TIME Aviation

German Pilots Cast Doubt on Blaming of Co-Pilot for Crash

German pilots reacted with anger and confusion on Thursday after French and German statements said the co-pilot on the Germanwings crash earlier this week deliberately slammed the plane into the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board. Stunned at the revelations, some pilots believe that the authorities are eager to find a culprit to blame, before the relevant facts are known. “It is a very, very incomplete picture,” says James Phillips, international affairs director of the German Pilots Association, speaking on the phone to TIME late Thursday. He said his own reaction was “angry.” “I have the feeling that there was a search for a quick answer, rather than a good answer,” he said.

In a chilling press briefing on Thursday, the Marseille public prosecutor Brice Robin charged with investigating Tuesday’s crash told reporters that the plane’s 28-year-old co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, deliberately flew the plane into a mountain while he was alone in the cockpit. His far more seasoned captain, Patrick Sonderheimer, had apparently left for a toilet break, and when Sonderheimer knocked on the cockpit door to come back in, Lubitz refused to open the door. Instead, he took the Airbus A320 plane steadily downwards at 3,000 feet per minute, until it slammed into the Alpine ravine, pulverizing the aircraft and killing 144 passengers and six crew members. Robin said Lubitz had “a willingness to destroy the aircraft.” Shortly after, Lufthansa CEO Carten Spohr and the German Transportation Minister each told reporters that they had concluded, based on Robin’s account, that Lubitz deliberately crashed the plane.

Phillips, who spoke to several members of the pilots’ association immediately after Robin’s press briefing, said they were “very, very confused,” and that the Marseille prosecutor, who is charged with investigating the crash, “raised more questions than he had answered.”

Chief among those questions is why the captain, who spent several minutes banging frantically on the cockpit door, did not use an emergency code, designed to override the system those inside the cockpit use to let someone in. “We all agree that the captain left the cockpit,” says Phillips. “But we have an emergency access code to get into the cockpit. That was not mentioned,” he said. Other pilots believe that the person within the cockpit can override any attempt to gain entry from outside.

Airbus has a YouTube video to instruct A320 crew members about what to do if one of them is trying to get inside the cockpit, but those inside do not open. According to the video, the crew would tap an emergency code on the keypad outside the cockpit door, setting off a 30-second alarm inside the cockpit, until the door opens for just five seconds, allowing the person to enter.

Robin said he was sure Lubitz was conscious, since the audio on the cockpit voice recorder has him breathing normally throughout the 10-minute descent into the mountains, until the moment of impact. But pilots are not convinced that the breathing sounds meant he was able to open the door to Sonderheimer. “Was he conscious? Could he open the door?” Phillips asked. “The prosecutor did not provide answers to that.”

With attention now focused on Lubitz’s mental state, Germanwings crew members who flew with the rookie pilot just days before Tuesday’s crash say he seemed totally normal. “We’ve spoken to crew that flew with him a few days before, and say he was relaxed and very normal,” Phillips says. “He was not acting in any way strange. He was friendly and outgoing, and there was never any sign that anyone should be concerned about.”

The International Federal of Airline Pilots Associations, or IFALPA, condemned the leaks of the cockpit voice recorder or CVR on Thurdsay, saying that it violated long-established practices after plane crashes, where details are kept confidential until the investigation is complete. “Leaks of this nature greatly harm flight safety since they invite ill-informed speculation from the media and general public and discourage cooperation with investigators in future accidents,” said a statement from the Montreal-based organization. “The sole purpose of a CVR is to aid investigators… not to apportion blame.”

Read next: Germanwings Plane Crash: We Could Be Doing Much More To Prevent Pilot Suicide

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TIME Aviation

Mystery of Germanwings Plane Crash Deepens as Focus on Co-Pilot Intensifies

"What I can say is that he voluntarily allowed the plane to descend, to lose altitude"

Correction appended, March 26, 2015

The motives of the young co-pilot who officials believe slammed the Germanwings plane into a French mountainside on Tuesday remain a mystery more than two days later.

German authorities searched the Dusseldorf home of Andreas Lubitz on Thursday, looking for clues as to why he might have piloted the aircraft into French Alps, killing all 150 people on board. Five investigators went “through the apartment, looking for clues as to what the co-pilot’s motivation might have been,” the city’s police spokesman Markuz Diesczery said in televised comments, “if he did indeed bring the plane down.” Authorities were also seen removing bags from a residence believed to belong to his parents in Montabaur.

Earlier in the day, the French prosecutor investigating the deadly crash stunned relatives, officials and much of Europe, by telling reporters in an extraordinarily candid and chilling briefing that Lubitz apparently locked the seasoned captain out of the cockpit and “had a willingness to destroy the aircraft.”

“It was a voluntary action of the co-pilot,” Brice Robin, the Marseille prosecutor, said. “It is intentional, so we are going to have to change the nature of the investigation.”

The revelation transformed in an instant what most people thought was a tragic accident, into a criminal case of huge proportions. The focus is now on the young pilot with 18 months’ experience, who, according to the prosecutor, manipulated the controls to take the plane into its descent for about 10 minutes, until it smashed into the mountainside at 500 miles per hour.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that the revelations added a “new, simply incomprehensible dimension” to Tuesday’s fatal crash.

The mystery is why Lubitz, 28, from Montabaur, Germany, took himself, five colleagues and 144 passengers to a catastrophic death. He did all that without saying a single word, while the captain banged frantically on the cockpit door, attempting to get in as the aircraft plummeted downwards, the prosecutor said. He displayed no doubt that it was intentional. “I’m not using the word suicide because I do not know,” Robin said. “What I can say is that he voluntarily allowed the plane to descend, to lose altitude.”

