TIME europe

Europeans Fear for the Security of their Rail System After Attempted Terrorist Attack

Free movement has been a cornerstone of European integration

For days, Europeans have hailed the courage of three American tourists — two of them off-duty military personnel — who tackled a lone gunman aboard a high-speed train in northern France last Friday, thwarting a terrorist attack that could have ended with dozens of dead and injured. But even that tale of bravery can not block out the worry: What about the next time?

For Europe, the details emerging about what happened on the Amsterdam-Paris train deepened the sense of vulnerability of the continent. And while European Union governments now vow to tighten security, the quick responses of citizens will likely be essential in averting more attacks. “It ultimately depends on the individual responsibility of men and women capable of doing the right thing under the circumstances,” French President François Hollande said on Monday, during a medal ceremony awarding the country’s highest distinction, the Legion of Honor, to the American train passengers Spencer Scott, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler, as well as British business consultant Christopher Norman, all of whom fought the gunmen. Standing in the ornate Elysée Palace, Hollande told the men that their actions were “an example, a sort of inspiration for all of us.”

Beyond inspiration, E.U. officials are grappling with how badly their security systems have failed — or whether the potential for an attack is due in part to the fact that 500 million E.U. citizens can cross the continent without any identity or passport checks. Ayoub El-Khassini, the 26-year old Morocco born suspected terrorist,was able to board the train at Brussels with a Kalashnikov rifle, a pistol, a box-cutter and more than 300 rounds of ammunition, without baggage or identity checks.

For years, the E.U.’s 28 governments have tried to balance the advantages of easy mobility around the continent — a core principle of the union — with the risks it entails. After the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January, which killed 17 people, France posted soldiers and policemen outside tourist sites like the Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum, as well as in airport terminals and many major railway stations.

Yet Friday’s attempted attack suggested there are glaring holes, especially on Europe’s extensive high-speed rail network. Those trains — a source of great pride and affection for many Europeans — are crucial to the E.U. economy and to the continent’s lifestyle. They have made international travel routine for Europeans, who buy affordable tickets at the last minute, as if they were taking a short bus ride. Many French officials, for example, shuttle between Paris and the E.U. headquarters in Brussels, a 90-minute ride on the same rail line as Friday’s near attack. In Brussels, passengers can use their tickets for any scheduled departure that day. And unlike airline routes, some of the trains linking major cities stop at countless small towns along the way.

Imposing tight security on the system seems impossible to many officials, even though it exists for all flights in Europe and all trains between the continent and the United Kingdom, which opted out of the Schengen Agreements on free movement within the E.U. French transportation officials say they do not envision airport-style baggage or identity control, and that they are far more likely to begin random checks of bags and passengers. “Stations are public spaces,” Christophe Piednoël, spokesman for the French railway company SNCF said, quoted in Monday’s Liberation newspaper. “We cannot ask the French to wait one hour before boarding a train. And anyway, 15,000 trains cross France every day and traverse 3,000 stations.”

Then there is security within the stations themselves. Even if Khassini had decided not to launch his attack aboard the train, he could easily have slipped his weapons into Paris, once the train pulled into the city’s Gare du Nord terminal.

Since the January attacks in Paris, French soldiers have patrolled the Gare du Nord with rifles and sniffer dogs, part of the contingent of 7,000 soldiers the government has deployed in train stations since the Paris attacks. Yet their small numbers are virtually lost amid the huge crowds.

Extending strict security for travel around the continent seems unlikely. Instead, as Hollande suggested on Monday, Europeans will need to hope for the courage of people like Skarlatos, Stone and Sadler; for Skarlatos, an Oregon Army National Guardsman recently back from serving in Afghanistan, and Stone, a US Airman 1st Class, combat-ready reflexes seemed to kick in as soon as they spotted Khassini in their train car. “It was not really a conscious decision,” Skarlatos told reporters on Sunday evening. “We just decided to act… It was gut instinct.”




U.S. and International Businesses Eye an Iranian ‘Gold Mine’ After Nuclear Deal

Lifting sanctions could unfreeze $150 billion of Iranian money and open borders for business

Even before the crowds on Tehran’s streets staggered home on Tuesday night from partying to celebrate the nuclear deal, Iranians and Americans were both assessing the mammoth new potential for business in the country, once U.S. and European Union sanctions that have been in place for decades are dismantled. Iran has around $150 billion frozen in international banks, which when sanctions are lifted will begin filtering into the domestic and international economy.

It could still be months, maybe years, before Iranians sip Starbucks coffee or buy American SUVs at home. First will come the fierce political battle in Washington, where Republican lawmakers have vowed to block the deal in Congress. Both Iran’s Parliament and the U.N. Security Council also have to approve the details, which came after 18 months of tough negotiations between the US, Iran, China, Russia, Britain, France, Germany, and E.U. officials.

But assuming that all happens, business executives and investors say the potential in Iran is enormous. Among its population of about 77 million, Iran has a large number of well-educated, tech-savvy youth with close ties to relatives in places like Los Angeles and London, and a fervent desire to end their generation’s isolation. Among those Iranians — many of whom will have money to spend — American companies in particular stand to do well, say investment analysts, ironically boosted by the pariah status the U.S. has had since the 1979 revolution. “Iranians love American products,” says Amir Ali Handjani, an Iranian-American energy executive based between New York and Dubai. “They will always prefer to do business with Americans and to buy Americans products than others, because they’ve been told that America is bad for 35 years, and that makes them want them more.”

