Or rather, Attaboys. Worthy of a Sun headline perhaps? On the lines of Gotcha. (A reference to the sinking of the ARA Belgrano by the RN in 1982.)

Readers will know I’m among the first to denounce endless unnecessary military invasions, invariably by American-led forces under the guise of humanitarian aid or mythical WMD.

But I have to say, had I been on the Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday, I would have been thanking my lucky stars for the intervention, courage and presence of mind of the three Americans who tackled the gun-toting Moroccan.

All credit to Spencer Stone, Aleksander Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler, and Briton Chris Norman for their bravery.

And rightly so, they’ve been commended by presidents and prime minsters Obama, Cameron, Hollande, and Valls, and received bravery medals from the Mayor of Arras, Leturque.

Stone was attacked with a Stanley knife by the gunman, and was taken to hospital with serious injuries to his hand.

Meanwhile, train staff were barricading themselves behind a steel door and leaving passengers and the gunman to get on with it. Because, let’s be honest, train staff aren’t usually trained to deal with gunmen. So who does deal with them?

Belgium’s prime minister, Charles Michel, announced that Franco-Belgian security patrols would be beefed up on Thalys trains, which link Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne.

This includes increased patrols and baggage checks at international stations.

Because, the Moroccan said he just happened to find a bag of weapons:

the suspect has told police officers he is not a terrorist but intended to rob the Thalys passengers at gunpoint having found the weapons “by chance in a park in Brussels”.

Yeah right.

But do security patrols and baggage checks really do it?

Back in 1984 I travelled all the way round the world with my Swiss Army Knife on my person. Apart from anything else, it had the keys to the padlocks on my rucksack on it. When I got to NZ, it was a big no, and it went in a special bag, returned to me when I got off the plane. Weird. That was one journey out of more than a dozen. No one else had any interest in it.

The last time I got on a ferry, Brittany Ferries, Plymouth to Cherbourg, they had introduced luggage scanning. As ever, appearances count. The staff apologised to me for making me wait while they checked the luggage of the long-haired man in front. I was in non-rucksack mode and looking relatively smart.

One can envision the day when planes, trains and ships have armed guards, in true sci-fi mode. Buses too. Maybe even the little buses around Gib? No conductors because they’re a thing of the past, just armed guards and a driver, well maybe a driver, maybe not. Payment will be by card/chip anyway. No evil cash.

Again back in 1984, I was horrified boarding the sleeper from Bombay (as was) to New Delhi. The first person I saw on the train was a guard, holding a rifle! A rifle? What on earth for? I made my way to the ladies-only compartment still in shock.

During the night, male family joined the Indian women in our compartment to eat the evening meal, but then left, and at curfew time, we locked the door, to dream of bandits and armed guards fighting it out as we slept soundly behind that safe, secure door.

There’s a difference however, between a deterrent to bandits trying to board a train, and a passenger with a Kalashnikov and other weapons, who is already on board.

And the cost. What’s the cost benefit analysis? What price fare increases? Still, armed guards might provide much-needed employment. Always assuming the employees aren’t trigger-happy terrorists anyway.

The future sadly, seems to be easily scripted. Tracking of all legal citizens, retina scans, and at some point there will be no need to microchip cards because we’ll be chipping people, as we already do animals. Although one can always get them taken out. Private security forces will be everywhere. Freedom of movement will be restricted.

The question is however, would this dystopian future have always happened, regardless of some religious-based form of terrorism?

News source: The Grauniad

About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
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48 Responses to Attaboy

  1. “Would this dystopian future have always happened, regardless of some religious-based form of terrorism?” – interesting question, and much as my first instinct is to say no, it clearly isn’t black and white. Religion doesn’t help. What a marvellous understatement that is. Religion has been a breeding ground for terrorism, cruelty, torture for as long as it has been recorded, so far as I am aware. No-one expects the Spanish Inquisition eh? Sadly, we do now (not specifically Spanish, just dragging that line in by its ankle as it sprang to mind). I think it would still happen yes, but it would take a little longer.

    People will be stealing eyeballs eventually.

    – sonmi.u.t.C

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting that as JZ seems to think yes. I don’t know, I was just musing from my Rock, probably partly influenced that our ID cards here are changing to be newly superly duperly computerised and no doubt traceable throughout the world. If I travelled any more.

      While Python has made the SI pretty immortal it’s partly true, I would say no one does expect it. But probably nothing surprises us any more.