The horrifying last minutes of the flight were captured on the cockpit voice recorder which rescue workers found amid the wreckage within hours of the crash on Tuesday. Detailing what the audio recording showed, Robin said the captain, Patrick Sonderheimer from Düsseldorf, is heard starting to prepare the details for the eventual landing at that German city, to which it was flying from Barcelona.

Robin said the recording showed about 20 minutes of “cordial” and “normal” banter between Sonderheimer and Lubitz. Sonderheimer then asked Lubitz to take over, and Lubitz gave a “laconic” one-word reply, Robin said. Sonderheimer left the cockpit, most likely to go to the toilet, then returned a few minutes later and asked Lubitz to open the door, after punching in the cockpit door code on the digital keypad outside. There was no answer, and with the door locked from the inside, the captain could not gain access.

With the captain desperately banging on the door, Lubitz remained completely silent, as the plane steadily descended at about 3,000 ft. per minute in a drastic diversion from the flight path, whose coordinates were set in the computer. “He was breathing normally,” Robin said. “It was not the breathing of someone suffering from any kind of illness.” Instead, “There was no word, no word, no word for the last 10 minutes. He voluntarily refused to open the door and turned the button to get down the plane.”

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said the airline had concluded that the plane was deliberately crashed. “We’re in a state of shock,” he told reporters. “We are horrified. This is the worst possible nightmare than anyone can have in this company.” Lubitz had passed medical tests “with flying colors. There had never been any doubt that he was fit,” he said. “We simply cannot understand this.”

Before meeting the press, Robin spoke to the stunned relatives of the victims, scores of whom have traveled to the French Alps near the crash site. And he also revealed his theory to the families of Lubitz and Sonderheimer, who have also gathered near the crash site, but who are being kept separate from the other relatives, according to Robin.

Lubitz joined Germanwings in September 2013, after graduating from Lufthansa’s in-house training program. Germanwings is Lufthansa’s low-cost subsidiary, headquartered in Cologne. Little else was known about him on Thursday. One Twitter photo shows Lubitz, a slender young man with dark hair and a sparse moustache, sitting on a wall next to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

As the shock set in, one consolation for relatives seemed to be that the victims seemed unaware until the final impact that they were about to die. “The victims only realized at the very last minute what was happening,” Robin said. “You only hear screams right at the moment before the impact.” He said he believed “death was instantaneous. Slamming into the mountain at that speed, the plane was pulverized.”

Investigators will likely begin questioning how pilots are recruited, trained and monitored once on staff, including whether they focus too heavily on technical knowledge rather than psychological factors, especially since much of piloted is now automated. “There is no inquiry about your personal lives, religious views,” a former Air France pilot Jean Serrat told the French network BFM on Thursday, talking about pilot training. “It is all about technical capabilities and medical things.”

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly described Andreas Lubitz’s flight history.

TIME Aviation

Why the Black Box Recordings Deepen Germanwings Crash Mystery

Reports suggest that one of the pilots tried to break back into the cabin minutes before the plane crashed

BREAKING NEWS: Prosecutor Says Germanwings Co-Pilot Purposely Crashed Plane

Voice recordings retrieved from the wreckage of the Germanwings plane that crashed on Tuesday suggest that one of the pilots was locked out of the cockpit and then tried to break down the door to gain entry minutes before it hit Alpine slopes in southern France.

Agence France Presse and the New York Times quote an unnamed investigator who describes the sounds heard from the plane cockpit. The official describes hearing a chair being pushed back and the door opening and closing. Then knocking is heard.

The investigator told the New York Times: “The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door, and there is no answer. And then he hits the door stronger, and no answer. There is never an answer. You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.”

Germanwings said in a statement that at the moment, “we do not have information from competent authorities to confirm this story. We are doing everything to get the most information possible and we are not engaging in speculation.”

After the attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, airlines, cockpit doors were strengthened and altered so they could only be opened from the inside.

The focus of the investigation will include the character and health of the pilots. Aviation experts told AFP: “If the pilots did not stop the airplane from flying into the mountains, it is because they were unconscious or dead, or they had decided to die, or they were forced to die.”

With Europe in shock at the crash, the leaders of the countries most affected, French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy landed by helicopter in the tiny village of Seyne-Les-Alpes on Wednesday, the base for rescue teams scouring the Alpine slopes. Hollande later told reporters that there had been “not the slightest possibility of saving anyone, because there were no survivors.” After flying over the area, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it was “a picture of horror.”

Rescue teams face daunting logistical tasks working on steep mountain slopes, far from the narrow twisting roads that wind through the Alps. Many have been dropped from helicopters and then roped together for safety as they pick their way through debris to collect body parts of the victims.

Germanwings flight 9525, which crashed midway from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, had six crew and 144 passengers from about 15 different countries, mostly from Germany and Spain. Among the dead were 16 teenagers from a small German town called Haltern, who were flying home from a week’s school exchange program in Barcelona. One of their teachers had just got married. Also aboard were two Americans, and three generations of one Spanish family. “We are in a state of shock and grief and mourning,” Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann told reporters, adding that some crew members were too distraught to work.

Then there is the job of identifying the bodies. Police told Hollande, Merkel and Rajoy that they were designing a system to transport the remains off the mountain for DNA identification, probably in Marseille.