Indeed, even under sanctions, Iphones, for example, have been ubiquitous on the streets of wealthier Iranian neighborhoods, many of them bought during shopping trips to nearby Dubai, a two-hour flight from Tehran, or simply from unlicenced dealers in Iran. Until now, sanctions have blocked Apple, like other U.S. companies, from trading directly with Iran, a fact that the company seems eager to change. Last year senior Apple executives in London met with Iranian distributors to discuss how to enter the market once a nuclear deal was signed, according to the Wall Street Journal.

But Apple is hardly alone in scouting rich prospects. In recent months, as the nuclear talks began to seem like they might succeed, American and European executives have rushed to Tehran to meet business people and to try position themselves to open operations there once sanctions end. “We’ve hosted more than 180 foreign investor delegations over the last 18 months, mostly from the E.U. but also from the U.S.,” says Ramin Rabii, CEO of Turquoise Partners, an investment services firm in Tehran by telephone. “We’ve seen a lot of venture capital companies come from the U.S.”

At this point, almost every sector is rich pickings for Western business. Decades of U.S. sanctions, and nearly a decade of E.U. sanctions, have led to big trade with Chinese, Korean and Russian companies. But those are still seen as far inferior, Rabii says. “There is a general perception that it is easier to do business with Americans than with Chinese or Russians,” Rabii says, adding that in many of Iran’s family-owned conglomerates, which have existed for generations, there is still a strong memory of having worked with U.S. companies before the 1979 revolution ended the Shah’s rule and brought the Islamic Republic to power.

Immediately after Iran and Western leaders signed the nuclear deal on Tuesday, the French automaker Peugeot told the Wall Street Journal that the company was deep in talks with Iran Khodro, a local automaker, to start manufacturing cars in Iran. Until 2011, Iran produced a 1.6 million cars a year, and until 2012 the country was Peugeot’s second-biggest market outside France. It abandoned its operation there after GM, which owns a small stake in Peugeot, pressured the company to leave. Now, that pressure is off — and GM itself will likely try to muscle in on Iran’s market.

But other industries are also eyeing major business — including hotels and aviation — in a country that in desperate need of overhauling almost every industry. More than one U.S. hotel chain has visited Tehran during the past few months, and found a wide-open market with huge pent-up demand. There is not a single hotel of international standing in all of Iran, for example, since major chains like Marriott and Hilton have been shut out since the 1970s. “We have not had any internationally-managed hotels for four decades,” says Rabii, who has met with U.S. hotel chains, but would not name them. “We will have a flood of tourists and business people coming to Iran. We can fill hotels for years, or decades.”

Iran is also planning to upgrade its airplanes after decades. Since sanctions shut out the two dominant airplane manufacturers, the U.S.’s Boeing and Europe’s Airbus, Iran has hobbled along, buying second-hand airplanes for its national airline Iran Air or fixing their own aging fleet, whose airplanes are an average age of 27 years. Last year Iran Air CEO Farhad Parvaresh told Reuters that it urgently needed about 100 new planes, and would buy them from China or Russia if Western sanctions did not end soon. As it looked like sanctions would indeed end sometime soon, Iran’s Transport Minister Abbas Akhoundi traveled to the Paris Air Show in June, and told reporters the country would spend about $20 billion buying about 400 new planes in the next decade. Still, Boeing’s regional communications director Fakher Daghestani said in a statement the company would have to wait for the U.S. government to tell them whether they could sell planes to Iran. Until then, “it would be premature to comment.”

Not so for other business people. Handjani, the energy executive, says he expects “second and third tier” U.S. companies to open Iran operations first. By contrast, major publicly traded corporations could hold back, waiting to see if the nuclear deal unfolds without great problems, especially since any collapse of the nuclear deal could mean a forced exit for companies. “We won’t see Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan in Iran, not for many years,” Handjani said.

TIME Wonders of the World

Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower Looks to Set a Record

Iwan Baan At 830 m from base to tip, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building—for now.

Meet the architect behind the planet’s tallest towers

If you take the world’s longest elevator ride up the world’s tallest building and venture out on the world’s highest outdoor observation deck, the sensation is a bit like being on an airplane that is idling midair to allow passengers to peer down at the earth. The term bird’s-eye view hardly describes it, since the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai—452 m above the ground—is higher than the cruising altitude of many birds. Walking out on to the deck, Adrian Smith, the architect who designed the Burj, stands stunned at the crowds of tourists snapping photographs of the view. “Wow, it is great to see all these people here,” says Smith, who is back at the Burj for the first time since it opened in 2010. “This place is busy.”

Five years after it debuted with Dubai-style gaudiness, including a giant fireworks display, the Burj has become a magnet for the roughly 1.5 million people a year who shell out $54 for tickets to the observation deck, perhaps to contemplate how this gravity-defying building stays upright. From its base to the tip of its spire, the Burj is 830 m—almost double the height of the Empire State Building.

And yet the Burj will likely hold on to its title for only a few more years at most. The scramble to build higher has accelerated so fast in recent years that skyscrapers that awed us last century barely warrant a mention today. Just 15 years ago, buildings higher than 200 m were extraordinary, and there were only 263 of them in the world. By 2012 there were nearly triple that number. Currently, there are about 10 buildings under way that will be higher than 500 m, which is higher than the world’s tallest building in 2003, Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Twin Towers. More than the expression of intricate engineering, the supertall towers have become an outsized shortcut to global importance. “If you want to be a serious city, you have to show you are serious,” says Alejandro Stochetti, a director of Smith’s company, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. “For that, you need an iconic building.”

And if you want that iconic, sky-­scraping skyscraper, Adrian Smith is your man. Smith is among a small club of architects who design record-tall buildings­—though you wouldn’t know if from meeting the 70-year-old. About the only thing that marks the soft-­spoken Midwesterner as a “starchitect” is his trademark all-black outfit. Smith offers no gushing commentary about his buildings, preferring the results to speak for themselves. He says he has held a passion for tall buildings since at least the age of 13, when he began sketching 40-story towers—­buildings that would have been hugely tall in the 1950s. “No kids drew that,” he says, laughing.

