Friday night brought the news of attempted terror on the Thalys train, with CNNreporting:
The train was speeding through Belgium when the man emerged from the train bathroom, shirtless with a rifle — possibly an AK 47 — slung over his shoulder… The three men — a member of the Air Force, an inactive National Guard member and a civilian — responded quickly, possibly preventing a deadly attack on the high-speed Thalys train.
While any attempted terror attack always comes with some measure of surprise, the shock was lessened in this case as – for eight years now – I have warned French authorities that their high-speed rail network is an obvious terrorist target, and a poorly guarded one at that.
Specifically, the TGV network does not demand that passengers provide any identification when purchasing most tickets,does not demand that passengers are screened against lists of known terrorists, does not screen individual passengers or their baggage before boarding,allows non-ticketed persons to board the train, allows traveling persons to enter the train prior to departure and has no method by which an unaccompanied piece of baggage can be prevented from being loaded aboard a TGV train.
In this case, the man behind the attempted attack was not screened against a list of known terrorists though he was well known to French security and intelligence agencies. In addition, his baggage – including the AK-47, the magazines and ammunition, and his knife – were never screened before boarding.
Eight years ago the ease in which a terrorist could board a train was foreseeable – yet France continues to deny it is a real problem.
Cross posted from Terror on the Thalyson The Gettysburg Blog.