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  • The Failed French Terror Attack Reveals A Few Uncomfortable Truths For Europe (And The US)

    The thwarted attack on a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris reveals a massive terror vulnerability in ground mass transit that Europe must mitigate with immediacy (and the U.S. not far behind), according to a brief on the attack from The Soufan Group, a security analysis firm.

    “That [the suspected terrorist] was able to board a train crossing the open borders of the EU with an AK-47 assault rifle, nine loaded magazines, a pistol, and a razor box cutter highlights serious issues the EU will need to address,” the brief states.

    The suspect, Ayoub El-Khazzani, is a Moroccan native whose lawyer claims he planned to rob passengers, not carry out a lone wolf terror attack. But several intelligence and security services knew him before the attack as a possible violent extremist. (RELATED: FBI Now Refers Some Potential Terror Suspects To Counseling)

    The report refers to El-Khazzani’s kind as a “known wolf,” and notes that European authorities have tagged way too many to ever follow.

    “There is no way to effectively monitor even a fraction of the people on these terror watch lists, forcing authorities to prioritize threats with imperfect knowledge — the key challenge of preventative intelligence work,” the brief says.

    Three unarmed Americans and a Brit tackled Khazzani and prevented him from killing any passengers on the train. Their success was due in part to a malfunction of the gunman’s AK-47 he apparently didn’t know how to fix — the sort of mistake, the brief notes, is more likely in lone wolf attacks and gives bystanders a chance of fighting back.

    “A bystander is not going to stop a car bomb from exploding,” the brief says. “But with these recent lone wolf attacks, there is a very small window of opportunity in which to prevent greater tragedies.”

    “Closing in on an attacker who is readying himself to shoot is not an easy thing to contemplate, let alone initiate, yet it is the only way to stop the massacre in its tracks,” it adds. (RELATED: France Train Hero ‘Rather Be Active Than Simply Sit In The Corner And Be Shot’)

    Europe is especially vulnerable to non-aviation mass transit attacks, because its systems are massively popular and because there are thousands of suspected radicalized individuals within its borders.

    The threat of more attacks needs to be dealt with, since it “will only increase,” the brief says, but that could prove costly financially and socially. “The financial costs of installing X-ray machines, metal detectors, and the personnel needed to operate them, will be immense—as will the cultural and societal costs needed to adjust to restrictions forced on free people.”

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