More than a half-century on, Smith is nowhere near done. He spent decades at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) in Chicago, where he began by working on the 459-m (base to tip) Hancock Tower before leaving to start his own firm in that city in 2006. The timing was good: Burj Khalifa, which he designed while at SOM, was being built, and oil-rich countries like the United Arab Emirates had plenty of money to spend. Smith hooked clients in China and the Persian Gulf who were eager to have him try to break his record.

When Smith met TIME in Dubai one evening in June, he had just come from signing a deal across town to design what will be world’s tallest office building (the Burj’s 163 floors have apartments and the Armani Hotel), which will anchor a new mega-development near Dubai’s boat marina, timed to open when the World Expo is held here in 2020. Though the new building’s height is a secret, he says the Burj will remain taller. Yet Smith will design offices all the way up, rather than pad out its final height—as the Burj and many others do—with a needle-like spire and top floors too narrow for use.

Then there is Smith’s most extreme project yet: Kingdom Tower in Jidda, Saudi Arabia. When it opens in 2019, it will be the first building ever to exceed 1 km. Its vast interior will have 59 elevators­—five of them double-deck so they can stop at two floors at once—that will travel at speeds designed to prevent ears popping. Financed by the Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the tower will anchor a new suburb of Jidda, called Kingdom City, which the Saudis hope will draw millions of pilgrims traveling to nearby Mecca and Medina.

Although Smith says there were few dramatically new technical challenges involved in reaching this height, supertall buildings do not come cheap: the Burj’s final cost was about $1.5 billion. Construction can also drag on for years. Kingdom Tower’s workers spent more than a year simply digging a foundation strong enough to support its structure, which will have 157 occupiable floors and use about 80,000 tons of steel. “These buildings are massive efforts,” Smith says.

Still, the drive to build upward continues, in part because supertall buildings can transform an entire city. The Burj stands in what was a decade ago a quiet area on the wrong side of town. Now it anchors what’s known as Downtown Dubai, with a massive shopping mall, five-star hotels and office towers. Tom Cruise even scampered up its side in the film Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol. But such supertall buildings rarely pay off financially; the Burj itself has had trouble filling up. “There are a number of reasons people try to build very tall. First is ego,” Smith says. “Someone says, ‘I just want to build it, and I am rich enough.’ It is for bragging rights.”

But if there is no limit to human vanity, is there one for skyscrapers? Possibly not. Smith keeps a scale model of a building 1 mile (1.6 km) high that he and his team recently designed. That is almost twice the height of the Burj, or nearly four Empire State Buildings stacked on top of one another. It is hard to imagine anyone living at such altitudes, and Smith says the model was “pure research.” Yet he concluded that if someone is willing to pay billions for it, a mile-high building is feasible.

The major technical challenge for super­tall buildings is wind, which tends to push into structures and accelerate upward­—what engineers call the stack effect. That can cause full-on motion sickness for dwellers on triple-digit floors. To break the vortex, Smith designed Kingdom Tower with a sloping exterior, and the Burj as a series of uneven steps with a Y-shaped bottom. From afar the Burj looks like a thin, jagged stalagmite shooting out of the earth.

The other problem is less obvious: ­elevators. Beyond a certain length, elevator cables have been too thick to spool, requiring people to switch elevators once or twice to reach the top of the tallest buildings, which turns a trip to the lobby into a commute. Yet even that problem could soon be solved. The Finnish company Kone recently unveiled a lightweight, carbon­-fiber rope that will be capable of lifting people all the way up Kingdom Tower in a single elevator ride.

Smith believes the most likely roadblock ahead for even taller towers is not engineering, but money. A mile-high building would have about 600,000 sq m of space, double the Burj. “The biggest challenge would be filling it,” Smith says. “It would need a really thriving economy.” With oil prices down since they dreamed up Kingdom Tower, the Saudis could struggle to sell out their own building. Yet that might not deter others. “If the Saudis have a higher building, then definitely Dubai will make one even higher,” says Abdulaziz Rsheadat, of the Burj Khalifa’s protocol department. “We have to be the world’s tallest.”

The more worrying question is whether the earth can sustain this mania for height. On the one hand, supertall buildings can spur public transportation that might never be built without it; one of Dubai’s rapid-transit Metro lines was completed four months after the Burj opened in 2010. And they also save space by building up rather than out. That’s an advantage in a dense city like Hong Kong or Tokyo, though less so in comparatively empty Dubai. Putting 5,000 tenants in one gigantic tower requires a footprint of about 2 hectares, compared with 12 hectares if they were spread out in three-story buildings. “You can save that land for other uses,” Smith argues. “You can put photovoltaics [solar panels] on it, or wind turbines, or agriculture.”

But the reality is that supertall towers are energy-sucking machines. Keeping the Burj lit and cool takes the equivalent of as much as 360,000 100-watt lightbulbs and about 10,000 tons of melting ice. And although supertall towers save land, they actually waste living space inside. “They are about 70 to 75% efficient,” Smith says. “The rest [of the building] is devoted to corridors and circulation that you do not need in a low-rise building.”

These towers, however, were never meant for efficiency, but rather for awe, and even shock. And so there will likely always be demand for new ones. As the sun sets outside the Burj, Smith leads me into one of its three lobby areas to show me a favorite design flourish: a backlit wall extending about 15 m up, with dozens of smoked-glass panels that send a warm yellow glow up the interior walls of the building when the lights behind them are switched on. The wall is unlit, however. At Smith’s request, building staff scurry around trying to find the right switch. Finally, after about 20 minutes, they find it. The panels light up, and the building glows. But it is a rare treat. “They usually leave it off,” Smith says, disappointed. “It uses too much energy.”


