A new shocking twist in the Euro 2016 saga has emerged just days after stark warnings ISIS would make the event a target. It turns out 82 of the people hired for security posts on the football cup are on French terror watch lists.
The Directorate General of Internal Security (ISB) has screened a total of 3,500 individuals already hired for the job of ensuring the safety of visitors, according to Le Point. Those among the 82 found on the watch list could by definition either belong to a terrorist group, such as Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), or have a history of questionable behavior or extreme beliefs on either the left or right.
According to French authorities, some 90,000 personnel in total will be on duty during Euro 2016, including the stadiums, fan zones and on the streets. Of those, 77,000 are police and gendarmerie, while the rest comprise security and military personnel, as well as 1,000 or so volunteers.
“Such a unique event in exceptional circumstances requires extra security measures,” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told journalists.
In the meantime, French President Francois Hollande admitted that the risk of a terrorist attack taking place during the Euro 2016 football championship exists.
“This threat will last for a long time. But we must do everything to ensure that the Euro 2016 is a success,” the French president told radio France Inter on Sunday.
The French had made promises that the championship would be entirely secure, and the Mediterranean resort of Nice is set to spend about €1.2 million on preparations, which is almost half the €2.5 million budget, according to Le Point. The city will host four matches.
Each football team will also be given 17 police officers and two agents with France’s elite special forces for extra protection.
Russian police officers will also form part of the international operation deployed to maintain order during the championship. Six specially trained officers will be sent to France, while the need for more rank-and-file boots on the ground will depend on how far the national team gets in the tournament.
Governments of nations with ardent football fans have been warning citizens to exhibit caution, following warnings by members of the intelligence community that the Euro cup increasingly looks like a high-value terrorist target.
“Euro Cup Stadiums, fan zones and unaffiliated entertainment venues broadcasting the tournaments in France represent potential targets for terrorists,” the US State Department said in a warning to its traveling fans. That statement came following intelligence warnings that the Euro, along with seaside resorts and areas with a high concentration of people are all potential IS targets.
Embassies and consulates in Paris have also been reinforcing their premises with extra staff and security.
France has seen a wave of horrific terrorist attacks in recent months that leave many understandably worried about the prospect of security at the upcoming championship, to be held across 10 French cities, starting on June 10.
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