      I read a good book about eyeball stealing for that purpose. Once identity theft was bits of paper, plastic or virtual online ID, but if something is really worthwhile, say goodbye to your fingers, hands and eyeballs. Some society huh?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hariod Brawn says:

    The swift action of the attaboys was most impressive I thought – military training perhaps i.e. don’t overthink the options. Yet what made it impressive for me was that the threat was incongruous to the setting, and I imagine it may well have been natural to deliberate or be confused at least for some vital seconds. Of course, attagirls would have done the same Roughseas! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would think the military training played the major part in it. Still doesn’t alter the risk factor and the fact the Americans didn’t have AK 47s. Maybe setting is a secondary factor, think NI where soldiers had to be aware 24/7 in all situations. I’m not up on mil training but given the change in warfare, involvement of civilians it would make sense that training is now based on looking for danger in all settings and situations. If so, just lucky for everyone in the carriage. Also lucky his AK jammed!

      This attagirl would have been one of those hitting the deck, I tell you.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Kev says:

    I couldn’t believe it when I saw the event on the news last night. I had to commend them, especially the older guy, (which one was he again?) His comments were rather memorable… something to the effect, I knew I was going to die and figured why not, I’d rather die being active than doing nothing.

    Now, if we all took that attitude, I think terrorism would die… Why? Because, for one, they plan to kill everyone, anyway… two, they are always way outnumbered and would be overcome in no time if all were that brave. Three, so many lives would still be saved, rather than everyone being killed. Four, terrorism would lose its effect because like with the above, the glorification of bravery would be the real news, along with the failed efforts of terrorism.

    Easier said than done, I’m sure… don’t know what I would do given similar circumstances… I may be too afraid to act and I hate being afraid, but if I convinced myself I was going to die anyway… I think at that point, knowing how I reason things out, I’d probably conclude that I have nothing left to lose… but who knows?

    Hey, could I used this for next week’s rollover? Let me know, if so I won’t need the reblog activated until next sunday. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve only read it online. The older guy (62) was the Brit who said he dived under the seat first, and at his age I can see why. But good on him to go and help when someone did do something. And that’s the whole point that you are making, it needs someone to make that first move. Maybe easier for the Americans as they were together, and as Hariod said, had the training.

      You wonder what the response would have been had they been unsuccessful. Idiots for getting involved? Should have just left it alone? Public opinion is fickle. But, it worked out. I still think you need to be fit, fast and focused. None of which apply to me 😀 A seems to think he would have been interested but I told him he’s too old! He’d be ok as back-up and he could probably still do a painful kick or nasty punch (karate training).

      Deactivated? You mean for a reblog? Yeah sure. It’s a good story I think and one that deserves praise, and if it inspires more people to get involved, in anything wrong, that’s no bad thing. Just remind me.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Kev says:

        Fitness is definitely a factor. I’m not very fit, myself these days. Back in the day… well, I guess we could all say that pretty much. 😉 I’ll add the post to my Sunday folder and give you a reminder later on. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. john zande says:

    Economics, coupled to terrible governance, makes it inevitable. It really doesn’t matter what colour the desperation is dressed in, religious or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Poverty, power, jealousy, they’re all different sides of the same coin. And religion is invariably found in those. It all seems very Rousseau right now, free men in chains and all that (saved me writing out the quote accurately!).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. disperser says:

    Oh no; you almost drew me in, but I resolutely resist.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mm mm, a gun comment methinks? 😀


    • disperser says:

      No; a discussion about frame of mind. But I could see it possibly drifting into a gun discussion and I’m too tired. Old, I be, and wisdom does not lightly sit on my shoulders, capable as they may be.


      • Frame of mind would have been interesting. Oh well, if you feel less tired one day …


      • disperser says:

        The short of it is understanding one is always responsible for one’s safety. The long of it means awareness, preparedness, having a plan in place, and knowing one’s limitations. As I read the above, the common answer is more cops. As if that works. I think the Paris attack showed the adjustment an attacker makes; take the cops out first.

        In the case of the people on that train, I would call it less training and more a mindset. Most people don’t think “stuff” can happen to them, so they have nothing besides freezing. These guys correctly assessed the situation . . . they were going to die anyway (at the time they did not know the gun was jammed). There are plenty of examples of non-military people doing the same.

        Current thinking on counteracting an attack is resisting, fighting back, and the willingness not to be a victim. Mindframe comes in when one considers what that means. It’s not throwing a punch and stopping; it’s not a half-assed defensive move; it’s not “ramping up”. It’s going into a berserker mode because you know the attacker is already there.

        That said, one’s responsibility is first and foremost for oneself. If you can get away, if you can avoid getting killed, by all means, do so and get official help. But understand that if you can’t, even if responders are called, that does not ensure your safety; responders are just like other people; their first priority is to not get themselves killed. The second priority is to safeguard others. One needs to understand that the second priority can’t be achieved without adhering to the first.