Kingdom Tower Looks to Set New Records

Iwan Baan At 830 m from base to tip, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building—for now.

When it comes to new ultra-tall buildings, the sky is the limit

The Chicago Architect Adrian Smith has made a career out of designing extreme skyscrapers, including the tallest building in the world today: Dubai’s 2,722-ft. Burj Khalifa. But he’s about to top himself. Smith and his partner Gordon Gill are behind Kingdom Tower, currently being constructed in Jidda, Saudi Arabia. When it opens in 2019, it will be the first building ever to exceed 1 km, or nearly 3,300 ft. Its vast interior will have 59 elevators–five of them double-deck so they can stop at two floors at once. It will have 157 occupiable floors and use about 80,000 tons of steel. Financed by the Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the tower will anchor a new suburb of Jidda, called Kingdom City, which the Saudis hope will draw millions of pilgrims traveling to nearby Mecca and Medina.

Kingdom Tower is expected to cost $1.23 billion, though it wouldn’t be surprising if that number rises–the Burj cost $1.5 billion. The building probably won’t pay off financially–the Burj has had trouble filling its floors, and Saudi Arabia’s economy has taken a hit from falling oil prices. But supertall towers generally aren’t built for financial reasons. “Someone says, ‘I just want to build it, and I am rich enough,'” says Smith. “It is for bragging rights.”

So if there is no limit to human vanity, is there one for skyscrapers? Possibly not. Smith keeps a scale model of a building 1 mile high that he and his team recently designed. That is almost twice the height of the Burj Khalifa, or nearly four Empire State Buildings stacked on top of one another. It is hard to imagine anyone living at such altitudes, and Smith says the model was “pure research.” Yet he concluded that if someone is willing to pay billions for it, a mile-high building is perfectly feasible. And if there’s anything to be learned from the history of skyscrapers, it’s this: if it can be built, it someday will.


This appears in the July 20, 2015 issue of TIME.
TIME Tunisia

Terror-Struck Tunisia Fears Fighters Coming From Libya

Flowers are placed at the beach next to the Imperial Marhaba Hotel where 38 people were killed yesterday in a terrorist attack on June 27, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia.
Jeff J Mitchell—Getty Images Flowers are placed on June 27, 2015, at the beach next to the Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Sousse, Tunisia, where 38 people were killed in a terrorist attack a day earlier

The country that started the Arab Spring casts a wary eye at its neighbor after two bloody attacks

The two massacres were 90 miles and more than three months apart. Yet there was much in common between last week’s devastating killing on a Mediterranean resort beach in Tunisia, which killed 38 mostly British people, and the mass shooting last March in the country’s premier cultural institution, the Bardo National Museum in the capital Tunis, which killed 22 people — almost all Europeans.

Both targeted Western travelers, and both seemed aimed at wreaking havoc on the country’s crucial tourist industry, which provides some 20% of its income. And there was one other commonality too: Tunisian officials say the two gunmen in March, and the lone gunman in Sousse, all received terrorist training not in their tiny home country — but in Tunisia’s huge oil-rich next-door neighbor, Libya.

Western governments have anguished in recent days over the fact that armed militants appear to have taken root in Tunisia, which they regard as the sole success story from the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011; a secular political party won Tunisia’s democratic election last December. Since the Bardo museum attack, Tunisian officials have ramped up efforts to arrest suspected jihadists and shut dozens of unauthorized mosques, where they believe imams are radicalizing local youth. Last Saturday in Sousse, the site of the beach-resort attack, Tunisian President Mohsen Marzouk told reporters that the government was “trying to organize people in the war against terror,” which he said was “not between terrorists and the state, but between terrorists and the people.” The militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the museum attack, and this week, friends of the Sousse gunman, Seifeddine Rezgui, told the Financial Times that Rezgui had posted his allegiance to ISIS on his Facebook page.

Yet for all the hand-wringing over what to do about Tunisia’s militants, many believe that the key to averting more attacks lies not at home, but in Libya. There, regional analysts say, ISIS-affiliated organizations continue to operate unimpeded, offering training to terrorist operatives in how to conduct attacks elsewhere in the region. “They [ISIS affiliates] have identified Libya as their foothold in North Africa,” Matthew Sinkez, regional risk manager for Whispering Bell, a security consultant for companies operating in North Africa, said from his base in Dubai this week. In Libya, he said, “they have the ability to train people and further destabilize neighboring countries.”

The reasons are clear: nearly four years after Libya’s militia drove out Muammar Gaddafi and collapsed his 40-year dictatorship, the country has been beset by warring factions fighting for power. One group of militias called Libya Dawn seized the capital Tripoli last August, in a battle that destroyed the city’s airport and drove the internationally recognized leaders out of the capital, into internal exile in the eastern city of Tobruk. Since then, Libya’s military chief General Khalifa Haftar — ousted from Tripoli — has led a military campaign against Tripoli’s forces, and against ISIS-affiliated groups.

For nine months, U.N.-brokered peace talks in Morocco have failed to cobble together a deal between the two groups, and to persuade them to form a unity government to share power in Tripoli. But last week’s Sousse attack has made it clear that a peace deal is urgent. The U.N. envoy to the talks, Spanish diplomat Bernardino León, told reporters on Monday that he hoped to have a deal by Thursday, since the two sides needed to settle “just two, three issues.”

