Nice Attack Shows 'Little Can Be Done Short of Creating a Police State'

© REUTERS / Max RossiFlowers are seen attached to a fence to remember the victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice in front of the French embassy in Rome.
Flowers are seen attached to a fence to remember the victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice in front of the French embassy in Rome. - Sputnik International
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French authorities search Nice attackers home and find disturbing information on the atrocity that led to the killing of 84 people.

New evidence is finally coming to light about the Nice attacker, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the driver of the truck that killed at least 84 people on Thursday. It was a planned attack and Bouhlel was busy preparing for it, according to local media in Nice.

© Photo : Youtube/JPNewsSourceMohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel
Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel  - Sputnik International
Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel

Police have inspected the attacker's phone and found several text messages that Bouhlel had apparently wrote to his accomplice ahead of the tragedy. One of the texts reads, "I have the equipment."

French President Francois Hollande speaks to journalists at the Prefectoral Palace the day after the Bastille Day truck attack, in Nice, France, July 15, 2016. - Sputnik International
French President in 'Big Trouble' After Third Terror Attack in Two Years

The attack is considered to be one of terrorism and there are links to Daesh, however that has yet to be confirmed.

With France facing its third terror attack in 18 months, questions are being raised as to whether the government is able to protect its people. The country held a minute's silence on Monday (July 18) in remembrance of the people who died on that fateful day. The crowd, however, openly booed the Prime Minister Manuel Valls as people held up signs calling for President Francois Hollande to resign. 

Dr Steve Hewitt, a senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham and an expert in security and terrorism, believes that the wider issue of alienation in France needs to be addressed, but in terms of this attack the difficulty lies in stopping lone individuals.

"In terms of the actual attack, there needs to be recognition that little can be done short of creating a police state — and France is already in a state of emergency — to stop lone individuals or small groups of individuals from carrying out such attacks. This is true in France. It is true in the United States (Orlando). It is true in the UK (Lee Rigby killing). It is true in Norway (Anders Breivik). It is true in Israel (numerous stabbing attacks carried out by individual Palestinians)," Dr Hewitt told Sputnik.

"Security is better at detecting larger plots, although even here there can be failures — such as the 2015 Paris attacks and 7 July 2005 London bombings.

"So there is no foolproof security system and there never will be because terrorism is a form of asymmetrical warfare in which anything (a lorry, a kitchen knife) can be used in an attack," Dr Hewitt added.

When Bouhlel mentioned in his text message that he "now" had the weapons, investigators believe he may have been referring to the rented truck or to a deactivated grenade and a 7.65mm caliber pistol, which he used to shoot at the police during the attack and subsequently, to end his own life with.  

​France-TV reports Bouhlel procured the weapon from two Albanians, who are among six people currently in custody in connection with the case. Investigators also revealed that he had spent two days driving around Nice in a truck he had rented two days prior to the attack, allegedly looking for the best place to carry it out.

Bouhlel had also emptied his bank account, sold his car and then proceed to rent the white refrigerated truck, weighing 19 tons and which he used to carry out the slaughter of 84 people on Bastille Day in Nice.

© REUTERS / Eric GaillardBullet imacts are seen on the heavy truck the day after it ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores celebrating the Bastille Day July 14 national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, July 15, 2016.
Bullet imacts are seen on the heavy truck the day after it ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores celebrating the Bastille Day July 14 national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, July 15, 2016. - Sputnik International
Bullet imacts are seen on the heavy truck the day after it ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores celebrating the Bastille Day July 14 national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, July 15, 2016.

​Another message the attacker sent at 22:27 local time, just before the attack, asks to "bring more weapons, bring it at 5 to C.," Nice-Matin reports, citing a source close to the investigation. The media claim police have been able to trace the person the messages had been addressed to, but do not reveal any further details.

Investigators working with Bouhlel's phone and computer equipment are still try to understand if the man was linked to radical Islamists. "Some 'interesting' names appeared among his contacts," Le Monde reported, citing sources close to the investigation

"In the short term, there is little that can be done beyond emphasizing resiliency and attempting to contain attacks, so that death tolls are kept down. The latter could be done by, for instance, trying to limit access to firearms and ammunition although obviously such an approach would not have worked in Nice and in the country such as the United States [as] there is a lack of will to curtail access to weaponry. Longer term, and this is a much more difficult task, there has to be an effort to address alienation of the type that leads people from certain communities to kill their fellow citizens," Hewitt told Sputnik.

© AFP 2022 / BORIS HORVATA sign reading "Liberty, equality, fraternity, let us unite against barbarism" is placed on July 15, 2016 at a makeshift memorial near the site in Nice where a gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people.
A sign reading Liberty, equality, fraternity, let us unite against barbarism is placed on July 15, 2016 at a makeshift memorial near the site in Nice where a gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people. - Sputnik International
A sign reading "Liberty, equality, fraternity, let us unite against barbarism" is placed on July 15, 2016 at a makeshift memorial near the site in Nice where a gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people.

"Efforts need to be made around addressing racism, economic inequality, perceived double standards in foreign policy etc. The problem is that these will not reduce the threat overnight. In the meantime, governments will talk tough, as the Hollande government has. This, in part, is to reassure the public but it doesn't address so-called root causes."

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