The voice recordings may have added important clues to what happened to the plane, an Airbus A320, one of the European manufacturer’s best-selling models. It was in seemingly good condition — Germanwings said it was inspected the day before the crash. It lost control at cruising altitude of about 36,000 feet, rather than on takeoff or landing, as is the case in many plane crashes and the pilots did not send out a distress call before the plane slammed into the mountain. Complicating the investigation, the plane obliterated on impact. “When we go to a crash site we expect to find part of the fuselage, but here we see nothing at all,” Xavier Roy, the pilot coordinating air operations, told Reuters.

Rescue teams found the cockpit voice recorder, one of the two so-called black boxes, on Tuesday, badly dented and twisted in the impact. Jouty, the air-safety director, told reporters that there were human voices on the recording, yet they did yet not know whose they were.

The recording helps explain what happened between 10.30 a.m. and 10.32 a.m. That is when the two pilots lost radio contact with control towers in southern France. A local traffic controller sent a “loss of radio contact” distress signal at 10:47 a.m., saying the pilots had not answered several calls, Le Monde reported on Wednesday. A few minutes after that, the plane crashed.

In understanding what happened, officials will try interpret even the silences on the voice recorder — perhaps clues about whether the pilots were somehow incapacitated, or whether the engines were running normally. “Even if there is no conversation in the last half hour, we can then work on the sounds inside the cockpit,” French Transportation Minister Alain Vidalies told Europe1 radio on Wednesday.

With France still deeply on edge after a spate of terror attacks in Paris in January killed 17 people, French officials tried to assure people that terrorism seemed a highly unlikely cause for Tuesday’s crash, in part because the plane did not explode in the air. Still, the French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told the RTL network, “all hypotheses must be considered, as long as the investigation has not yielded any results.”

Read next: Germanwings Flights Disrupted as Some Crew Refuse to Fly After Crash

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TIME Tunisia

Deadly Museum Attack Highlights Tunisia’s Internal Struggles

Focus shifts to the challenges of building up security against regional threats while also forging a new democracy.

The two men who strolled into the National Bardo Museum in Tunis on March 18 looked leisurely and relaxed. Other than the Kalashnikov rifles in their hands, there was no sense that a massacre was about to unfold. Instead, the museum’s security camera footage, posted on the Tunisian Interior Ministry’s Facebook page late Saturday, shows Yassine Laabidi and Hatem Khachnaoui walking through the deserted lobby for several seconds, barely glancing around on their way to the room where dozens of tourists had come to see ancient mosaics and artifacts. When the two run into a third man coming down the stairs, their brief encounter is cordial.

So where were the security guards charged with protecting one of North Africa’s most prestigious museums and Tunisia’s parliament, which sits on the same compound? Nowhere in sight, a top Tunisian politician said this weekend, in a series of admissions from officials that major security flaws led to last Wednesday’s bloodshed. Twenty tourists from Japan, Italy, Colombia, Spain, France, Australia, Poland and Britain were killed, and about 50 others wounded. Abdelfattah Mourou, deputy speaker of Tunisia’s parliament, told AFP that of the four policemen posted outside the museum and parliament—highly strategic buildings—two of them were off drinking coffee nearby, a third was eating a midday snack “and the fourth had not turned up,” Mourou said. “It is a big failure.”

That is an understatement.

As Tunisia reels from the attack, for which the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) has claimed responsibility, officials face tough questions from Western governments and Tunisians themselves about how gunmen met no resistance, despite the fact that officials have warned for months that hundreds of jihadists were plotting violent attacks aimed at undoing their new democracy. The two men died in a blaze of gunfire when security forces stormed the museum about three hours after the attack began.

President Beji Caid Essebsi said on Sunday that a third suspected attacker was still on the loose, though he did not provide any details. Security forces said they had arrested 20 jihadists, with 10 of them directly connected to the museum attack. But the President said one key figure in the attack is still missing. “There were for certain three terrorists,” Essebsi told the French network iTele in a televised interview. “There is one on the run. He will not get far.”

Accounting for how security failed so drastically is crucial for Tunisia, whose 11 million people depend heavily on Western tourists. The country’s tourism industry accounted for 7% of its GDP before the Arab Spring and still provides tens of thousands of jobs for young Tunisians, including one of the now-dead gunmen, Laabidi.

In their rush to reassure foreigners that the country is safe, officials say they have been struggling to build an effective security apparatus, while at the same time forging a new democracy; the 2011 revolution drove out Tunisia’s longtime authoritarian leader, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, and sparked the Arab Spring uprisings across the region.

Yet there is another crucial factor: political will. Essebsi said Saturday that Islamist politicians who ran Tunisia’s government until January were wary of cracking down on suspected jihadists; the major Islamic party, Ennahda, was banned under Ben Ali’s reign, then took power after the revolution but lost their majority last October. “There has been much too much leniency these past few years, especially by the Islamist government while it was in power,” Essebsi told Paris Match.

Looking back, there appears to be some truth in that statement.

In September 2012, just after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, for example, hundreds of hardliners stormed the American embassy in Tunis and hoisted the flag associated with al-Qaeda, without intervention from security forces. The mob was finally beaten back when then-President Moncef Marzouki—a secular liberal at odds politically with the Islamic party—deployed the presidential guards after receiving a frantic call from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to Marzouki’s account to TIME in a palace interview a few days later. When TIME asked Ennahda head Rachid Ghannouchi, whose party was in power, why his government didn’t crack down on Salafists, he said, “We don’t judge people based on what ideology they follow, but on their actions.”

Eighteen months on, those actions have now shaken Tunisia, and the task of stopping jihadist threats seems more difficult than it was back in 2012. Of the more than 3,000 Tunisians estimated to have fought with jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, officials say about 500 are back home. But there is no need for jihadists to travel far to train for battle. Tunisia is wedged between Algeria, where al-Qaeda has long been active, and Libya, where ISIS has seized on the absence of any functional central government to launch attacks. Tunisian officials have described the gunmen as Salafists, and said they received weapons training last December in Libya, along with other Tunisians.

