Ellis, Ralph, et al. “Two Members of the U.S. Military Stop Islamist Attacker on Train In Belgium.” CNN News 22 Aug. 2015: http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/21/europe/france-train-shooting/
In this news article terrorism and the heroic actions of three Americans are spotlighted as they effectively disrupted and restrained an individual who tried to inflict mass harm to railway passengers. Equipped with a boxcutter and “possibly” an AK 47, the suspect boarded a Thalys train headed to Paris from Amsterdam on August 21st, 2015. The three individuals to subdued the suspect were all American citizens: an inactive member of the National Guard, a member of the Air Force, and a normal citizen. Once one had spotted the suspect and deduced his motives, the three sprang into action to contain the threat, only resulting in three injuries. The suspected gunman was known to European counterterrorism agencies for his “radical jihadist views.” French officials confirmed that the suspected gunman carried enough ammunition to cause mass casualties. After the failed attack, many French politicians and figureheads voiced their condemnations of the event and the individual. The article, published only a day after the attack, reported that the investigation was in its early stages and therefore had not been labeled as an act of terrorism; however, a European counterterrorism official indicated remarked that it was suspected to be labeled as such.
This source is a perfect mix of legitimate safety and security concerns around trains and media coverage, central topics brought up in my paper. Rightfully so, mass media coverage of this event spread idolizing the citizens who prevented the attack, but causing even more scrutiny of the safety of passenger railway transport. With the amount of coverage the terror attack received, highlighting the vulnerability of the train it would be easy to conclude that terrorism on trains is a common occurrence. However, the Thalys 2015 attack is the second most recent French train terror attack with the last one, the Paris Metro Bombing, occurring December 4th, 1996. The almost 19-year gap between terror-related train incidents indicates that train stations are not frequently used as modes of terror attacks compared to mass casualties inflicted by cars or shootings, which media coverage fails to mention this aspect. In conclusion, railway terror attacks are a concern for the public, but sensationalized media coverage of such a volatile topic portrays it as a much more pressing matter illuminating data proves. Questions that arise out of this text are: What is the security process that passengers have to go through to board the trains? Due to this incident are there going to be more security checkpoints to ride the railways? And if so, would these affect the usage of the railways?