CATF Reports Jun. 7, 2016, 3:36pm


French investigators confirmed last week that a French navy vessel detected signals from one of the two black boxes of the EgyptAir airfare that crashed into the Mediterranean on May 19th. The cause of the crash remains unknown while international investigations proceed on several fronts, including the suspected enduring fallibility of air security measures.

The Roissy-Charles De Gaulle airport, from which the carrier had taken off to fly to Cairo, has been heavily scrutinized over the past several weeks. Since the Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket attacks, between January 2015 and April 2016, 86,000 authorizations of airport personnel to access restricted airport areas were re-examined. Over 600 Charles De Gaulle employees lost or failed to get clearance due to legal precedents, and so did 85 additional employees who were suspected to be or to have been exposed to radicalization. Within a month of the Paris terrorist attacks, about 70 badges were withdrawn from airport personnel with access to planes on the ground who had fallen under suspicion of the French police.

Although much needed, a tightened security grip inevitably comes with problematic implications, not the least of which is potential conflicts arising from the necessity for accelerated background checks in contrast with French labor laws that prevent employers from keeping ethnic, racial, and religious data on employees. Suspected radical ties, in particular, can only be reported based on observable behavior. Thus, a significant portion of the employees’ personal network – which may help provide critical elements to identify suspects in a state of emergency – remains entirely unaccounted for.

From The Daily Beast:

“In years past, more quietly, police have broken up several criminal networks among baggage handlers with radical Islamist connections. […]

A red badge normally requires at least one background check, and is then given for three years—while radicalization, as we have seen, can take place in a matter of months or even weeks.

In years past, the communist CGT labor union and French law made it difficult to dismiss employees suspected of radical Islamist sympathies. […]

But by last year, even the CGT leadership expressed concerns about some of its members who were working for Air France. After the November attacks, CGT-Air France secretary general Philippe Martinez told France Info radio that 500 of 2,000 members had been identified as “fundamentalists” and expelled from the union.

French law strictly forbids discrimination on religious, ethnic, or racial grounds, as in the United States, but it goes much further and prohibits keeping religious, ethnic, or racial data, so all decisions about suspect personnel are based, punctiliously, on behavior and it is hard to identify which actions may be tied to radical religious activities. […]

But, one must wonder, what about the employees who show no public signs of religious fervor at all, like many of those connected to the Paris and Brussels attacks in the last few months?”

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