In an email to TIME on Sunday, Ghannouchi, whose Ennahda party has about 27% of seats in parliament, deplored last Wednesday’s attack, saying the country needs a major counter-terrorism strategy on all levels. “Terrorism must be a national cause above political differences,” he wrote. “The performance of the security and military forces has been improving and achieving greater proficiency and effectiveness, however, the attack clearly shows that there are shortcomings.”

Indeed, security forces have been battling jihadists for months, with about 23 killed last year in skirmishes in the remote mountains near the Algerian border. Struggling to cope, the government announced a new counter-terrorism force last December. Just two weeks ago, Algeria sent air-to-ground missiles to Tunisia, for the purpose at bombing terrorist bases in the remote mountains of the country, according to an Algerian security official—a sign, perhaps, that Tunisia was weighing much tougher action against jihadists.

Essebsi admitted to Paris Match that “among the unemployed and often desperate youth, the jihad has had some appeal.” Similarly, Ghannouchi said in his email to TIME that Tunisia needed to “provide hope for young people in finding jobs and creating a better future for them.”

Yet that might not have stopped Laabidi and Khachnaoui from massacring tourists at the museum. Laabidi’s family said he was a middle-class urbanite who had studied French, had a stable job and showed no outward sign of radicalism. “My brother was a bon vivant,” Laabidi’s older brother told AFP, stunned at the man’s bloody death. He “enjoyed a drink with mates and would joke around with everyone. He had no complex whatsoever.”

TIME Tunisia

Tunisia Reels From a Terror Attack Possibly Linked to ISIS

ISIS claims responsibility for a terror attack in Tunis that killed over 20 people

With Tunisians reeling from the terror attack that killed 18 foreign tourists on Wednesday in the heart of their capital, the government scrambled to try avert any further attacks, while accounting for how gunmen were able to mount the deadliest operation in decades, in broad daylight and with seemingly little difficulty.

Late Wednesday, security forces arrested nine people, five of whom were believed to be directly connected to the attack on the National Bardo Museum, according to Tunisia’s presidential office, which said the suspects were part of a terror “cell.” In the worst attack on foreigners in 13 years—and with the highest death toll perhaps ever—two gunmen cornered the tourists in the museum parking lot early Wednesday afternoon, massacring several of them, before holding several others under siege inside. Security forces stormed the building about four hours later, killing the attackers and freeing the hostages. Among those killed were tourists from Spain, Italy, Poland and Germany, most of whom were passengers on a Mediterranean cruise-liner that had stopped for a day of sight seeing in Tunis.

As the shock sank in on Wednesday night, 88-year-old Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, who took office only in January after the country’s first presidential elections, vowed an all-out fight against jihadists. Tunisia, he said in a televised address, was “in a war with terror, and these savage minority groups will not frighten us. The fight against them will continue until they are exterminated.” Parliament on Thursday pledged more funds to beef up security and intelligence.

Yet despite the aggressive talk, Tunisians wondered whether their country’s security has been too lax, and how the growing threats within this small country of 11 million people had gone unnoticed. On Thursday, Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid admitted that one of the two gunman had been under surveillance, although it appeared that Tunisia’s security forces did not have information linking him to a specific militant organization. “He was known to the security services, he was flagged and monitored,” said Essid, speaking to the French network RTL. “We are in the process of further investigation. We cannot say which organization they belong to.”

Despite that, early suspicions of who was behind Wednesday’s attack point to the Islamic State of Iraq and greater Syria (ISIS). Tunisian analysts speculated on Wednesday that the attack on the museum might have been timed in retaliation for the death earlier this week of Ahmed al-Rouissi, one of Tunisia’s most wanted militants, who was killed fighting with ISIS in the Libyan city of Sirt.

On Thursday, the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist organizations, provided an English translation of an ISIS audio statement to the New York Times, in which the organization claimed responsibility for the tourist massacre, and warned of more violence to come. “We tell the apostates who sit on the chest of Muslim Tunisia: Wait for the glad tidings of what will harm you, impure ones, for what you have seen today is the first drop of the rain, God willing,” the paper quoted the statement saying. “You will not enjoy security, nor be pleased with peace, while the Islamic State has men like these.”

There might also have been a warning shortly before the attack. A few hours before the gunmen opened fire at the museum, an ISIS supporter tweeted, “Coming good news to Tunisia’s Muslims,” according to Britain’s Daily Mail. The tweeter, whose handle is @riff0BA, promised “a shock to the disbelievers and the hypocrites, especially those who claim to be cultured.'” According to the Associated Press, two of the gunman involved in the attack left Tunisia in December and received weapons training in Libya.

When gunfire exploded on Wednesday afternoon, residents in Tunis could scarcely believe that their breezy seaside city was under a terrorist attack. Sayida Ounissi, 28, a member of parliament for the Islamist political party Ennahda, told TIME on Thursday that many of her colleagues in parliament at first brushed off the security alert, not believing that they might be in danger; the lawmakers were in session, discussing new anti-terrorism measures, when the gunmen attacked the nearby National Bardo Museum. “Despite all of the threats and assassinations, most of us living in the city think of terrorism as something happening outside, in Iraq and Libya,” Ounissi said, by phone from Tunis. “I was one of the rare people who took the alert seriously.” She quickly began to leave the parliament, followed by her colleagues.

That illusion of safety has been severely shaken. Indeed, Tunisian analysts believe that jihadist organizations see the country and its democratically elected government as a particularly juicy target. That is because Tunisia’s 2011 Jasmine Revolution sparked a wave of uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, emerging as the sole democracy from the Arab Spring.