        And with that, one gets back to individuals having the responsibility for their own safety and defense. Awareness of surroundings, knowing escape routes, being prepared to use them, and failing that, knowing what one might do. For instance, phones are heavy, especially if thrown. A plastic water bottle is heavy, belts can be weapons, purses, backpacks, and briefcases hurt when someone hits you with them and can be used both as defensive and offensive weapons. You don’t “train” for that; you just have to have thought about it enough to remember it when you have to. At last resort, multiple people rushing the attacker eventually works, especially if all of them are yelling and coming from different directions. There were three people (and then more) who attacked. One got hurt. Had he been the only one, he might not have been successful.

        Plus, something else no one mentioned. The attacker came from another car . . . he had his back to how many people who did absolutely nothing? He had to walk by a bunch of people who let him not only get close to them but then let him pass unhindered.


        I’ve often maintained hijackings are going to be a lot more difficult since 911; a box-cutter is not going to deter anyone from fighting back because people have learned a very expensive lesson.

        Also, because it will come up; the AK-47. Not a close-quarters weapon. Of course, if one imbues guns with mythical killing power, the sight of one might be enough to freeze them into inaction.


        • That’s a really thoughtful comment, thanks for taking the time. I agree on the mindset. Some people have it, others don’t. I think a little confidence and skill does help though, eg my partner would be better equipped to kick the shit out of someone than I would – I’ve seen him floor a 6′ 2″ Moroccan, but it was 30 years ago 😀

          Individual sense of safety is valid too. First thing I always did in hotels was physically check out the fire escape route so I knew where it was. At least it was in my head.

          I agree, I think one attacker might not have been successful. And, in fact, the first person who confronted the gunman was a Frenchman, who saw him emerge from the toilet with his Kalashnikov, tried to disarm him and failed. But at least didn’t get shot. However, good mindset, but no assistance.

          Stanley knives (your box cutters) are evil things though. If you know where to slash or chop … and as for the AK, you’re right, it would freeze me on the spot.

          I think one of your many interesting points is, how many people did he walk past with his back unguarded?


      • disperser says:

        Some people might read my comment as me living a life of fear . . . if so, they misunderstand so much.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Did you see the man used to live in Algeciras?!? We may very well have crossed him in traffic.


    • I did. Even worse he was a painter. He may have worked in Gib like the Turk who worked in Gib, arrested in La Linea for alleged terrorism, remember that? He’d worked on the same firm as A had in Gib 😦


  7. Sonel says:

    Excellent question and very interesting read. The sci-fi mode future sounds ominous. Maybe I’ve watched to many sci-fi movies and I am not sure I would like to be ‘chipped’ or have my eyeballs scanned. It would be nice if there was a smart computer out there like the one in ‘Person of Interest’ that would catch the criminals the minute they even think of committing a crime. Unfortunately in the series, there were the power hungry ones that messed everything up, and unfortunately those types are not only in the movies.


    • They are already doing retina scanning now 🙂 The Spanish are bringing it in/have brought it in at the frontier here. The sci-fi future is here and alive.

      There’s a book a bit like that where someone can catch all the thoughts. Spooky huh. Just spooky when most of us want to live a daily humdrum life with our boys, eat, drink, sleep, and enjoy what we have. I really wish ‘they’ would spend more time focusing on the people they should be tracking instead of nonentities like us. I’ve got an anecdote about that. Must remember to post it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sonel says:

        Oh my word! They must just stay away from me. I’ve seen too many movies where they remove the person’s eye for criminal activities. 😛

        I agree. That’s all I want. As long as they leave me alone, I’ll leave them alone. We are happy with what we have and I really wish so as well.

        Would love to see that anecdote. 😀


        • Yes, exactly what Sonmi said above. Frightening isn’t it? Although doubt my eyeballs would be of use to anyone. Apart from anything else they are chronically shortsighted.

          I’d love to remember whichever one it was I was thinking about yesterday …

          Liked by 1 person

          • Sonel says:

            hahaha! Same here. I have monovision but the right eye can’t see so well anymore. 😆

            You’ll remember in your sleep. hahaha!


  8. EllaDee says:

    I often wonder… for me, William Shakespeare’s words from As You Like It speak to the information revolution and from there ask, are we simply somewhere in the fourth stage of the seven stages of man…
    “All the world’s a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players;
    They have their exits and their entrances,
    And one man in his time plays many parts…
    Then, a soldier,
    Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
    Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
    Seeking the bubble reputation
    Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then, the justice…”


  9. makagutu says:

    you say he just randomly picked a bag with guns and said I could rob passengers in a train? And he expects to be believed. I think that is the height of ambition.
    I think with Sonmi, they will be stealing eyeballs. Terrifying times to imagine


    • I merely report what the media says he said. However, in short yes. We all find random bags of guns and knives and ammunition dumped in a park and think, ‘hey, I’ll rob a few people on a train’. I think it is the height of delusion. Maybe he’s going for the crazy defence?