But Leon’s view now appears far too optimistic. On Wednesday, Libya Dawn said in a statement that it would not accept the peace conditions, and that they believed the U.N. was attempting to foist on them a “fascist dictatorship.”

The other side of Libya’s conflict is no less uncompromising, saying it would not agree to share power with the Tripoli leaders. “A unity government with criminals and terrorists? No thank you,” Rami el-Obeidi, a former intelligence officer for the post-Gaddafi government in Tripoli, told TIME on Thursday. “Lay down your arms first and give them all to the army. Then we can talk.”

That lack of a peace deal in Libya leaves a dangerous vacuum in the country — and the continued possibility of further attacks elsewhere in the region. “The reality is that the longer the protracted dialogue goes on the longer ISIS militants can exploit the security situation,” Sinkez said. “That is at the heart of this: the failure to agree on a way forward.”

This year has made clear just how tragic the consequences are of Libya’s political impasse. Until recently, Tunisia was one of the biggest sources of foreign fighters to jihadist groups in Syria — by some estimates, about 2,500 Tunisians have fought with jihadist groups since the conflict erupted in 2011. But Sinkez said the Tunisian militants’ tactics appear to have shifted this year to staying closer to home. “Libya after the [2011] revolution was just a stopover point for people going to Syria,” he said. “But especially since 2015 rather than just going to fight against Bashar Assad, they are seeing a way to take a stronger role in North Africa.”

Libya still plays a key role, however. El-Obeidi, who travels in and out of eastern Libya, said he believes that as Haftar’s forces have increasingly waged attacks against ISIS positions, ISIS groups are moving around Libya, rather than basing themselves in fixed positions in the country’s vast southern desert. “They are mobile today,” he said. “To train people in shooting an Kalashnikov, and it give them some psychological training, that does not need a camp.”

TIME Crime

Terrorist Attacks Suggest a Change in ISIS Tactics

Killings in France, Tunisia and Kuwait could mean that ISIS is now attacking external targets as well as fighting for land in Iraq and Syria

In a day of terror and bloodshed on Friday, Islamist attackers possibly aligned with the Islamic State of Greater Iraq and Syria (ISIS), launched three separate assaults thousands of miles apart — in France, Tunisia and Kuwait — creating an impression that the group had adopted a new tactic of launching punitive external attacks rather than just focusing on state-building and territorial acquisition.

The attacks, which killed at least 54 people, had little obvious connection to one another except the assailants’ suspected inspiration from ISIS. Yet their rapid succession, one after the other, seemed more than a coincidence to some experts, who warned that it could become increasingly difficult for officials to ward off such threats. “It is very unusual to have three separate attacks on the same day,” Sujjan Gohel, a terrorism expert at the London School of Economics, told CNN. ISIS, he said, is “spreading the message, getting their doctrine out, encouraging followers.”

The day’s lethal attacks began shortly after 10 a.m. in France, when at least one man rammed their car into the plant of a U.S. industrial-gas company near the French city of Lyon, and then decapitated one man and scrawled Arabic writing on his severed head, according to police.

Within hours of that attack, at least one gunman opened fire on a beach packed with European tourists in Sousse, Tunisia killing at least 28 people. That assault came little more than three months after two ISIS gunmen killed 21 tourists, most of them European, at the Bardo Museum in the capital Tunis.

Kuwait suicide bombing
Yasser Al-Zayyat—AFP/Getty ImagesKuwaiti security forces gather outside the Shii’te Al-Imam al-Sadeq mosque after it was targeted by a suicide bombing during Friday prayers in Kuwait City, on June 26, 2015,

Shortly after that an attacker whom witnesses described as a man in his 20s entered a Shi’ite mosque in Kuwait City and blew himself up while people prayed killing at least 25. ISIS quickly claimed responsibility for that attack. If that is correct, Friday’s assault is the first the group has carried out in the Sunni countries of the Persian Gulf.

The anniversary of its declaration of a caliphate, or holy Islamic state, by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is on June 29. Since last June, there have been numerous attacks carried out in the name of the organization — some with just one attacker — in places as far afield as Copenhagen and Sydney.

Friday’s events come days after ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani urged supporters all over the world to turn the holy month of Ramadan into “a time of “calamity for the infidels … Shias and apostate Muslims.”

Since ISIS established itself in Syria in 2013, its fighters have focused on gaining territory and imposing their control on it. Unlike al-Qaeda, they have avoided attacks outside their immediate theatre of operation. But this week a group of ISIS fighters infiltrated the Kurish town of Kobane, which they were forced out of earlier this year. Their attack did appear to be part of a concerted effort to re-take it. Rather, the attack seemed punitive and left more than 120 Kurdish fighters and civilians dead.

The attacks in Kobane, France, Tunisia and Kuwait do not appear to have any military purpose and may suggest that ISIS has decided to pursue its war for territory in tandem with its war against the world of unbelievers, which includes almost everyone.

Police and security will increase their vigilance. On Friday, all seemed caught off guard — a sign of how difficult it is to avert terror attacks by an organization whose followers are scattered across the world, and who appear to act without any direct central command.

Tunisia hotel attack
Amine Ben Aziza—ReutersPolice officers control the crowd, while surrounding a man suspected to be involved in opening fire on a beachside hotel in Sousse, Tunisia, as a woman reacts, on June 26, 2015.

In Tunisia, officials have waged a tough battle against ISIS since the Bardo attack. Around 3,000 Tunisians are estimated to fight with ISIS, making Tunisis the largest supplier of fighters. The Bardo attackers were believed to have returned to Tunisia from ISIS’s Libyan offshoot.