Wedged between Algeria, where al-Qaeda affiliates are active, and unstable Libya, where ISIS is waging increasing attacks, tiny Tunisia seems highly vulnerable. Tunisian officials estimate that more than 3,000 citizens have fought with jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria over the past four years—making it one of the biggest sources of foreign fighters in the world. About 500 of them have since returned. Battle-trained, some could be planning to wage attacks at home. “We know very well that the Tunisia model is not to everyone’s satisfaction,” says Ounissi. “You have a Muslim democracy in a region with extremist organizations, who do not want freedom and democracy.”

Still, Wednesday’s attacks appeared to have inspired intense determination among Tunisians to protect their democratic revolution. After dark on Wednesday thousands of people poured into Tunis’s main boulevard, Avenue Habib Bouguiba, signing the national anthem and holding handwritten signs proclaiming that terrorism would not prevail. Others gathered in a candlelight vigil outside the Bardo Museum, shaken by the gruesome bloodshed on the city’s streets. “You can see the sense of shock on everyone’s faces,” says Jerry Sorkin, an American tour operator who has lived in Tunis for many years, and runs a cultural-tour company called TunisUSA. “People are not going to tolerate the violence,” he says, speaking by phone from the capital on Thursday. “They have gone so far in forming a democracy.”

Nonetheless, Wednesday’s attacks are likely to have a drastic effect on Tunisia, especially on the vital tourist industry, which has suffered since the Arab Spring. The travel industry makes up about seven percent of the country’s economy, and employs nearly 500,000 people. A two-hour flight from Paris, Tunisia’s sun-baked coastline drew millions of tourists before the revolution. Tunisia was hoping that this year’s summer would mark an upturn in tourists, many of whom have stayed away since 2011. But Sorkin says he had received several calls and emails since Wednesday from nervous clients who have booked tours to Tunisia. ” All we can tell them is, we really think this is an isolated situation,” he says.

Tunisians are hoping that is the case. On Thursday, Tunisia’s former Minister of Information Oussama Romdani, who served under Ben Ali, sent TIME an email titled simply, “how to help after the attack.” Inside was a photograph of a sunny Mediterranean beach, with the words: “Keep calm and visit Tunisia.”

TIME Tunisia

Tunisia Bloodshed Threatens to Undo Nation’s Progress

Attack that killed at least 20 foreigners could throw the nascent democracy into turmoil

In the worst attack on foreigners since the Arab revolutions erupted four years ago, more than 20 people were killed in Tunisia on Wednesday along with two of the country’s citizens, when gunmen stormed the country’s most important museum.

The attack, for which no group has yet taken responsibility, raises the prospect that the terrorist attacks that have become increasingly common elsewhere in the region could destabilize the sole democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring.

Early Wednesday afternoon, two gunmen armed with automatic weapons attacked the Bardo Museum in the capital, Tunis, and opened fire on tourists, before taking numerous foreigners hostage inside the museum. Some three hours later, police stormed the museum, killing the gunmen and freeing the hostages.

Tunisian officials said those killed were Polish, German, Spanish and Italian. Local television aired footage taken inside the museum, showing a group of tourists, seemingly under siege, sitting on the floor of an exhibition room below ancient mosaics. The building sits close to the country’s parliament, and early reports suggested the gunmen may also have attempted to enter that building.

Prime Minister Habib Essid — who took office only in January — went on television after security forces killed the gunmen. Grim-faced and clearly shaken, he told Tunisians that they needed to help face down militant groups. “The citizens, the army, are all responsible,” he said. “All of us must support the security forces to fight against this scourge.”

To some Tunisians, the attack in the tiny North African country seemed all too predictable. Although Tunisia is one of the few countries wracked by the Arab Spring uprisings to have successfully held peaceful elections — which it did in December — the regional upheaval has pummeled foreign investment, and Essid told parliament on Tuesday that unemployment among educated Tunisians was now around 30%. These are the kinds of conditions that helped bring thousands of people into the streets in 2011 to drive out Tunisia’s longtime dictator — but also the kinds that can drive a young, resentful population toward extremism.

Indeed, officials believe about 3,000 Tunisians have left the country to join jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, including ISIS, over the past four years. Tunisia’s most wanted terrorist, Ahmed al-Rouissi, was killed in Libya only two days ago, fighting with ISIS jihadists in the coastal city of Sirt. The government has long warned about the dangers the country faces as these battle-hardened fighters return home.

Militant groups in rural areas have staged attacks for several months on military personnel and police officers, killing several of them. Essid told parliament just this week that police had uncovered several big weapons caches in the remote southern desert, and dismantled militant cells. On Monday, Tunisian police arrested 22 people in Kairouan, a small central city, for allegedly recruiting locals for jihadist training and then sending them across Tunisia’s eastern border into Libya, which is wracked by militant violence and rising ISIS activity. Many believed it was only a matter of time before this violence spread to the country’s capital.

Early reports suggested that the attack might have been well planned and carefully timed. At the moment the gunmen attacked the parliament, lawmakers were debating a tough new antiterrorism law. The attack might also have timed in order to target foreigners, since Mediterranean cruise ships dock each Wednesday in Tunis’ La Goulette harbor. There, coach buses ferry tourists to the Bardo museum, which sits on the same downtown compound as the parliament building.

