The sentinels of Paris has no idea that a terrorist lay in wait ready to spring his ambush. Clearly he had done his homework, casing the target and noting their movements. Now he waited for the perscribed time when the unsuspecting soldiers would depart the barracks to begin their patrol to keep Paris safe.
Yesterday, on August 9, 2017, a group of six French soldiers departing their barracks at Place de Verdun in the suburb of Levallois-Perret in Paris were ambushed. A terrorist launched his weapon accelerating the BMW he was driving and rammed into the unsuspected soldiers. The soldiers were from the 35th Infantry Regiment who were part of Operation Sentinel, set up to protect critical sites around Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in 2015.
After striking and injuring the soldiers, Hamou Benlatreche, an Algerian national sought to escape capture. But he didn’t go to ground or hideout in a safehouse. Where might he be seeking refugge? Where was he heading? It is too soon to know for certain but it appears he was attempting to flee not only Paris but France. A police trainee in his vehicle saw a black BMW with extensive damage to the windshield, hood and front end speeding north on the A15 highway. The police trainee took down the license plate and mentioned it when he went into the police station. Soon the damaged vehicle was spotted on the A16 highway heading north. French police were able to stop the vehicle and ended up shooting Hamou Benlatreche five times before he was captured.
One can only surmise that Benlatreche was attempting to reach Calais where he could have boarded a ferry to Dover. The 21 mile journey across the English Channel would put him out of France. This seems to be the only reason one would take have taken the A16 highway heading north.
While many of the more recent attacks in Paris have targeted soldiers and police officers they have been guarding critical and tourist sites. We have seen terrorists attack locations like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, and even on the Champs Elysees. By attacking soldiers, police and tourist sites this impacts tourism which has a cascading impact on the French economy. In 2016, 1.5 million less tourists visited Paris than in 2015 taking a huge bite out of the economy.
On August 5, 2017, a 19 year old French citizen who was recently released from a psychiatric hospital brandished a knife at police officers while trying to enter the secure zone of the Eiffel Tower. Tha man was inspired by the Islamic State and shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great).
On June 6, 2017, Ikken Farid attacked a Paris police officer with a hammer in the square of Notre Dame Cathedral. Another police officer shot Farid who was transported to a hospital. During the attack Farid shouted, “This is for Syria.” The gothic cathedral on the River Seine attracts over 13 million visitors each year.
On April 21, 2017, Abu Yuffel al-Belgiki opened fire on police officers in their vehicle on the Champs Elysees Aveune. Abu Yuffel killed Officer Xavier Jugele and injured two other police officers. The terrorist got out of his vehicle on the Champs Elysees and opened fire on police with an automatic weapon. Abu Yuffel then attempted to flee on foot but was killed. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. Officer Jugele had been one of the first responders at the Bataclan terrorist attack in November 2015.
Terrorist have been relentless in attacking targets in France. On July 14, 2016, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a Tunisian, rented a truck which he drove into the crowds on the Promenades des Anglais in Nice as people celebrated Bastille Day. Lahouaiej-Bouhlel plowed into people after a firework show and killed 86 and injuring over 300 people.
In the Islamic State’s 3rd issue of Rumiyah, there is an article entitled “Just Terror Tactics” that gives advice for individuals in selecting the “ideal vehicle” to use in a terrorist ramming attack. The article mentioned this tactic was “superbly demonstrated in the attack launched by the brother Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel who, while traveling at the speed of approximately 90 kilometers per hour, plowed his 19-ton load-bearing truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France. . . .”
On January 7, 2016, a man wearing fake explosives attacked police officers at a Paris Police Station with a meat cleaver shouting “Allahu Akbar.” Police officers killed the suspect.
While we think often of just the terrorists who have conducted these attacks in France, there are those who have inspired, directed, manipulated, motivated, financed provided aid, assistance and logitcal support. Without these others these attacks would not be able to be executed. Hamou Benlatreche may have run over six French soldiers in Paris but others have played a role in this attack and governments must work to remove not only the support network, the inspirational network, and the ideological network that all play a role in these types of attacks. If we don’t then we will continue to have individuals carrying out attacks in the city of lights.