Sunday, May 26, 2013

26-May-13: Terror alert level in France today: "Red, reinforced", one step down from scarlet

AP Image: Police officers stand near the cordoned-off spot
where a French soldier was stabbed in the throat
in the busy commercial district of La Defense
From Reuters
A French soldier patrolling a business neighborhood west of Paris was stabbed in the neck and injured on Saturday by a man who fled the scene and is being sought by police... The 23-year-old was patrolling in uniform with two other soldiers as part of France's Vigipirate anti-terror surveillance plan when he was approached from behind around 6 p.m. and attacked with a knife or a box-cutter. A police union spokesman said surveillance footage of the attacker showed him as tall and bearded, aged about 35, possibly of North African origin and wearing a white Arab-style tunic.
The business neighbourhood mentioned here is La Defense, and according to the BBC
The attacker did not say a word and fled into a crowded shopping area before the two other soldiers who were present were able to react. The soldiers are normally armed with automatic rifles. [BBC]
To no reasonable observer's surprise, the BBC's report does not mention the words Arab, Islam, Moslem, Muslim, terror or terrorist in connection with the attempted murder in Paris. Concerning the attacker, France's president "did not provide any details about his identity or any possible motivation for the attack". But rest assured:
"We are exploring all options," Hollande told journalists.
Reuters speculates:
Three days after a British soldier was killed in a London street by two men who said they acted to avenge violence against Muslims, the attack near Paris raised questions about a possible copycat attempt to kill a French soldier. Interior Minister Manuel Valls noted the similarity in an interview on France 2 TV saying the attacker was clearly trying to murder his victim, but he added that it was too early to offer any theories... A source said police would broadcast the man's likeness if no arrest was made soon... [Interior Minister Manuel Valls] said France would retain its current terror alert level at "red, reinforced", one step down from "scarlet", which is only activated in case of a serious and confirmed attack.
The Vigipirate Plan is
France's national security alert system. Created in 1978 by President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, it has since been updated three times: in 1995 (following a terror bombing campaign), 2000, and 2004. The system defines four levels of threats represented by five colors: white, yellow, orange, red, scarlet. The levels call for specific security measures, including increased police or police/military mixed patrols in subways, train stations and other vulnerable locations.
We don't know what "red, reinforced" means but when the alert level is red, they they say they do this:
Take measures against a proven risk of one or more terrorist actions, including measures to protect public institutions and putting in place appropriate means for rescue and response, authorizing a significant level of disruption to social and economic activity.
From the Reuters report, we know (a) the police have a picture of the attacker ("possibly of North African origin and wearing a white Arab-style tunic") and (b) they have escalated their security alert status to the second-highest level. And yet, unbelievably, they will only
broadcast the man's likeness if no arrest was made soon [Reuters]
There are no reports that he has been arrested at this hour. Is concealing the image of the slasher somehow in the interests of the French citizenry? How?

No comments: