EU Countries Agree to Bolster Train Security After Foiled French Terror Attack

A number of European countries have agreed to boost security on trains and at railway stations within the bloc on Saturday following the foiled terror attack on a train in France on August 21, the French and German interior ministers have confirmed.

At a meeting in Paris on Saturday, representatives from Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK decided that identity and bag checks would be increased.

“Mixed patrols, made up of law enforcement personnel from several countries, already exist in many countries. We will further reinforce these teams and deploy them more extensively,” French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.

He added that the checks would take place “where it is necessary,” without elaborating on the circumstances in which passengers would be checked. German interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere said that the ministers did not want to completely overhaul security procedures for train passengers in Europe.

“We can’t do and don’t want complete, comprehensive checks on people or luggage in trains in Germany or Europe,” he said.

European officials are hesitant to implement security measures similar to that of air travel because of fears that such restrictions would damage the EU’s open-border policy within the bloc. “It is essential that, as far as possible, public transport remains open and easily accessible. Security must be proportionate to the threat,” said EU transport commissioner Violeta Bulc in a press release seen by EU Observer.

Ayoub El-Khazzani, a 25-year-old Moroccan man, was prevented from attacking those on board a train which was travelling from Amsterdam to Paris after being overpowered by three American passengers and a British national. Khazzani, of Moroccan descent, had 270 bullets, an assault rifle and a bottle of petrol in his possession, according to French prosecutor Francois Molins. He added that the attacker had watched a jihadist video before he attempted to launch his attack.

“Ayoub El-Khazzani had watched YouTube audio files whilst already on the Thalys train in which an individual called on the faithful to fight and take up arms in the name of the Prophet [Muhammad],” Molins told a news conference.

The attacker had bought his ticket with cash and did not have to show any identification before boarding the train with the weapon. He has been formally charged with terrorism offenses and is now being held in French custody.