Nice attack, the continuation of a tragedy – by Philip Ingram
“Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him.” The words of the ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al Adnani before Ramadan.
This is nothing new, before ISIS inspired attacks in mainland Europe grew, the extremists, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale on 13th May 2013 drove into, knocking down and severely injuring the British Soldier, Lee Rigby in London before then getting out of their vehicle and trying to behead him. They were inspired through the internet.
Initial indications suggest that 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the perpetrator of the horrific Nice attack on the evening of the countries Bastille Day celebrations, was self-radicalized. Analysis of the radicalization of individuals involved in the plethora of attacks across Europe this year by the FBI suggests it can happen as quickly as in 48 hours!
Bouhlel was someone who looked at the rhetoric coming from Adnani and from elsewhere on the internet be it in closed messaging groups in Twitter or the more popular, Telegram or in hardline forums in the Dark Web where newly radicalized individuals can get instructions and recipes for death and destruction like that he dealt out through the wheels of a 20 tonne truck through a crowded happy event.
Men, Women, Children, Muslim, non-Muslim, local French or holidaymakers, he didn’t care who he killed or maimed as he drove for a mile causing mayhem. He knew what he was doing, he had rehearsed his routes, chosen his vehicle carefully and prepared with real and fake weapons. He knew he would die.
Vasco Da Cruz Amador, CEO with the cyber intelligence company Global Intelligence Insight said, “The ISIS closed channels in the dark web and elsewhere have gone crazy after this incident. They were quick to claim responsibility and I believe we will see greater analysis of Bouhlel in their next edition of their Dabiq magazine.”
ISIS quickly claimed him as one of their own as it their way after this kind of terror and then their rhetoric of further threats against European countries, cities and people continued through what has become known as the Cyber Caliphate; in NATO military parlance, their Information Operations centre.
James Abernethy, a former British Intelligence Officer told Security News Desk, “As ISIS in Syria and Iraq get squeezed increasingly by the US led airstrikes and the Russian and Syrian attacks on the ground then they are likely to become more dangerous internationally. The Cyber Caliphate will increasingly try to radicalize more individuals, will coordinate activities of groups infiltrated into different cities as terror cells, waiting to strike when instructed. A restructuring of ISIS from a “conventional” military structure, to a cell based, internationally deployed terror organization is probably underway.”
In a recent interview with Tim Compston from Security News Desk, Rob Walker, who is part of the London-based travel security team at International SOS and Control Risks – and the functional lead for analysts around the world offering a considered take on the risks faced by those attending the Euro 2016 event, of which Nice was a venue.
Talking of the fixed euro 2016 sites Walker said, “the double perimeter security at host stadiums will make these facilities harder to target. One of the upshots of this is that alternative areas may be targeted instead, such as around stadiums – where large crowds gather.”
International SOS were looking at the risks not just from a number of clients asking about it but, crucially, within the context of the increasing likelihood of terrorism across Western Europe: “This has certainly focused people’s minds. I think one of the important things that we try to do is to put that threat into context without overstating it or minimising the challenges it poses.” Walker goes on to say: “Certainly we didn’t perceive the impact of Islamist extremism in Western Europe in the way that we do now.”
An analysis of the Nice attack can be watched in the video below:
A potential solution for public areas temporarily closed off to traffic, that may have been able to stop Bouhlel’s rampage is the use of portable anti vehicle mitigation devices. Engineering Director – Robert Ball with the British, Mersyside based ATG Access said, “The UK is probably the most advanced country in the world in having developed a full pallet of hostile vehicle mitigation solutions.
Many fixed and semi-permanent devices are installed to protect the public realm, crowded places and national infrastructure. As well as permanent solutions, there are a number of products which can be deployed on a temporary basis to provide a barrier against a hostile vehicle attack within a given zone.
Much investment has been made developing hostile vehicle mitigation technologies by both UK industry and government, and extensive testing has been carried out to verify the performance of these products. Whilst these products have been deployed successfully in many areas, there are still some locations where vulnerability and the protective benefits of tested security barriers have not been recognised.”
With regard to travel to France and Nice, the advice from International SOS is below:
- Travel to France, including Nice, can continue. However, there is a likelihood of further attacks in France. As a result, we advise all travellers to be vigilant, particularly in crowded public areas, and be ready to follow any instructions from the French authorities.
- There is likely to be a heavy security presence at the Nice Cote d’Azur International Airport (NCE) in the coming days, so allow extra time to pass through check-in and security.
- If you were planning to stay near the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, you should look for alternative accommodation, to minimise the impact of continuing disruption, for example from police follow-up work.
- If you have business appointments early next week should check with your hosts to see if the three-day mourning period will affect it; it is likely that your hosts will appreciate the gesture.
- Expect security alerts in the coming days, including false alarms caused by incidents such as inadvertently unattended baggage, or even deliberate hoaxes, which could cause short-term disruption to transport networks.
What is clear is the potential for these types of attacks to continue and the need for vigilance abounds. Everyone now should remain vigilant to the potential threat where ever they are. This Nice attack is merely the continuation of a tragedy that started with the rise of extremism.