A Disassociated Press Report, Paris, June 9, 2005
By Morris Whitely
Evidence gathered over recent weeks has U.S. intelligence officials convinced that leading figures of the Priory of Sion currently reside in France. Their existence in the European nation poses an ongoing problem to top Bush administration officials, who have warned foreign nations against providing shelter or other aid to terrorists.
The evidence includes intercepted communications by a fugitive art history professor known for his now banned 1996 book The Magdalene and the Chalice and a feminist militant who appeared in a video in which French feminist critic Helene Lowenthal denounced George W. Bush as a "petro-fascist," according to U.S. officials. All three are now believed to be in hiding in Paris.
According to officials, the CIA has also tracked Denise Plantard, Priory operative and daughter of previous Priory leader Pierre Plantard, to the French coastal town of Le Havre, although failed to apprehend her. The young Plantard was believed to be engaged in forging works of medieval art in order to dupe honest Christians and undermine America's beneficent theocratic rule of the world as well as cast doubt on American Republican presidents' rightful situation at the right hand of the Son, who sits at the right hand of the Father, who is God. Two of Plantard's associates were captured, however.
The capture was a coup for the Bush Administration, which spent weeks tracking the art forgery ring and setting up the intelligence operation that led to the two Priory operatives being taken into custody.
The officials said that interrogations of the two women, who are now being held in an undisclosed location in Egypt, have yielded confirmation of many Priory tactics, including defacement of art treasures and wanton proliferation of mysterious neo-pagan symbologies both in the form of graffiti and in the margins of returned library books.
U.S. intelligence agencies also have evidence stretching back to the late 1990s that indicates Philippe Sauniere, brother of murdered Louvre curator Jacques Sauniere, remains in hiding in the south of France. He is wanted as one of the masterminds of the 1992 defacement of the Poussin painting "Shepherds of Arcadia".
Philippe, who also goes by the alias Frere Retors ("Friar Cunning") has been charged as a fugitive by the United States, accused of conspiracy to warp doctrine. He currently has a $5 million bounty on his head.
U.S. authorities have long alleged that the 1992 Poussin defacement was carried out by the old guard of the Priory leadership, of which the Sauniere brothers were representatives.
Intelligence agencies have gathered evidence, including a specific phone number, indicating that Philippe was living in Aix-en-Provence, and claim to have uncovered other information about his recent activities.
Nicholas Banks, State Department undersecretary for political affairs, told Congress yesterday that the French government has refused to identify any Priory members it may know about on French soil.
"France continues to harbor senior Priory leaders who are wanted for defacing important works of art and plotting to spread misinformation about the Trinity and early Christian history," Banks said. "Some of these figures are also wanted for Jungian sympathies."
Banks referred the Swiss theoretician of archetypes Carl G. Jung and his followers.
Top administration officials have repeatedly warned France against harboring or assisting suspected terrorists. The French have denied that the Priory of Sion is a real organization and have thus refused to recognize that the group poses a threat to either France or the United States.
On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld warned neighboring European countries not to help suspected Priory operatives and made reference specifically to Denise Plantard.
"Were a neighboring country to take her in and provide haven for her, they, obviously, would be associating themselves with a major linkage in the Priory network," Rumsfeld said.
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