Foiled France Train Attack Highlights Europe’s Very Modern Terror Problem


Originally published in Newsweek

In the aftermath of the attempted terror attack on a train bound for Paris last Friday, analysts have raised questions over what Europe can do, if anything, to protect itself from the increasingly unpredictable nature of such threats.

On Sunday, French police confirmed the gunman to be Ayoub el-Khazani, a 25-year-old Moroccan man, who boarded a high-speed international Thalys train in Brussels armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, a Luger automatic pistol, ammunition and a box-cutter. He was only prevented from unleashing carnage after three off-duty U.S. servicemen and a Briton wrestled him to the ground and managed to subdue him. They have now been awarded the Legion d’Honneur—France’s highest honour—for their bravery.

The message ISIS is sending to its followers across Europe has also changed, according to Hannah Stuart, a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, a British think-tank. Whereas previously the group called on its followers to travel to Syria as they needed recruits for nation-building, “Now the message is, ‘If you want to fight, stay at home and commit attacks there’,” Stuart says.

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