Paris sui­cide vests mark change of tac­tics and new threat

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

PARIS: The sui­cide vests used by Fri­day’s at­tack­ers in Paris-a first in France-were made by a highly skilled pro­fes­sional who could still be at large in Europe, in­tel­li­gence and se­cu­rity ex­perts say.

All seven of the mil­i­tants wore iden­ti­cal ex­plo­sive vests and did not hes­i­tate to blow them­selves up-a wor­ry­ing change of tac­tic for ji­hadists tar­get­ing France. Un­like the at­tacks in Lon­don in 2005 where the bombers’ ex­plo­sives were stored in back­packs, Fri­day’s at­tack­ers used the sort of sui­cide vests nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with bomb­ings in the Mid­dle East.

“Sui­cide vests re­quire a mu­ni­tions spe­cial­ist. To make a re­li­able and ef­fec­tive ex­plo­sive is not some­thing any­one can do,” a for­mer French in­tel­li­gence chief told AFP, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity. “A mu­ni­tions spe­cial­ist is some­one who is used to han­dling ex­plo­sives, who knows how to make them, to ar­range them in a way that the belt or vest is not so un­wieldy that the per­son can’t move,” he added. “And it must also not blow up by accident.”

French au­thor­i­ties say the vests ap­peared to have been made with TATP, or ace­tone per­ox­yde, that is easy for am­a­teurs to make at home but is highly un­sta­ble. The vests also in­cluded a bat­tery, a det­o­na­tion but­ton and shrap­nel to max­i­mize in­juries. “They didn’t bring th­ese vests from Syria: the more you shake th­ese things, the more you mul­ti­ply the risks,” said the for­mer in­tel­li­gence chief.

“It’s very likely he is here, in France or Europe, one or sev­eral guys who have come back from ji­hadist ar­eas and who learned over there.”

‘Not can­non fod­der’

Three spe­cial­ists con­tacted by AFP said it was prob­a­ble the vests were made by some­one out­side the group that car­ried out the at­tacks. “The ex­plo­sive spe­cial­ist is too pre­cious. He never par­tic­i­pates in at­tacks,” said Alain Chouet, a for­mer di­rec­tor at France’s DGSE ex­ter­nal in­tel­li­gence agency.

“So he’s around, some­where.”“The bomb­maker is not can­non fod­der,” added Pierre Mar­tinet, an­other for­mer DGSE of­fi­cial who now works in cor­po­rate se­cu­rity.

“He’s there to make more sui­cide vests and al­low other guys to carry out ac­tions.”

Making a vest is ex­tremely com­pli­cated. “It can’t be done in a couple of days,” said the for­mer in­tel­li­gence chief. “It takes weeks of train­ing, and you have to work un­der the watch of a ‘mas­ter’. It’s metic­u­lous work.”

On the eve of the UN global cli­mate con­fer­ence in the north­ern sub­urbs of Paris later this month, fol­lowed by New Year’s cel­e­bra­tions and next year’s Euro 2016 foot­ball cham­pi­onships, con­cerns are high. “It’s ex­tremely wor­ry­ing,” said the re­tired in­tel­li­gence chief who asked not to be named.

“Ev­ery ser­vice is on ten­ter­hooks.”— AFP

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