France mourns again after the tragic Nice terror attack
On the most important day in the French patriotic calendar, one of the most tragic attacks occurred. Yesterday was Bastille Day, the French National Day that commemorates the Storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. This was a key point in the French Revolution. Today people gather together throughout the country to celebrate this historical and significant day.
Yesterday changed the holiday permanently, and we will never see Bastille Day the same way again. Now, in addition to being a day of historical remembrance for France, it is also a day of mourning and loss.
In Nice, France, a Tunisian-born émigré with a history of petty crime was driving a truck that barreled into Bastille Day revelers and claimed at least 84 lives over a mile-long path. The truck zigzagged through the crowds and proceeded to open fire on survivors before being shot dead by the police. French President Francois Hollande said at least fifty people are in critical condition, “hanging between life and death.” Investigators are exploring potential links to Islamist militant networks.
The driver, 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, left his identity documents, cellphone, and bank card inside the 19-ton truck. Bouhlel had no previous links to extremism, but investigators are trying to figure out if Bouhlel was working alone or with a network that could be connected to plotting further violence.
This attack put France back into a state of mourning and crisis. The Nice attack was the latest in a string of mass-casualty assaults throughout the past eighteen months that officially put France on the front lines of tragedies connected to the Islamic State.
Hollande called for a state of emergency through the end of the month after terrorism fears during the European soccer championships, but after yesterday’s attack, Hollande is pushing the state of emergency for three more months.
Other countries in Europe responded to the attack by increasing their own security. Germany is tightening border checks, Italy ordered police officials to reinforce security at all “sensitive targets,” and Belgium added more counterterrorist measures before its own national holiday celebrations that will take place next week. In London, the French flag flies atop 10 Downing Street, where new Prime Minister Theresa May announced that Britain will stand “shoulder to shoulder” with France.
Sadly, our reality is that world leaders are discussing stricter security and greater intelligence coordination on a weekly basis due to the increasing number of attacks around the world. It is becoming the norm to team up and make plans against potential future attacks post-crisis.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, “The problem is you and I and other foreign ministers are doing this now on almost a weekly basis. And nowhere is there a greater hotbed or incubator for these terrorists than in Syria.”
The SITE Intelligence Group, who monitors extremist statements, stated that the Islamic State has previously called for attacks that use vehicles. The group said supporters of the Islamist organization were “celebrating the massacre” that occurred in Nice. And pro-Islamic forums had previously posted messages in which they urged followers to carry out “lone-wolf” attacks against France.
On a day that was meant for celebration and victory, instead, France witnessed a street full of bodies covered in white cloths.