In June 2020, French forces killed a well-known al-Qaeda leader Abdelmalek Droukdelin in a joint operation with West African allies. At the same time, several of Droukdel’s allies died. The killing was announced by the French Minister of Defense Florence Parly.
Washington Postin according to Droukdel was suspected of killing hundreds of civilians in recent years. It is estimated that there are more than 2,000 al-Qaeda fighters in West Africa and hundreds loyal to the terrorist organization Isis. The killing was a major victory for the French troops in Operation Barkhane, which has also been described as an eternity operation and compared to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
According to the newsletter, Finns who have enlisted as mercenaries in the French Aliens Legion are also involved in the operation. Kari Kallosen nonfiction book Finnish soldiers in the Alien Legion (Readme) will be released today, Wednesday.
According to Kallonen, about 25 Finns currently serve in the alien legion. One of them is an Oulu resident involved in Operation Barkhane Kestiwho serves in the Legion’s forces as a medic. The work is life threatening. The duration is with the infantry in the operation, and the risk of being fired is high.
– At the beginning of the operation, the danger was considered several times, but when you get over a certain point, dangerously, it gets numb, Kesti says in the book.
Another Finn serving in the alien legion, Bags, considers the fight against jihadists in Mali sensible. Sakke sought out a legion of aliens to get on an adventure, also hard discipline and hard physical training fascinated me. He has lost several friends during Operation Barkhane.
– In any case, the work that is being done there is necessary so that Islamist terrorism cannot establish a bigger foothold in the surrounding countries, he says in the book.
Operation Barkhane, which was still under another name at the time, was launched in 2013 at the request of the Malian government. The country threatened to slip into the hands of Islamists. French troops have lost 44 troops since the start of the operation, and Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso troops hundreds. According to the French Ministry of Defense, 600 jihadists have been killed. He tells about it New York Times. Locals are afraid to report jihadists because when foreign troops leave, they would be killed themselves.
In August, military coups overthrew the country’s president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïtan power, and a retired colonel in September Bah Ndaw swore an oath as interim president. There had been anti-government protests in the country for months. The people accused the Keïta regime, among other things, of the government’s failure to eliminate jihadists, says BBC.
Recruitment agency in Paris
Kesti started at the Aliens Legion in February 2014. You can only enroll in the Aliens Legion by going to an office in France. At the time, he didn’t speak French, but eventually got there, and the bus driver didn’t charge either. Just wished good luck.
In Finland, Kesti had completed the RUK, or Reserve Officers’ School, in the Air Force and then went to the reserve as a 20-year-old lieutenant. Kesti had previously aspired to special forces and as a paratrooper, but due to lack of vision, the doors closed.
He had been at work for four years, and then told his parents about the decision to leave his alien legion.
– Of course, the mother cried first and the father became serious.
Sakke enlisted in the Legion in 2013. At the same time, for example, former professional soldiers enlisted who, according to Sake, entered unless they had committed serious crimes.
– Admittedly, a few, as it turned out later, had severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress, for example, from Canadian and Yankee army operations in Afghanistan.
At the recruitment ceremony, the corporal punched a beggar in the diaphragm with his fist, who fumbled in answer to the question.
A “thrower” for those who are afraid of parachuting
The book describes the paths of dozens of Finns in the alien legion since the 19th century. During these years, the alien legion has changed a lot. The main tasks of the Legion were originally to oversee the French colonies. Today, it operates in, among other things, UN operations.
Kallonen tells Iltalehti that the stories have been confirmed, for example, through the Legionnaires’ network, with which he is connected. He left out a lot of material that didn’t seem real.
According to the stories of the Finnish Legionnaires, the newcomers were beaten with grief, the fugitives were severely treated and there were plenty of opportunities for alcoholism. A glass of red wine was taken with the morning coffee, and sliced liquor was included in the food package.
In parachute training, cowards were treated harshly. There was a “thrower” involved in the plane, who kicked the person afraid of jumping out of the plane if necessary. This was reported by those who were enlisted in the Legion in the early 1970s Risto Kojo.
– I remember especially well a Frenchman who was jumping with me a few times. Every time a man had to be forcibly thrown from a plane. There was an ambulance waiting in the country that regularly took the man to the hospital after the jump.
According to Kojo, access to another unit was not possible if the person was placed in a particular unit. The one who was afraid of jumping also had to continue in the parachute forces.
Kojo eventually decided to run away from the legion. The reason was arbitrary beating by supervisors.
He also joined the Legion in the summer of 1975 about the harsh treatment Juhani Nokelainen in various interviews. He was punished for his escape by first throwing it on a cold night in a tube whose floor had been soaked in water.
– In the morning we were awakened by a cold water jet. After this, each guard took turns greeting us right by the hand; usually they hit first to the ground and then to the muzzle. During the batting, we had to stand in a position, making resistance just didn’t come to mind.
Nokelainen reportedly was heavily alcoholic when he joined the legion. According to Nokelainen, three comrades committed suicide in the legion: a 17-year-old Italian, he said, hung in the toilet after just a few weeks. Later, Nokelainen says that he came to faith.
In 1978, he was involved in defeating the uprising and taking the hospital back from the rebels in what was then Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
– In the hospital, we found, among other things, two badly wounded soldiers who still had a gun under the mattress. However, the war was a war and so we would grab the drops from the men and kick them in the yard. We just couldn’t tell the difference between soldiers and civilians, the majority of the rebels after throwing off their uniforms and dressed as civilians, he says of his actions.
In 1994, after basic education, left the legion Jarkko Stenius according to many of the trainers were “sadistic in nature”.
– Hit and fucks all the way back, many jätkästä has become a pushover korpeille and a sergeant, because they do not put against, advises those younger than himself worked as a trainer Mikael Merta.
Sakke, who joined in 2013, says that habits have changed, at least to some extent, in a more humane direction.
– Today, beating rookies is in principle forbidden, and most of the nonsensical cluttering moments and excesses have been eliminated. The downside, of course, is that nowadays it is harder to get poor and poorly motivated beginners to escape.
To protect individuals, Kest, Janne and Sake are not used in full in a story or book.