The fact that foreign tourists were killed seems sure to create major new problems for Tunisia, whose economy relies heavily on European visitors. For years, the country has been a favorite, close getaway for French tourists, with Paris a two-hour flight from its former colony, and with no laws banning alcohol or bikinis on the beaches. After the upheaval of the Arab Spring, many tourists stayed away. But in recent months Tunisian tourism posters in the Paris Metro have assured the French that they wanted them back in big numbers, and that the country was safe — a contrast, say, from other popular North African destinations like Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.

But it will be hard for officials to offer such assurances now. “This will be very, very bad for the country,” Mounir Khelifa, an English professor at Tunis’ Manoubia University, told TIME by phone shortly after the attack. “Tunisia has been hovering between hope and fear. Now, if the economy is hurt, there will probably be strikes and protests, and then who will care about building up democratic institutions?”

TIME France

How France’s Mania for Low-Cost Reality TV May Have Led to Fatal Helicopter Crash

A man stands near the smoking remains of a helicopter that crashed with another near Villa Castelli in the La Rioja province of Argentina, March 9, 2015.
Gabriel Gonzalez—AP A man stands near the smoking remains of a helicopter that crashed with another near Villa Castelli in the La Rioja province of Argentina, March 9, 2015.

Death of 10 in Argentine helicopter crash raises questions about safety culture

The 10 people who were killed in a helicopter crash on Monday while filming a French reality TV show in Argentina were not the first people to die in a production by Adventure Line Productions (ALP).

Two years ago, Gérald Babin, 25, died of a heart attack in Cambodia during a shoot for Koh-Lanta, an ALP adventure show, in which participants have to survive on an uninhabited island by competing for food through demanding physical challenges. Six days after Babin’s death, the show’s French location doctor Thierry Costa killed himself, leaving a note saying that media reports suggesting he might have saved Babin’s life had driven him to suicide.

The circumstances in which two Argentinian pilots, five French production staff and three French sporting heroes died in a two-helicopter crash 720 miles south of Buenos Aires are quite different but have prompted concerns about reality TV shows and the financial culture of the media companies that make them. As the French absorbed the details of the tragedy, some claimed that production companies like ALP had set up the potential for errors after years of saving on safety and labor expenses, in favor of offering ever-more risky adventures for TV audiences.

Paris lawyer Jérémie Assous told the French news site Le Point on Tuesday that French courts had found ALP guilty of 300 counts of “breaches of labor law and safety obligations.” Assous has successfully sued ALP in recent years on behalf of hundreds of reality-show participants, claiming that they were obliged to work 20-hour days, the production company had confiscated their passports and telephones while filming in remote locations, and shut off their Internet access. Yet despite the fact that French judges had repeatedly fined the company, “the amount of fines, even if it rises steadily to tens of thousands of euros, is not commensurate with the millions saved by not complying with the law,” Assous said.

Indeed, the profits are huge in reality TV and help broadcast networks invest in their nonlucrative news divisions. French channel TF1 bought the broadcast rights to Koh-Lanta for about €12 million ($13 million), and earns about €25 million ($27 million) a year in advertising revenue, according to Le Point.

The show being filmed in Argentina was Dropped, a French adaptation of a Swedish reality show that was due to launch this year on TF1. Much like the U.S. reality show Survivor, the series drops teams of adventurers — in this case sporting celebrities — blindfolded into a remote area, leaving them to find their way back to civilization without the help of GPS or telephones. “Two teams are dropped into the middle of nowhere,” says the promotional video on YouTube, over suspenseful music. “No food. No map. No help.”

And also, perhaps, too little safety. On Tuesday, an ALP staff member told Le Point that offering top-class safety provisions for the show’s participants would increase the costs of production about threefold. “If we scrupulously respect work rights, shooting costs would explode,” said the employee. “Safety is not a major issue for the production company.”

Among those killed on Monday were swimmer Camille Muffat, 25, who won both a gold and a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics in London; boxer Alexis Vastine, 28, who won the light-welterweight bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008; and the sailor Florence Arthaud, 57, who had gained fame in her early 30s as the first woman ever to win the solo trans-Atlantic race called the Route du Rhum. “Between incredulity and horror,” said the front page of Tuesday evening’s Le Monde newspaper. “French sport is in mourning.”

President François Hollande told reporters that the accident was “a cause of immense sadness.” One of the surviving Dropped participants, Sylvain Wiltord, a former soccer player for London’s Arsenal club, tweeted, “I am sad for my friends, I’m shaking, I’m horrified, I don’t have the words, I don’t want to say anything.” And William Forgues, the boyfriend of the dead swimmer Muffat, told the news site Le Parisien, “She was very happy and it was 100% her choice to be there. She loved that kind of program.”

TIME isis

How ISIS Sprung Up in Libya

An armed motorcade belonging to members of Derna's Islamic Youth Council, seen in Derna, eastern Libya on Oct. 3, 2014.
Reuters An armed motorcade belonging to members of Derna's Islamic Youth Council, seen in Derna, eastern Libya on Oct. 3, 2014.

"We are in a state of 'my enemy's enemy' is my friend.' So that will allow these groups to thrive"

The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) flourished in the vacuum created by the civil war in Syria. More recently it has found a similarly fertile environment in Libya.

The elected government in Tripoli collapsed last August after a coalition of militias called Libya Dawn drove it out of the capital and took control. The deposed government fled to Tobruk, 800 miles to the east, close to the Egyptian border. The rival governments in Tobruk and Tripoli, supported by regional militias, have fought a civil war ever since.

Many veterans of Libya’s first civil war against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi travelled on to join the uprising against Bashar Assad in Syria in 2011. An estimated 1,000 and 3,000 Libyans fought with a variety of rebel groups, but many have since joined ISIS.

