EU to step up security after foiled train attack
Published 27/08/2015 | 02:30
European ministers are to discuss "systematic" and "co-ordinated" transport security checks across the continent following last week's "targeted and premeditated" jihadist attack on a high-speed train that was foiled by passengers.
Bernard Cazeneuve, the French interior minister, said interior and transport ministers from eight neighbouring European countries - including Britain, Germany and Belgium - would gather in the French capital on Saturday to discuss new security measures following the thwarted assault.
"We must examine whether we can implement a system that allows for more systematic checks in airports, in public transport, in a more co-ordinated way," he said.
Mr Cazeneuve said that "concrete proposals" would be discussed to improve security, despite the fact that France is already on high terrorist alert with "30,000 police, gendarmes and soldiers today deployed in most infrastructures considered at risk, notably transport infrastructure and stations".
Among the measures up for discussion could be "simultaneous and co-ordinated checks in EU countries" so that alarm bells will "ring" if an individual is on a security watch list, known in France as a "fiche S", said Mr Cazeneuve.
Some 840 "foreign fighters" who left for combat zones in areas of Syria and Iraq have "returned" to their native countries, said Mr Cazeneuve. Among these, some 140 "may have lived in France or still reside there", he added.
Ayoub El-Khazzani, the 25-year old Moroccan who launched a botched attack in a Amsterdam-Paris train last Friday, was on such a "fiche S".
After watching a jihadist video on his phone, Khazzani entered a toilet in the train, stripped off his shirt and came out armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, 270 rounds of ammunition and a Luger pistol strapped to his chest.
But he was overpowered by several French passengers, two young American off-duty servicemen, their student friend and a 62-year-old British consultant, who have since been awarded France's top honour, the Legion d'Honneur.
On Tuesday, it was revealed that one traveller who intervened to disarm the gunman is a Franco-American academic named Mark Moogalian. He is recovering in hospital.
Khazzani was questioned for four days before being taken on Tuesday, barefoot, handcuffed and with a mask over his eyes to a Paris courthouse to be placed under formal investigation for "attempted murder with terrorist intent". Prosecutors said Khazzani himself refused to wear shoes. (© Daily Telegraph, London)