Stadium Security in France Stopped a Suicide Bomber from Entering, Potentially Saving Hundreds

Security-Notice-Metal-Detector-Sign-S-8510Yesterday, as we all know, our Parisienne brothers and sisters were horrifically attacked by terrorists. At last word, 129 were killed and countless others injured. One story from the Wall Street Journal that particularly caught my eye because it pertains to sports was that of a suicide bomber who had a ticket to enter an exhibition Germany-France soccer match at the Stade de France (capacity 80,000) but was blocked by a stadium security guard (give that guard a raise) from entering, saving many lives. Instead, the suicide bomber detonated his bomb outside of the stadium. The game went on as scheduled. I suppose the thinking was that it would have caused a great panic and there might have been more suicide bombers waiting outside. When the bomb detonated, the fans reacted as if fireworks went off outside the stadium. It was not until the second half that fans become aware of the carnage happening in their hometown.

I have been a frequent critic of increasing stadium security at baseball and football stadiums here in the United States. I feel it violates our rights, and it amounts to little more than security theater. I can hide just about anything under a few tampons in my purse. A story like this does make me rethink my beliefs somewhat. Can good security checks prevent deaths? Is it worth it to let them use the scanner or metal detector on us? It won’t prevent all attacks, but it stopped this attack. There is no doubt that this guard prevented the deaths of thousands. Does this change your opinion at all about stadium security?

In any event, we probably better get used to it. Although there are no known threats, increased security measures in the wake of the Paris attacks are coming to the NFL and MLB probably won’t be far behind.

EDIT: The security guard, who only wishes to be known by his first name Zouhier, survived the suicide bomb. His story was corroborated by witnesses.

SECOND-EDIT: I changed the headline to be less inflammatory. I was emotional when I wrote this piece, thinking of the great loss of life suffered overseas. Thanks for understanding.

19 thoughts on “Stadium Security in France Stopped a Suicide Bomber from Entering, Potentially Saving Hundreds

  1. (give that guard a raise)

    Unfortunately he’s probably dead, but he definitely saved hundreds of lives in the stadium.

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      1. That’s good to hear. In the WSJ article, they talk to another guard at a different location, but it almost sounds like you are talking to the guy who discovered it.

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  2. Are we going to frisk everyone going into every ballpark, restaurant, club, museum, business, movie theater, etc in the US? The sad truth is that as terrorism becomes a part of 20th century life, we will ultimately be forced to fear attacks less and the pre-terrorism age will seem like the days before guns, cars and democracy. Thankfully, the terrorists were too dumb to think to harm folks outside the stadium as the crowds were filing through security to get in.

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    1. Well, on the “too dumb,” the one bomber being stopped may have forced the others into premature detonation of their bombs after they heard his blast. We’ll likely never know, of course.

      Otherwise, because he’s a Mooslim, and not Eric Rudolph fighting the evils of abortion, there will be new clampdowns here in the US, of course.

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  3. I don’t know about you guys but, we really don’t think about it that much when it comes to strict arena security and mall security methods being provided in order for us customers safety. Back when Craigy mentioned in HBT about metal detectors in baseball ballparks and with fans treated like they were “cattle” as they were going in really made me scratch my head and question why lol. Over here we also have alot of scanners, metal detectors and those stick things or whatever you call it ( XD ) in most entertainment venues we have attended and we didn’t even question about it ourselves cause for us, it provides added safety. US and the other countries probably has ISIS to worry about, and us over here have the Abu sayyaf and the MILF A.K.A: Moro Islamic Liberation front, to worry about bomb treats, bombings and other kinds of terrorism. And I think at least for me and my other friends who attended sporting venues and concerts, having that kind of added security makes us at ease. I don’t see anything wrong with that though.

    Oh btw!! When we enter, we have a woman and man security guard. Us girls goes to where the security woman is at and the guys goes to the other. Is it same there in the US? I really want to know XD!!

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    1. No, it is not the same. They usually do hand scanners and metal detectors. There is not usually any physical contact. The exception to that is airports and occasionally government buildings. But even then it is optional (if you are afraid of backscatter machines) and they usually have a male and female guard to handle it.

      I have generally been opposed to this, but the events in Paris have made me reconsider. While it is true that someone could attack the line, the damage in terms of lives is likely to be considerably less than in the middle of the most crowded section of the stadium, and if done in some locations depending on the power of the bomb you could see actual collapse injuring or killing many more.

      It is something to think about.

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    2. Here, it depends. For airport security, we will get a female agent for a body frisk. That happened to me a couple of times–once to my little girl when she was an infant, and once to me personally–and I felt very, very violated. It didn’t make me feel safe because I was randomly picked. It was for show–not everyone goes through this process. Airport security no longer pats down young children here in the U.S. I forget what the cut-off age is now.

      At stadiums, I haven’t been assigned a security guard according to my gender. If it’s a male guard, they treat a tampon in a purse like it’s untouchable.

