US terror warning: France need to take strong position around Euro 2016, says security expert

US terror warning: France need to take strong position round Euro 2016, says security expert

France: "must take a strong position around security for Euro 2016"

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

In the wake of a United States government warning about potential terror attacks at Euro 2016, the French authorities need to take a "very strong position" around security at this summer's football championships, warns security expert Will Geddes.

The US state department has this week issued a blanket warning to American citizens planning to travel to Europe this summer, saying: "The large number of tourists ... will present greater targets for terrorists". 

Geddes, who advises large companies and other organisations on their security, told Paul Ross that the US warning was "unusual, with a lot of implications", and said: "We have to see a very strong position from France, who seem to be under a sustained level of attack from IS sympathisers. 

"If they get it wrong around Euro 2016 it could have very far-reaching implications."

While acknowledging that the travel advisory contained little new information - "we're all aware that potential attacks could happen at large-scale events ike Euro 2016" - Geddes added that its effect on US travellers could be significant. 

"For the state department to put something like this out does have a lot of implications," he said. "Not only in terms of creating concerns in US citizens travelling to Europe, but also in terms of them taking this robust position, which the [British] Foreign and Commonwealth Office haven’t. 

"Europe counts on a lot of US dollar tourism, so to dissuade a lot of Americans from flying over could have large-scale economic impact."

France, which will host hundreds of thousands of European football fans for this summer's finals which begin on 10 June, has already suffered two high-profile terror incidents on its soil in the last 18 months, with the Charlie Hebdo killings in January 2015 followed by November's multiple attacks throughout the city.

But Geddes said that it is crucial to keep the threat level in perspective. 

“We have to be pragmatic about this – the chances of getting caught up in a terrorist event are still remarkably low," he said. 

"You’re more likely to have your bag stolen or your wallet lifted than to get caught up in a terrorist event."

If France get it wrong around Euro 2016 it could have very far-reaching implications
Will Geddes, security expert