PORTE DE VINCENNES, FRANCE – What can security services do when several crises erupt simultaneously?
In a world where the average viewer thinks counter terrorism is as straightforward as an episode of 24, an injection of reality is required. Hint: it ain’t that simple, no matter how good Jack Bauer/Kiefer Sutherland is!
In the real world counter terrorism is complicated. Threats take time, sometimes a long while, to understand as officers work around the clock to determine whether someone saying s/he will do something violent is:
- a) capable
- b) competent
- c) serious
- d) all of the above.
Making matters worse, there are ALWAYS competing priorities and several (sometimes a lot of) cases developing simultaneously. Take the UK. In 2017 it was reported that MI5 (a.k.a. the British Security Service) has identified as many as 23,000 people who ‘crossed their radar’ with respect to terrorism. In the wake of the May 2017 Manchester attack by a jihadi in which 23 people attending an Ariana Grande concert were killed, British authorities were grappling with 500 investigations into 3,000 individuals. That’s a LOT of investigations to do at once!
Something quite analogous developed in France several years ago.
On this day in 2015
Two days after the ‘Charlie Hebdo‘ attack a friend of those two terrorists, Ahmedy Coulibali, entered a Jewish store in Porte de Vincennes and took hostages. Coulibali’s actions were directly tied to the cartoon ‘affair’: he had also pledged allegiance to Islamic State (ISIS) and had a long and violent criminal record. French security officials were also still hunting down the pair who had attacked the Charlie Hebdo office, meaning they had two developing counterterrorism operations on the go at once.
The attacks were not just against the French people or French Jews, they’re against the entire free world. This is another attempt by the dark forces of radical Islam to unleash horror and terror on the West. The entire international community must stand strong and determined in the face of this terror.Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister
In all four hostages were killed: two police officers were injured as they stormed the store and killed the terrorist. Coulibaly had just knelt for evening prayers when French elite commandos entered: I hope he was begging divine forgiveness for his heinous act of terrorism.
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