Vicious Terror Attacks Strike France! Who's Next in Europe -- or Here?
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By Mike Larson
The headlines out of France the past 36 hours are downright horrific, as are the amateur videos posted online.
Three terrorist attackers shot their way into the offices of French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo. They gunned down 12 editors, cartoonists, and police officers in cold blood, praising Allah in the process. Then they fled as quickly as they arrived, leaving a nation in a state of shock and mourning.
One suspect has reportedly turned himself in â€“ 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad. But two other suspects, brothers Cherif Houachi, 32, and Said Kouachi, 34, remain at large. More recent reports say yet another police officer was shot and killed in a Paris suburb, raising tensions further.
Still other reports say Cherif was a known terrorist, convicted in 2008 for terrorism charges that resulted in an 18-month prison sentence. At least one witness said the attackers claimed they represented Al-Qaeda in Yemen.
The number of â€œsoft targetsâ€ around the U.S. is huge.
Naturally this is a fast-moving, fluid situation with updates pouring in hour-by-hour. But stepping back from the immediate headlines, the bigger issue is â€œWhoâ€™s next?â€
Weâ€™ve already seen a host of large-scale and small-scale terrorist attacks throughout Europe in the past several years. They include the 2004 train bombing in Spain and 2005 subway bombing in London, and the 2013 and 2014 stabbing and shooting incidents in the U.K. and Belgium.
I donâ€™t think weâ€™ve seen the last of those kinds of smaller attacks in Europe, even as I hope the larger plots will be harder to pull off. And here in the U.S., you canâ€™t help but worry about the possibility of homegrown attacks.
Guns arenâ€™t hard to come by. The number of â€œsoft targetsâ€ around the U.S. is huge. And more overseas groups like ISIS are urging their followers around the world to attack at home rather than try to travel to the Middle East.
Could something like the December hostage crisis that resulted in two civilian deaths in Sydney, Australia happen in New York? Or Los Angeles? Or in any other major city or on a U.S. military base?
You bet! Heck, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security warned soldiers just last month to watch out for domestic threats inspired or guided by ISIS members overseas.
â€œBe vigilant and be wary â€” whether traveling or at home.â€
The lesson for all of us? Be vigilant and be wary â€” whether traveling or at home. Report suspicious activity and review some of the tips available on the DHS website if you havenâ€™t already.
What else would you recommend? Any tips you can share with your fellow Americans, or foreign readers if you live abroad? Do you think weâ€™ll see more terrorist attacks in Europe â€” or here in the U.S.? Or do you have faith in our counterterrorism efforts, and our ability to stop both small-scale and large-scale attacks?
Finally, have you modified your travel arrangements â€” or are you planning to do so â€” in light of the French attack? Let me know at the Money and Markets website as soon as you can.