Saturday, March 18, 2017

Man tries to steal a gun from a soldier in Orly airport in Paris, France and gets killed in the attempt

French police stand guard at the Orly airport after the incident. CBS/AP

Soldiers shot and killed a man who attempted to steal a weapon at Orly airport in Paris, France. CBS News. The attacker wrestled a female Air Force soldier to the ground and steal her weapons when her comrades shot and killed him. Nobody else was hurt in the attack but the incident grounded flights and triggered a massive emergency response. No links to terrorist organizations have been found so far but the terror police in France are handling the case. The suspect, who has not yet been named, had a long history of crime and was also suspected in an incident during a traffic stop. Police had pulled him over and he fired at them with birdshot, wounding one, and then carjacked a woman who drove him to the Orly area. 

My Comment:
Strange case in France this morning. Unlike the last incident in France where someone tried to get a rifle from a soldier they attacked, this attack seems much more spontaneous and unplanned than the attack on the Louvre. In that attack the suspect had a machete and tried to use that to obtain a better weapon. That attack failed as well, with only one solider being slightly wounded and the attacker being captured. It was clearly planned though

This attack though seems like a spur of the moment thing. If indeed the suspect was the same one in the traffic shooting and carjacking, we can build a likely scenario. My guess is that the suspect probably thought that he was being pulled over for his probable criminal activity, most likely related to terrorism. Since he had a gun he decided to shoot it out with the police. He escaped but he realized that whatever plans he had were likely blown so he decided to head to the airport and do as much damage as possible before he got killed or captured. 

There are some problems with that theory though. If the suspect in the police shooting had a shotgun, why didn't he keep it? Did he only have one shell, or did it have some kind of catastrophic failure? Maybe he left it behind in the chaos? Did he have one of those DIY "four winds" shotguns that are essentially one use only? Or perhaps the incidents aren't related at all? Other sources seem pretty clear about that not being the case so one wonders what the deal is with that. Birdshot is a poor choice in a mass shooting, though you could certainly kill someone with it, but any gun is probably better then going in unarmed against three trained and well armed soldiers. 

The soldiers did a pretty good job here. Though it's not really good that the man was able to either get his hands on the soldiers FAMAS or at least fight for it, he didn't live long enough to actually use it. And given that he probably blitzed the soldier he took it from, it's probably forgivable that it turned out this way. There is a reason why soldiers work in teams and not alone and this incident proves why it is so important to have someone watch your back. 

Indeed, I have always been impressed with the professionalism of French soldiers and their military in general. They have a bad reputation due to World War II but that reputation is mostly undeserved. They have been excellent in the mostly ignored actions they have taken in Africa against al-Qaeda and they have done a decent job responding to attacks in France itself. 

To be fair though, it's not like this attack had much of a chance of succeeding. I mentioned after the Louvre attack that even if the attackers had succeeded in taking the rifle and subduing the first solider, they would have little time to fight back before the other soldiers shot him. Fighting someone makes it even more difficult to secure a weapon and even if you win, you have an unfamiliar weapon that may not be ready to fire. I'm somewhat knowledgeable about firearms but give me a FAMAS without any instruction and it would take me a bit before I figured out how to release the safety (or if it even has one) and to charge the weapon. Having a bunch of pissed off French soldiers ready to kill me if I didn't figure it out fast enough would make it all but impossible. 

Attacking multiple semi-alert and very well armed soldiers in a high priority target like an airport well unarmed with your only plan to be stealing a weapon from one of them is about as terrible of a plan as you can get. If I was in the terrorist position, on the run and about to be caught or killed, I would have done almost anything else. You would have to be an idiot or have a death wish to even try it and this attack shows why. I, personally, am very thankful for stupid terrorists and hope that they all meet their end this way. 

I do think it is significant that this attack happened at an airport. There have been several successful terror attacks at airports recently and most of them have been targeting the terminals instead of the much more well protected planes. Had this suspect been armed and chosen an airport that wasn't regularly patrolled by highly trained soldiers it could have been much, much worse. 

Finally, I have to say that terrorism seems to have tapered off in Europe and America the last couple of months. Most of the attacks that have happened are disorganized attacks like this one. There hasn't been a more serious planned attack in quite some time. Part of that might be because the terrible losses ISIS and al-Qaeda have suffered on the battlefield, but I can't help but to think that something big might be coming soon. Given how screwed up the world is right now, that's probably a safe bet anyways... 

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