Tunisia, whose economy depends on European tourists, has scrambled to reassure Westerners that its country, a democracy and the birthplace of the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions, is safe. Tunisia’s tourism agency published posters reading, “Keep Calm and Visit Tunisia.” That assurance might be hard to believe for many European holidaymakers now, especially in France, which retains close ties to its former French-speaking colony. “Tunisia’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism, and that revenue is now about to all but disappear,” Geoff Porter, CEO of the North Africa Risk Consulting, told clients after Friday’s attack. The tourist killings, he said, is “leaving Tunisia in dire straits at a critical junction in its political transition.”

The attacks come nearly six months after three French gunmen waged the worst terrorist attacks in decades in Paris, killing a total of 17 people in an assault on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and on a kosher supermarket in a Parisian suburb. One claimed his allegiance to ISIS, while the other two said they were operating under instructions from the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; all three were killed as the police moved in.

French officials believe about 3,000 French citizens have fought with various jihadist groups in Syria since 2011, and that hundreds might be back home, perhaps battle-trained and battle-ready. Yet none of the three January attackers had been in Syria, underscoring how complicated it is for police to monitor every possible terror operative.

After January attacks, French officials increased security and surveillance. But Friday’s attacks made clear that such ramped-up security and surveillance go only so far. The attack outside Lyon was in an industrial zone, far from high-profile sites in Paris. And while the Charlie Hebdo terrorists armed themselves with Kalashnikov rifles and grenades, the attackers on Friday used just their car as their weapon, and perhaps a knife for the beheading. France’s internal intelligence agency, the DSGI, reported that they had knowledge of the man the police had arrested, and that he was a Lyon resident. Even so, Minister of Interior Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters later that the man had no criminal convictions, a fact that might have made him a lesser target of surveillance.


TIME France

The Former Head of the IMF May Have Been Acquitted But He Has Lost Everything

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was going to be President. Now he symbolises one of the worst aspects of French political culture

The former head of the International Monetary Fund Dominique Strauss-Kahn — who once seemed headed for the French presidency — was acquitted on Friday of so-called “aggravated pimping” charges for his regular sex orgies in the French city of Lille, ending a series of sex-related trials against him, and leaving the French to wonder where the fine line is drawn between France’s sexual tolerance and impunity under the law.

That debate, over whether powerful French men inevitably escape punishment for their sexual transgressions, is far from over. But for now, Strauss-Kahn’s four-year legal ordeals are indeed behind him. He may have been acquitted but no one thinks he is innocent.

On Friday the prosecutor in the Lille trial concluded that the actions of DSK, as Strauss-Kahn is known, fell on the side of sexual liberty. Strauss-Kahn was charged with aiding and abetting prostitution with seven women, by attending numerous orgies with prostitutes in Lille hotels — a practice he continued in Washington during his tenure as Director General of the IMF, which is based in the U.S. capital. The charges that Strauss-Kahn faced in Lille carried a punishment of 10 years in jail and a €1.5 million ($1.7 million) fine. But in the end, prosecutor Federic Fevre said the group did not appear to have acted criminally, and that they were simply trying to “satisfy egos, ambitions and quite simply physical desires.” In an interview with BBC Newsnight that aired on Thursday, Fevre said, “Everyone is allowed to lead the sexual life they wish so long as that remains within the boundaries of the law.”

The right to a private life, and to indulge his outsized sexual habits, has been DSK’s defense since back in May, 2011, when New York police hauled him off an Air France plane and into Rikers Island prison, and charged him with the sexual assault and attempted rape of Nafissatou Diallo, a maid at the Sofitel Hotel in Manhattan.

That arrest had momentous consequences in France, effectively rewriting the country’s political history. Strauss-Kahn, now 66, was the most popular candidate for president at the time, and his New York arrest led to now-President François Hollande winning the election in 2012. The DSK trial in New York also unleashed other charges in France itself. A young French journalist accused Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her while she was interviewing him in a Paris apartment in 2002. Soon after, Lille prosecutors charged him and 13 others with organizing regular orgies that included — according to two prostitutes — Strauss-Kahn forcing them to have anal sex against their will. The only defendant convicted was Rene Kojfer, the former public-relations chief of the Carlton Hotel in Lille, where many of the orgies took place.

Strauss-Kahn has now been cleared of all charges, settling grievances out of court for undisclosed sums of money with both the New York hotel maid and the young French journalist. For the once-powerful politician, his defense was based on the claim that all the liaisons were between consenting adults.

During the past month, DSK has cast himself as a man whose sexual appetites and unusual practices are simply outside the normal spectrum but which appeal to some women. He insisted he did not know that his sexual partners in the champagne-soaked orgies were paid, assuming that they were simply there for “excitement and adventure” like himself. And while he admitted he could “be a bit brutal with women,” he told the court, “I must have a sexuality which compared to average men is more rough. Women have the right not to like that whether they are prostitutes or not.”

Yet the trial’s lurid details have jolted even the French, who are accustomed to their leaders’ sexual adventures. Extramarital affairs have been a feature of virtually every French president; the late president François Mitterrand even had a daughter out of wedlock during the 1980s. And very few French media reported on Strauss-Kahn’s sexual affairs until his New York arrest, despite the fact that Paris was abuzz with rumors of DSK’s swinger lifestyle while he was Finance Minister in the 1990s. Even then-President Nicolas Sarkozy warned DSK about staying out of legal trouble in Washington while he was running the IMF in the midst of the global financial crisis.

In some ways, the DSK drama has changed that French casual attitude to their leaders’ sex lives, or at least, the secrecy around them. Last year, the French press feasted for months on Hollande’s affair with French actress Julie Gayet and his break-up with his longtime partner Valerie Trierweiler. And even friends of Strauss-Kahn expressed being disturbed by the Lille orgies. “He can be considered a libertine and that is permitted in France,” Ivan Levaï, a friend of Strauss-Kahn, told the French channel BFM on Friday. “But not pimping.”