      Ah well, you are younger than me. Your eyeballs will be of more use. When I am partying in hell and you read about eyeball thefts, remember, you read it here first 😉


      • makagutu says:

        I will be walking with my eyes open. I may just get a bag full of guns and ammunition. I will then rob a van with money on transit. That way there are less people to deal with.
        I will remember that

        Liked by 1 person

        • Just make sure I’m not on it 🙂


          • makagutu says:

            I will.
            Something else has occurred to me, why is he being branded a terrorist and not a lone gunman?
            Does the offence become multiplied if referred to as an act of terrorism or is there something more than meets the eye


          • Known to the security services of France, Spain and Belgium, I think, and allegedly has links with Syria or somewhere. Can’t remember the detail so don’t quote me on any of it. I wrote this yesterday. I’ve forgotten now!

            We were discussing this yesterday at home in terms of how do you deal with suspected terrorists or potential terrorists.. Unless your law specifically says you can arrest someone on suspicion of being a crim, you have to wait until they commit a crime. Or, say, you prove they are members of an illegal organisation. It’s a fine line between civil liberties (remember those?) and actually legally fighting terrorism. Very difficult.


          • makagutu says:

            I find the definitions of terrorists to depend on who is in power. Or rather who is doing the defining. The British colonial government would have branded the freedom fighters in the colonies terrorists. Mandela was treated as such by the US govt till very late. It is really a fine line and I can’t tell who draws it.


          • Ah, the classic definition. Someone’s terrorist is someone else’s freedom fighter. Too true.


  10. cobbies69 says:

    I, my child and grand children and their children and so on can look forward to a grand safe future.. Maybe!


  11. That trade off will always exist but the real problem as I see it is in the manipulation of the events by those who wish to further their own agendas. These events are still relatively rare in many places including most of the EU and in Canada but, nonetheless, are being used to leverage the perceived for ever increasing security which benefits mainly the security contractors who provide the service at great cost. I’m not suggesting that we bury our heads in the sand and pretend thet we have no problems, but, rather that we become better at spotting and dismissing attempts to manipulate our feelings based on emotional as opposed to rational arguments.
    Oh, and by the way, it was a very brave act done by those three friends.
    That does not, however, mean that our current Canadian PM Stephen Harpur should shore up his attempt at re-election by playing out a huge unnecessary public safety agenda. Here in CA our greatest threats come from our sedentary lifestyles and horrible diets, not from “guys with guns.”


    • Your last point is valid. But it’s not quite as scary as being sat on a train when someone comes through brandishing a Kalashnikov.

      Still, I think the public has lost the right to so-called individual freedoms, and some time ago. The amount of tracking of the average person via computers and microchipped passports/ID cards is depressing.

      I would easily swap Facebook (which I dislike), Twotter (which I don’t use), and blogging for an Internet computer free life. When ringing home meant going into a telephone exchange in Bombay or Bangkok and being connected by operator (and reversing the charges too :)) That was freedom. No mobiles. No selfies of me in front of the Gateway to India or on the beach in Pattaya. Just postcards and the odd phone call. Not that there weren’t incidents. I travelled to India just after Bhopal. And the odd plane was hijacked. But I’m glad I lived that life back then. Much more fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Kev says:

    Reblogged this on Kev's Great Indie Authors and commented:
    Any of you who have been watching the news lately should be familiar with this event which is more than worthy of a mention. Thanks for letting me use this on Rollover Sunday, Clouds!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Arkenaten says:

    Many people will tell you it was a lot safer in South Africa pre democracy – which is very true. But then the vast majority of the criminal element were constrained along with the rest of the population by Apartheid.
    Democracy freed up all ends of the spectrum.
    ”Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.”

    My own experience with ”machine guns” happened way back in ’79 as I went through Tel Aviv airport on my way to Jo’burg.
    Fark! I had never before seen an automatic weapon other than on telly and here I was, confronted by what amounted to a whole damn brigade. I nearly shat myself. And all passengers were escorted through passport control to some empty room and had to deposit our passports on a large folding table where some military type sat behind going through them. About an hour later we were recalled and told to take our passport. No explanation, no discussion.
    Weird and scary.


    • Many people? Or many white people? Or both? Ever been through the Iron Curtain? That freaked me. Back to the other blasts from the past on Roughseas there’s the post about the shooting at the frontier 😀


      • Arkenaten says:

        I should have guessed that assumption would have been made. My own fault.
        Generally, across the board, if stats are to believed.
        The Apartheid government had things pretty much nailed down.
        I don’t think SA society as a whole was ready for all aspects of democracy and the criminal element must have been rubbing their hands in gleeful anticipation.


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