Last year, a group of around 300 Libyan ISIS veterans returned to Derna on the country’s Mediterranean coast as the civil war continued. In October, ISIS took over most of the city and declared its allegiance to the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They were joined in their pledge by Ansar al-Sharia, the extremist group that killed U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens on September 11, 2012.

READ MORE: Inside ISIS, a TIME Special Report

On Feb. 15, ISIS released a video of its Libyan fighters beheading 21 Egyptian Christians who were kidnapped while working in Libya. The video showed the men’s blood coloring the waves of Mediterranean Sea red while the lead executioner said: “We will conquer Rome, by the will of Allah.”

Libya’s proximity to Europe is one of the major attractions for ISIS, though hardly the only one. The country has Africa’s biggest proven oil reserves, with an estimated 48 billion barrels, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration—something sure to entice ISIS, which has been selling oil from its conquered territory in Iraq and Syria. And Libya also has giant stockpiles of weapons left over from the rule of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was one of the world’s major arms buyers in his final years in power. Much of that weaponry—including surface-to-air missiles—has been smuggled to Mali, Chad and Niger and seized by the militias who control large areas of Libya.

Bassam Ghellal, the Libyan managing director of Whispering Bell, a Dubai-based security risk consultancy, believes that for ISIS, controlling the Libyan oil industry is far more difficult than in Syria. “Even if they took it [oil facilities] over it will be quite difficult for them. You would have to take over a very large piece of land, fields, pipes, and control the flow of oil.” Libyan oil production, which accounts for about 95% of the country’s economy has fallen from 1.6 million barrels a day before the 2011 to about 300,000 barrels a day. Much of the drop has been caused by the civil war, not because of ISIS, which has only carried out minor attacks on oil facilities. As for ISIS fighters, Ghellal says, “right now they appear and disappear and have not become a direct threat ” to oil production.

Ghellal says that ISIS’s tactics in Libya are very different from those in Iraq, as demonstrated by the theatrical but brutal beheading video. “It is a shock and awe tactic, proving their presence and showing they are a threat,” he says. “It’s a message to the West, rather than building revenue and expanding in the country. Their modus operandi is very different.”

As long as there is civil war in Libya, ISIS will be able to maintain a foothold in the country. Ghellal believes that unless talks—so far floundering—between Libya Dawn and the elected government succeed, tackling ISIS’s growth in Libya will be very difficult, for example through foreign intervention. “There are two options for Libya, and I don’t believe there is a third one: To have two opposing governments work together. Right now, we are in a state of ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend.’ So that will allow these groups to thrive.”

TIME France

French Jews Rocked by 2 New Anti-Semitic Incidents

France Terrorism
Lionel Cironneau—AP Soldiers stand guard after an attacker with a knife hidden in his bag attacked three soldiers on an antiterrorism patrol in front of a Jewish community center in Nice, France, on Feb. 3, 2015

A man attacked guards at a Jewish school and an agency appealed for workers who are not Jewish

Less than a month after the Paris attacks that left 17 dead, two incidents this week have deepened anxieties among French Jews about rising anti-Semitism in France.

First on Monday, a graphic-design studio in Paris posted an ad on a job-search website, calling for applicants who were “if possible not Jewish.” Then on Tuesday, a man wielding an 8-in. knife lunged at a group of soldiers guarding the Jewish Community Center in the southern French city of Nice, wounding at least two of them.

While the incidents were unconnected, they have heightened a sense of vulnerability among France’s 500,000 or so Jews. They come at a sensitive time, as the community tries to comprehend last month’s hostage siege at a kosher supermarket in Paris, in which a gunman claiming allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria shot dead four French Jews. “There are a few thousand people with prejudices against Jews,” says Roger Cukierman, president of the French Jewish representative council, or CRIF. “We are very worried.”

The job announcement from a company called NSL Studio appeared on a website for graphic designers, and listed an eight-point set of preferences for its applicants, including those familiar to most job seekers, like being highly motivated and well organized. The third point, however, said simply “si possible pas juif,” — if possible not Jewish — with no explanation. Stunned at the ad, one graphic designer took a screenshot of it on her mobile phone and posted it to her Facebook site, from where it quickly spread widely online. “I had to reread the ad two or three times to see that it was not a joke,” the graphic designer, named only as Anne-Sophie, told the French news site LesInrocks.com.

NSL Studio removed the ad shortly after and posted an apology on the company’s website on Tuesday, saying it had filed an official complaint with prosecutors, in an effort “to determine who was responsible for the [advertisement’s] publication.” The job-search website, meanwhile, posted a similar message on its homepage, condemning the ad and saying that its staff had deleted it as soon as they became aware of it.

Still, the attempts to smooth over the outrage appeared hollow to some. LeInrocks.com said that in a call to NSL Studio while the job ad was still online, a staff member told its reporters that the phrase “if possible not Jewish” had been included because of the company’s erratic work schedules. “So we wanted someone who does not have these cultural or religious concerns,” the news site quoted the company as saying.

Shortly after, NSL Studio tweeted that a hacker had changed the ad without its knowledge. To some, it sounded unconvincing. “I imagine that the person who let this ad through without checking did not know that this was illegal,” says Dominique Sopo, president of the antiracism organization SOS Racisme. The group filed a separate complaint with prosecutors on Tuesday, claiming racial discrimination, a crime under French law. “It is important to remind people that this is illegal,” says Sop.

In the eyes of French Jews, the attack in Nice appeared far more serious than the uproar over the job ad. The potential for violence has made the entire issue of French Jews’ security an urgent subject of debate. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told French Jews that Israel would welcome them “with open arms” as immigrants. And in an emotional address to Jewish leaders last week, French President François Hollande told them, “Your place is here.”