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      1. I know I certainly feel lots safer with the TSA minimum-wage granny-gropers on the job. And with the stadium won’t-detect-anything detectors in place.
        Travel and stadium security in this country is a joke, put in place by politicians and corporations who need to show that they are ” doing something”, even if what they are doing is utterly and completely ineffective.

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      2. Wow… Over here, the thing the guards checks thoroughly the most is inside our bags or luggage, the secu’s also checks us out around our pockets and shoes (pockets and bag checking when it comes to malls and venues), and that’s about it. I haven’t been inside an airport for like a very long time but I still remember that’s how the procedures there even are. I don’t know today though.

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    3. Those incidents in Paris will be forever remembered, we too offer our prayers to those families that were affected… Just as we Filipinos will never forget the incident on what happened in Mamasapano and to our “Fallen 44″… I really do hope that those people with f***ed up minds on what they did to that city would face very harsh punishments on what they’ve done.

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      1. Ren, I think that one would and should have been avoided if the SAF troopers used silencers in the first place. I mean seriously… They went there that it’s very obvious already that they are in enemy territory, they still used weapons without any kinds of silent attachment taking out their target. Truly a definition of a FAILED planning by the ones who organized that operation.

        -.-

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      2. I agree, Ren.

        I read this in the New York Times this morning, and it moved me.

        “Sports can seem near the point of insignificance after this weekend — or it can be regarded as being essential to defying those who are bent on destroying the harmonious interactions of people around the world.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/16/sports/soccer/paris-terrorism-sports-arenas-need-security-not-complacency.html?rref=collection%2Fnewseventcollection%2FAttacks%20in%20Paris&action=click&contentCollection=Middle%20East&module=Collection&region=Marginalia&src=me&pgtype=article)

        I thought focusing on sports with this post might appear trivial or crass–why write about stadium security when the bodies haven’t even been buried? Sports are more important and essential, an act of defiance, to the terrorists.

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      3. Ares –

        Reading up on the incident it seems like it was quite a screw-up in planning by the government, and it cost a lot of police and some civilians their lives. That said, I want to point out that silencers do not work like they do in the movies. A silenced gun is still very loud, and anyone nearby will hear it. It is quieter than a non-silenced gunshot but not enough to prevent the neighbors from hearing it although the noise won’t carry for miles like it does in a non-silenced weapon. Furthermore it reduces range and accuracy of your weapon, and increases the chances of a misfire or failure. Also the weapons they were armed with do not have silencer options.

        But you are right, planning and intelligence were way off in that operation based on what I read.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Per Badhair, Reflex and others, unless there’s chemical detectors, like the TSA wipes, at the gates of sports stadiums, how do we really stop a bomber with a vest of plastic explosives? Especially if its American football and wearing a fest to an outdoor stadium looks entirely natural?

    Per Hist, of course, soon enough, terrorists will change their MO to something else.

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  5. One thing I noticed when I was travelling overseas on business back in the late ’90’s. The metal detectors have variable settings. Carrying exactly the same stuff would get you through one time, and flag you for search the next time. We got to where we could tell when security was on heightened alert by how easy it was to set off the detectors.

    My last pat down was when I left Budapest last July. I was travelling with some friends. We laughed about the special “Hungarian goodbye.”

    But of course, this not a light-hearted topic. I am extremely ambivalent; being something of a libertarian by sentiment. But my heart aches for all of those young people being callously slaughtered in that rock concert hall. The world is too small now for state sponsors of terrorism to be allowed to continue to exist. We misjudged these guys to be a regional threat only; it now appears that we have a small state whose psychopathy makes the North Koreans look like the Swiss.

    We will have to endure enhanced security for at least an extended period. And ruthless deeds are going to be required to end this threat. I am not sure what it will take to work; I have some understanding of the ethnic challenges in that region. But the existing situation cannot be tolerated. And yes, it will be tougher to get into the ballpark.

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  6. One thing I want to say on the topic of security in general is that people do not generally understand the concept of layered security. The understanding is that no single security approach is 100%, so a number of partial solutions is more likely to catch a criminal/terrorist than trying to make a single litmus test that they can easily plan for.

    For example –

    1) Patdowns are random. You do not know if you will get one or not. While on the one hand you may not get one at all, you also might, so you have to plan for it whether or not you actually will face one.

    2) Background checks on passengers/employees. It won’t reveal every possible problem, but it will catch some.

    3) Metal detectors/scanners. Also again there are ways around these, but you have to plan for it.

    4) ID verification with the tickets. Defeatable but yet another hurdle.

    5) Active monitoring of people in the location for suspicious activity.

    Etc etc.

    None of these are individually perfect, in fact most have gaping holes. But the point is to raise a number of barriers and considerations. This will reduce the ability of some people to carry out a malicious act, catch a high percentage of those who try, and minimize the damage of those who succeed. In the case of metal detectors and bag checks at stadiums, it won’t necessarily prevent an attacker but it may catch some, and it keeps the damage outside the stadium in some cases, which reduces the amount of lives lost in the attack.

    The concept of layered security is common in government and technology. That we are starting to require it in the private and commercial sectors is not a surprise, but it is disappointing.

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