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IMMINENT WARNING: STABBING ATTACK IN GARE DU NORD TRAIN STATION, PARIS

January 11, 2023

Elvire Vérant, Amy McGee, Isaiah Johnson, Andreea Troneci, Julia Tsarnas

Salomon Montaguth, Editor; Shachi Gokhale, Senior Editor


Paris Gare du Nord[1]


Event: In the early morning of Wednesday, January 11, an attacker stabbed six people with a homemade weapon in the Paris train station Gare du Nord.[2] Among the six victims, five people, including a border officer, are lightly injured. The first victim faced serious injuries, but their condition is not critical. Off-duty officers shot the attacker three times and quickly prevented him from causing any further harm. The suspect’s motive is unknown and is in the hospital with life-threatening injuries.[3] Local police forces have taken over the investigation; however, they have not identified a specific motive yet.[4] The suspect is believed to be a male from Libya or Algeria.[5]


Significance: Although the motive is unclear, it is unlikely these attacks were directly related to a terrorist organization. However, there is a roughly even chance the perpetrator read extremist groups’ rhetoric on the internet that radicalized him. French police will likely increase the number of security personnel deployed in major train stations in the coming days as a measure to prevent other attacks and increase safety. The attacker likely targeted a major train station as stations lack security screening processes, allowing individuals to enter with weapons. Travelers will likely reduce their trips passing through Parisian train stations in the short term. Information about the suspect possibly belonging to Libya or Algeria will very likely increase anti-immigration discourse in France, and far-right political figures like Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour will very likely use this attack to justify discriminatory policies.


Recommendations

  • CTG recommends that law enforcement analyze security footage from the attack to identify security vulnerabilities. We also recommend law enforcement officers continue their emergency response training as their rapid intervention mitigated further casualties. It is also recommended that the National Society of French Railroads (SNCF), in cooperation with local law enforcement, implements a safety-warning system that sends text alerts to local cell phones in case of a threat.

  • CTG recommends law enforcement evaluate the perpetrator’s social media presence and conduct interviews to discover a motive, as the perpetrator likely cannot be questioned since they have life-threatening injuries. It is also recommended that law enforcement profilers learn about the victims to identify if the suspect targeted specific marginalized groups.

  • CTG recommends that local French authorities increase the number of armed security personnel deployed in transit stations. We recommend increased surveillance during rush hours to deter future attacks and increase a sense of safety for civilians.

  • CTG recommends regular passengers of Paris train stations stay vigilant for threats and report anything out of the ordinary to security personnel. If passengers encounter an active threat, we recommend fleeing the area and helping the injured rather than engaging with the suspect.

  • CTG recommends that local French law enforcement regularly update the public with press releases to offer additional information and assuage public concerns. It is recommended that passengers avoid high-traffic areas, stay alert and report any suspicious behavior.

  • If there is any additional and or critical information, please contact us at The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) by Telephone 202-643-2848 or email info@counterterrorismgroup.com

 

[1]Paris Gare du Nord Station” by Ed Webster licensed under (CC BY 2.0)

[2] 6 stabbed in Paris train station, attacker shot by police, AP, January 2023, https://apnews.com/article/paris-4a172fab1813e73d926cc692560c62a1

[3] Paris : ce que l'on sait de l'attaque à l'arme blanche qui a fait six blessés à la gare du Nord, France Info, January 2023, https://www.francetvinfo.fr/faits-divers/paris-ce-que-l-on-sait-de-l-attaque-a-l-arme-blanche-qui-a-fait-six-blesses-a-la-gare-du-nord_5596160.html (Translated by Elvire Vérant)

[4] Gare du Nord: Six people injured in stabbing attack, BBC, January 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-64234281

[5] Paris : ce que l'on sait de l'attaque à l'arme blanche qui a fait six blessés à la gare du Nord, France Info, January 2023, https://www.francetvinfo.fr/faits-divers/paris-ce-que-l-on-sait-de-l-attaque-a-l-arme-blanche-qui-a-fait-six-blesses-a-la-gare-du-nord_5596160.html (Translated by Elvire Vérant)

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