krim Belkacem
Algeria Saïd Mohammedi
Algeria Zaidat Ahmed
Algeria Mehlal Said
Algeria Omar Toumi
France Robert Lacoste
France General Lorillot
France Captain Hentic
Strength
unknown unknown
Casualties and losses
unknown, generally assessed to few wounded about 18 killed

The operation backfired badly and ended up supplying the FLN with money, weapons, and new soldiers. For a long time it was kept secret, and it is still largely unknown in France and Algeria to this day. Yves Courrière claims to have been the first to make information about it available to the public.[2]

History of the operationEdit

OrganisationEdit

The idea of setting up a "counter-resistance" in Kabylie came from Henri-Paul Eydoux [fr], a technical adviser to the cabinet of Governor-General Jacques Soustelle. He instructed Gaston Pontal, director of the Direction de la surveillance du territoire (DST) and the Algerian police, to set up the operation.[3] When the Service Action of the SDECE was first suggested to take charge of the "counter-resistance" in coastal Kabylie, the proposal was initially rejected.

Soustelle obtained an agreement for the launch of a counter-resistance operation from General Lorillot, commander of the Tenth Military Region and his 2nd Bureau. Captain Benedetti of the Operational Intelligence Service (ORS) was the correspondent. It was decided in the course of its planning in 1955, that the operation would be called "Force K" (K for Kabylie). It was later called "Blue Bird" and was continued by Governor Lacoste, who succeeded Soustelle. Captain Camous was asked to supervise the practical details of the operation. Camous, wary from his experience with special missions, let the police manage the undercover agents, the real key to the system.

The inspector of the DST Ousmeur, himself of Kabyle origin, on the order of his chain of command came into contact with Tahar Hachiche, one of his "obligés" of Azazga. Hachiche easily accepts the idea of helping to constitute an anti-FLN resistance in this region where the supporters of the Algerian National Movement are numerous. It opens with these proposals to Ahmed Zaidat, innkeeper-grocer, well introduced to the population. Apparently interested, the latter is careful not to reveal that he occupies functions in the FLN structure, merely to request a brief period of reflection. In fact, he reports to his friend, garage mechanic Mohamed Yazouren, friend of Said Mohammedi, who encouraged Krim Belkacem reluctant at first. They entrusted him with the organization and responsibility of the maneuver. On the ground, especially in Iflissen, Omar Toumi will take charge of the recruitment, and Mehlal Said is in charge of the recruitment in Azazga region (a stela is erected in Azazga in honor of Mehlal Said and Zaidet Ahmed for their contribution in Operation Blue Bird). Toumi has all the confidence of Captain Maublanc who commands the Compagnie du 15e BCA, responsible for the sector. The agreement of Zaïdi obtained, Hachiche claims the arms and the promised funds. Algiers immediately executed, the van that delivered the newspaper L'Echo d'Alger brought the first weapons (muskets, Garand, Sten, shotguns), the corresponding ammunition and 2 million francs. Thus, 200 weapons of war are delivered in January 1956, 80 in February–March. The funds allocated by the Governor General amount to 9 million per month.[4]

External linksEdit

BibliographyEdit

  • Jean Servier, Adieu djebels, Paris, Éditions France Empire, 1958. Témoignage où l'affaire est évoquée, Hentic et Camous étant baptisés « béret rouge » et « béret bleu »
  • Camille Lacoste-Dujardin, Opération oiseau bleu. Des Kabyles, des ethnologues et la guerre d'Algérie., La Découverte, 1997, (ISBN 9782707126665). Dans un compte rendu dans la revue des Annales, le spécialiste de l'histoire coloniale Jacques Frémeaux déplore que le livre de Camille Lacoste-Dujardin ne présente que « très peu de documents » sur l'opération Oiseau bleu proprement dite
  • André-Roger Voisin, INTOX et coups fourrés pendant la guerre d'Algérie, Ed. Cheminements, 2008, (ISBN 978-2-84478-662-3)
  • Maurice Faivre, Le renseignement dans la guerre d'Algérie, collection Renseignement, histoire & géopolitique, Édition Lavauzelle, 2006 (ISBN 2-7025-1314-X)
  • Mohamed Salah Essedik, Opération Oiseau bleu, Ed. Dar El Oumma, 2002, (ISBN 9961-67-141-4)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Si cette opération est connue sous le nom d'« Oiseau bleu » répandu par les historiens qui utilisent une compilation répétée de sources don't l'imaginaire n'est pas toujours absent, aucun des initiateurs ou des participants ne le confirme. Pour eux, il s'agit de « Opération K », comme Kabylie. Trésor du Patrimoine, no 4, sept-oct 2002, Éditions Historiques, p 6
  2. ^ Yves Courrière (1970). Guerre d'Algérie: Les fils de la Toussaint. I. Fayard.
  3. ^ Le montage de l'affaire K, dite Oiseau Bleu [archive], Maurice Faivre, etudescoloniales, 27 décembre 2010
  4. ^ Trésor du Patrimoine, no 4, sept-oct 2002, Éditions Historiques, pp : 7