Even so, French women have wondered whether Strauss-Kahn might ever have faced trial in France, had it not been for the New York arrest that set off a series of charges against him back home. “Most people said it would have been stifled, he would not have been arrested, because people love the allowances we make for rich and powerful people,” French feminist writer Christine Delphy told BBC Newsnight on Thursday. “In fact there is impunity from the police, from the justice, from the media. Powerful men will not be convicted.”

On a daily level, in fact, sexual harassment continues among politicians, according to French political journalists. Last month 40 prominent French women journalists published an enraged letter in the paper Libération, saying that there was a widespread culture of harassment of them among the men they regularly interview. “We thought the DSK affair had put the macho habits on the path of extinction,” they wrote, saying that instead, politicians sent suggestive text messages, proposed dinner, and made condescending comments during press conferences, like describing an interjection as a “real girl’s question.” Much is couched as “schoolboy humor” or “the French art of seduction,” apparently believing that that excused their behavior, said the letter

Strauss-Kahn is now left to watch this debate from the outside. Exiled from politics, and a seen as toxic presence by the Socialist Party of which he is a member, he has started a business consultancy, with the Serbian government and others as clients. “We can talk about lost honor,” Levaï told BFM. “And to reclaim his honor and dignity, that could take years.” These are years he once hoped to spend inside the Elysée Palace, the residence of the French President.


Russia and Qatar’s World Cups Under Scrutiny after FIFA Chief Resigns

Proof of corrupt voting process could lead to a second competition to host the World Cups

On December 2, 2010, the Zurich Exhibition Center was so packed with people waiting to hear who would host the World Cups in 2018 and 2022 that Qatar’s World Cup committee chairman Hassan Abdullah al-Thawadi could hardly see over the crowd. FIFA President Sepp Blatter opened the envelope and announced that this tiny, blisteringly hot, non-soccer-playing nation would host the 2022 tournament. The Qataris in the room went wild but Thawadi said he was so stunned it took him a few moments to react. “I assumed we would lose to the U.S.,” he said in an interview in 2013, in Qatar’s capital Doha,. “I had thought, ‘okay, we would showcase to the world what we could do,'” he said. “We believed we had a very compelling story.”

Qatar indeed had a compelling story — and that story is now embroiled in the biggest sports scandal in many years. Switzerland last week opened an investigation into whether the awarding of World Cup hosting rights to Qatar for 2018 and to Russia for 2018 involved buying the votes of some FIFA delegates and the U.S. has indicted nine FIFA executives and five others on charges of money laundering and racketeering.

It is not yet clear what prompted Blatter to quit, just days after vowing he would not. He said on Tuesday he would bow out “to focus on driving far-reaching, fundamental reforms.” FIFA, he added, “needs a profound overhaul.”

With FIFA in turmoil and Blatter saying he will resign, the fierce battle over FIFA’s future direction now comes to rest on the fate of Qatar and Russia’s World Cups. For many of Blatter’s fiercest critics, whether or not those 2018 and 2022 World tournaments go ahead will indicate how serious FIFA is about ending corruption. “If I was the Qatari organizers I would not sleep very well tonight,” England’s soccer chief Greg Dyke said on Tuesday. “I think if the evidence comes out which shows the bidding processes were above board that’s fine. If it shows they were corrupt obviously the bids should be re-done. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

It may not be that simple, however to scrap Russia and Qatar’s World Cups and there will be major political battles over any decisions to move them. After last week’s arrests, Russian President Vladimir Putin, a close ally of Blatter, accused the U.S. of using “methods to achieve their selfish aims and illegally persecute people.” And in a similar fashion Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani told Fox News this week that his country was being unfairly criticized. “Is it because it is an Arab, Islamic, small country? That is the feeling of the people in the region.”

Then there is the financial hit that switching venues would entail. For Russia and Qatar losing the World Cup would be disastrous. Each country has staked a good part of its national prestige on the event and there are billions of dollars in investments in play. Deep in recession and struggling with Western sanctions and low oil prices, Russia expects to spend about $20 billion building infrastructure and stadiums. “The 2018 World Cup is one of the main public investment projects for the next three years,” the Bank of America in Moscow wrote in a note to analysts last Wednesday. Qatar too has banked hugely on its World Cup, and expected to spend about $200 billion over a 12-year period, including its new $17.5-billion international airport, a multibillion-dollar rapid-transit system, and giant FIFA-approved stadiums, all air-conditioned.

Cancelling Russia’s World Cup would entail fairly rushed decisions, since the tournament’s lineup of teams begins this summer. “It is too late to change it,” said Simon Johnson, a London lawyer who led England’s losing bid to host the 2018 World Cup. “But 2022 is another matter.”

Corporate sponsorship is another issue. Advertisers have already expressed concern about splashing their logos across players’ uniforms and FIFA stadiums, in the midst of corruption allegations. After last Wednesday’s arrests, Coca-Cola, a major FIFA sponsor, said the scandal “has tarnished the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup,” while Visa, another big FIFA partner, said that unless FIFA underwent “swift and immediate” reforms, the company “will reassess our sponsorship.”

Campaign groups have continued pushing companies to pull their sponsorship from the Qatar tournament, convinced it is the only form of pressure strong enough to force changes in Qatar’s treatment of construction workers. About 1,400 mostly South Asian migrant workers have already died while building World Cup infrastructure. “Our main concern is not removing Qatar,” says Stephen Russell, coordinator of the London group Playfair Qatar. “We want leadership with the guts to threaten Qatar to remove the World Cup.”

