Opération Satanique of 1985...French black ops agents punked by neighborhood watch
Because of some posts on another forum I recently looked up Opération Satanique on Wikipedia. I learned that in 1985 French agents came up with a terrible plan to try and sink a Greenpeace vessel with explosives, and were subsequently captured by the neighborhood watch while escaping. It was very sad and bewildering to read about.
On the other forum, I wrote the following comments about that: That was a pretty stupid plan. Of course it was impossible to predict that a small explosion would make everyone leave the vessel. And even if that particular plan had worked in that they'd been able to sink the vessel with a mine with nobody onboard, it's not like there wouldn't have been any forensic evidence of how the ship was destroyed. If the last thing people heard before the vessel went down was an explosion I actually wouldn't be surprised if a bomb squad might investigate.
Agents had boarded and examined the ship while she was open to public viewing and explosions were calculated to cripple the ship but not take people's lives. A plan was devised to achieve this using two limpet mines. A smaller first explosion would cause the ship to be evacuated allowing a second larger explosion to sink the ship without loss of life. Two limpet mines were attached to the hull and detonated 10 minutes apart at around 11:45 p.m., and the ship sank in four minutes following the second explosion.
However the crew did not react to the first explosion as the agents had expected. While the ship was initially evacuated, some of the crew returned to the ship to investigate and film the damage. A Portuguese Dutch photographer, Fernando Pereira, who had returned below decks to fetch his camera equipment, drowned in the rapid flooding that followed the second blast. The other ten crew members were safely evacuated on the order of Captain Peter Willcox, or were thrown into the water by the second explosion.
I'll bet that all the Shadowrun players on this forum would be able to come up with a better plan than that. I mean, setting up a hot dog stand with free ice cream and beer was probably a better way to make everyone leave the vessel than trying to use a small explosion.
The next part of the Wikipedia article talks about how the French agents were captured by the neighborhood watch.
French agents who were trusted to illegally blow stuff up on a secret operation in foreign countries got punked by the neighborhood watch? :(
Operation Satanique was a public relations disaster. France, being an ally of New Zealand, initially denied involvement and joined in condemnation of a terrorist act.
After the bombing, a murder inquiry was started by the New Zealand Police. Most of the agents escaped New Zealand but two, Captain Dominique Prieur and Commander Alain Mafart - posing as married couple 'Sophie and Alain Turenge' and having Swiss passports - were captured due to a Neighbourhood Watch group. Both pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on November 22, 1985.
France threatened an economic embargo of New Zealand's exports to the European Economic Community if the pair were not released. Such an action would have crippled the New Zealand economy, which was dependent on agricultural exports to Britain.
In June 1986, in a political deal with Prime Minister of New Zealand David Lange and presided over by United Nations Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, France agreed to pay NZ$13 million (USD$6.5 million) to New Zealand and apologise, in return for which Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur would be detained at the French military base on Hao atoll for three years. However, the two agents had both returned to France by May 1988, after less than two years on the atoll. Mafart returned to Paris on December 14, 1987 for medical treatment, and was apparently freed after treatment. He continued in the French army and was promoted to colonel in 1993. Prieur returned to France on May 6, 1988 because she was pregnant, her husband having been allowed to join her on the atoll. She, too, was freed and later promoted. As this was in violation of the agreement, the French were required to pay further reparations.
Then they got promoted. :(