On Tuesday afternoon the man pulled out a knife outside Nice’s Jewish center, where a group of soldiers stood guard at the door. In the wake of last month’s attack on the kosher supermarket, French officials deployed about 20,000 soldiers to guard Jewish stores and schools across the country. The attacker struck one of the military guards on the chin, then struck another one on the forearm, and a third on the cheek, according to the Associated Press.

He then fled on foot and was caught by police. Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi said on television the man was carrying an identity card with the name Moussa Coulibaly. That is the same family name — common in Mali — as Amedy Coulibaly, who attacked the supermarket on Jan. 9.

While Tuesday’s attack was not fatal, it nonetheless heightened the sense of nervousness among France’s Jewish leaders, who have said in recent months that the country faces a growing threat from homegrown jihadists, like those who mounted the attacks on the Brussels Jewish Center last year, and on a Jewish nursery school in Toulouse in 2012. “All the actors are French-born citizens who went through the public schools,” says Cukierman. Combating the threat, he says, will require “many things. We need education, we need police, we need security, we need justice.”

Read next: It’s Time to Stop Ignoring the New Wave of Anti-Semitism

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME europe

European Police Face Being Outgunned by Jihadists With Assault Rifles

Firearms seized from a gang of arms smugglers displayed at Federal Police headquarters in Brussels in 2011.
Thierry Roge—Reuters Firearms seized from a gang of arms smugglers displayed at federal police headquarters in Brussels in 2011

Police pistols are no match for assault rifles like those carried by the Paris gunmen

When Chérif and Saïd Kouachi attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, killing 12 people, they were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and could easily outgun the police officers who tried to apprehend them with pistols. Their associate, Amedy Coulibaly, had an even greater collection of military-grade weapons.

The size of the trio’s armory has prompted an urgent inquiry into the scale of gun smuggling in Europe, where weapons are smuggled into the European Union from the countries of former Yugoslavia, Albania and elsewhere and then moved without any further border checks to where they will get the best price. Most of the smuggling is carried out by criminal gangs but many jihadists such as Coulibaly are well connected with criminal networks.

Despite the Paris attacks, it seems the weapons are still flowing freely through Europe. Brian Donald, chief of staff for Europol, which coordinates cross-border actions among police forces in the E.U.’s 28 countries, says there have been two “large seizures” of assault weapons in Europe during the past two weeks, but would not give details about where they were, since the investigations were still ongoing. In all, he says police had seized “several vanloads of 30 or 40 weapons at a time,” during the past few weeks, including “AK-47s, Scorpions, handguns and semiautomatic rifles.”

The Kouachis had rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. On Jan. 8, Coulibaly fatally shot a policewoman with a Scorpion submachine gun in the Paris suburb of Montrouge. The day after that, he used a 7.62-mm Tokarev rifle, a Soviet-designed weapon, to kill five hostages in a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris. His posthumous video also showed him with a Kalashnikov AK-47. Earlier this month, a Belgian newspaper reported that Coulibaly had bought most of the weapons from a Belgian criminal for €5,000 (about $5,647). Coulibaly, a French-born Muslim with Malian parents, made the deal near the Brussels Midi train station, a major railway hub that connects Western Europe’s biggest cities, after taking out a €6,000 loan from the French financial services firm Cofidis using false information about his income, which went unchecked.

But although the police quickly traced the weapons source in the Paris attacks, stopping criminals and other jihadist cells in Europe from acquiring assault weapons for further attacks might not be so easy, according to police officials.

Many of the weapons circulating in Europe hail from southeastern Europe, where big military arsenals were left abandoned during the collapse of Yugoslavia and the Balkan wars of the 1990s. At least a million other weapons are believed to have been looted during an outbreak of anarchy in Albania in 1997. “There are stockpiles in the Balkans of 2 [million] to 3 million [weapons] left over from the 1990s, available for recycling,” says Donald.

French police believe rifles are on sale in French cities for between €1,000 and €1,500. Earlier this month, Philippe Capon, head of the French police union UNSA, told Bloomberg News, “The French black market for weapons has been inundated with eastern European war artillery and arms.” A French police source told TIME that the weapons from the Charlie Hebdo attack came from the Balkans.

That is not the only source of weaponry. Donald says he fears that the continent might be facing a fresh influx of weapons from North Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring revolts. In August, 2011, Libyan rebels looted large quantities of mortars, tank shells and other munitions when Moammar Gaddafi’s regime collapsed. Although most of those weapons are believed to have filtered across North and West Africa, some could also have made their way to Europe.

The arms traffickers have flourished in the absence of well-financed antiweapons units in Europe, where law enforcement has for years tended to plow money into stopping drug-dealing and other crimes. “We don’t fully understand the scale of the problem because we have not had specialized units,” says Donald, referring to law-enforcement agencies in different E.U. countries. “It is a question of priorities. Any police officer will tell you it [resources] is a constant struggle.”

The trade in illegal weapons can earn enormous profits for organized criminal gangs — enough to make the risk of capture worthwhile. Donald says recent investigations have found arms traffickers investing about €30,000 in a shipment of Balkan-era weapons, refurbishing them in their garages, then selling them for them for about 10 times the price. “That’s a huge mark-up,” he says.

As Europe struggles to crack down on illegal weapons, some police recruits face a new training exercise: Go buy a Kalashnikov rifle. Donald says that in “a city in Europe,” which he would not name, “very young officers with no training or experience” were recently told to go find an assault weapon on the streets from an illegal arms dealer. “One came back two hours later with an AK-47,” Donald says. “He bought it for €1,000.”

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