News reports are becoming much thinner on the Air Products attack in France as the investigation continues in the somewhat slower and tedious information collection phase.
A TV station in Allentown, PA (the home of Air Products) is reporting that the facility in France is now open and operational. There is no word about how much actual damage occurred or whether it has been repaired. I assume that this is more about the investigators being done with the scene.
Another news report describes Salhi’s actions as he was detained; “He was overpowered by a firefighter as he was trying to prise open a bottle of acetone in an apparent suicidal bid to destroy the factory.” This provides another indicator that there was not a bomb detonation involved in the attack.
The investigation into possible IS links continues. News reports this weekend indicated that Salhi had sent a selfie of him and the beheaded body to an unknown contact. USAToday is reporting today that that contact was Sebastien Younes in Syria. This includes unconfirmed reports that Younes is claiming to have encouraged Salhi to initiate the attack.
That USAToday report also notes that: “Air Products officials have said Salhi had an entry badge for the site in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, near Lyon, and had never caused problems in the past.”
The questions continue about how a man with suspected ties to radical jihadists was given routine access to what we in the United States would probably consider a high-risk chemical facility. I don’t know what sort of vetting process companies in France have for checking for potential terrorist ties, but I would assume that that would have to be done through the French authorities.
High-risk chemical facilities in the United States that are covered under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program are supposed to include vetting all employees and unescorted visitors for terrorist ties as part of their site security plan. Unfortunately, there is currently no way to do that as the CFATS personnel surety program (PSP) has been tied up by political wrangling between the folks at DHS and the regulated community.
So, with no way to vet people for potential terrorist ties there is no way to know how many Salhi’s are currently routinely entering high-risk chemical facilities in this country.