Russell said he believed Blatter had opted to stay on at least until December, in order to ensure that Qatar does not lose its World Cup. “By the time you get to next March, more of the stadiums will have been built,” he said.

Nonetheless, the potential for sponsors to bail out of FIFA is still there, as stories of grim working conditions continue to emerge from Qatar. Russell said Playfair and other groups were beginning to talk to companies about their involvement. “Now there are very serious allegations of corruption along with very serious allegations of worker abuse,” he says. “It only takes one of them to say, ‘this is no good we’re getting out of there,'” he said. “From that point, you can target some of the others which are likely to go.”


Iraqi PM Warns That New ISIS Fighters Are Overwhelming the Iraqi Army

Fighters from Badr Brigades Shiite militia clash with Islamic State group militants at the front line on the outskirts of Fallujah, Anbar province, Iraq on June 1, 2015.
Hadi Mizban—AP Fighters from Badr Brigades Shiite militia clash with Islamic State group militants at the front line on the outskirts of Fallujah, Anbar province, Iraq on June 1, 2015.

Haidar al-Abadi warns that Iraq needs more help to fight ISIS but rules out a return of U.S. troops

As U.S., European and Middle Eastern officials gathered in Paris on Tuesday to discuss how to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), Iraq’s Prime Minister told reporters that hundreds of crack foreign fighters had flooded into Iraq in recent weeks to join ISIS.

“They have brought hundreds of new fighters, well trained, well armed, very good networking,” says Haidar al-Abadi before Tuesday’s talks began. “We are trying very hard on our part, but this is a transnational organization. It needs all the intelligence of the world, and we are not getting much.”

The sense of urgency among Western leaders has risen sharply since mid-May, when ISIS seized Iraq’s western town of Ramadi. The battle seemed one-sided, with a determined ISIS driving out ineffectual Iraqi troops. U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter blamed Iraqi soldiers for the defeat, saying they had “no will to fight” even though the U.S. has 2,200 military personnel supporting the Iraqi army and it has provided it with some $500 million in weapons and ammunition.

ISIS is now 70 miles outside Baghdad and international officials are scrambling to craft a strategy to reverse the group’s gains both in Iraq and Syria, where ISIS seized the city of Palmyra last month.

Abadi, a Shiite politician who replaced his unpopular predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki, last August, says the Iraqi military faced two huge challenges in Ramadi last month. First, he says, ISIS loaded huge armored trucks with explosives, parked them on the frontline, and then detonated them, “like a mini nuclear bomb,” killing frontline soldiers, and causing troops further back to flee. Second, he says, ISIS fighters infiltrated the Sunni-dominated city before seizing it, taking over the mosques and then blasting messages from the loudspeakers encouraging Iraqi soldiers to retreat, rather than fight.

Despite recent failures, Abadi said U.S. troops would not join the fight after pulling out of combat in December 2011. “No. We don’t want it because it is complicating. And in all honesty we will never get it, with public opinion in the West and in the U.S., ” he says.

Western officials fear that Sunni Iraqis do not want to fight ISIS, which some believe is a lesser evil than the Shiite militias fighting on the government side. ISIS also has hundreds of foreign fighters from Sunni states like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. ISIS in Iraq now comprises about 58% foreign fighters, compared with just 40% a few months ago. Many of the fighters come from the Persian Gulf, Turkey and Egypt, according to Abadi.

Abadi said his government was determined to place more Iraqi Sunnis in command positions. “We learned a lot from Ramadi. We have learned how to fight Daesh,” he says, using the Arabic term for ISIS. He said the Iraqi army had begun recruiting Sunni commanders and that his government was in close contact with exiled Sunni leaders in Jordan. He said he had also moved brigades to the northern city of Mosul, which ISIS seized last June, in readiness for a major assault.

On the ground, however, there are reports that Iraqi soldiers are severely overstretched. One U.S. Special Forces officer told Politico last weekend that ISIS “are just better fighters. They have fire discipline. They cover each other’s advances. They keep moving. The Iraqis do none of these things.”

The new Iraqi army will not be enough on its own to defeat ISIS in Iraq. Abadi said his most important need was an increase in aerial surveillance from U.S. planes, to spot ISIS on the move. “Surveillance is very small,” he said. “Daesh is mobile, they move in very small groups. They can gather somewhere else, and attack,” he said. “They are not seen by coalition partners.”

As the U.S.-led coalition plows more money into bolstering Iraq’s military, Abadi knows that his pleas for more arms and ammunition will be met with close scrutiny as Western officials weigh how to best battle to beat ISIS. But the Iraqi Prime Minister argues that the West cannot afford to ignore his calls for more help despite the problems his government has in managing its military. “The danger…is huge,” he says. ISIS “is creating a new generation of fighters, ,” he said. “They prepared to die, but they want to win.”

TIME Sports

Meet the Prince Who Wants to Save Soccer

Prince Ali Bin Hussein of Jordan is giving embattled FIFA President Sepp Blatter a run for his money ahead of Friday's vote

With FIFA’s 209 members set to vote Friday in Zurich on who should run the scandal-ridden global soccer authority, the prospect of ending the 17-year rule of FIFA President Sepp Blatter rests on just one unlikely person: A soft-spoken royal half his age, who has never played professional soccer or managed a FIFA club, and who was still a student at Princeton University when Blatter began his first term in office.

Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Hussein, 39, looked a long shot to deprive Blatter of a fifth term atop FIFA when he launched his campaign in January, saying he wanted to end decades of endemic corruption within FIFA and turn it into “a first-class organization that is worthy of a sport that unites billions of people around the globe.”

Prince Ali still faces an uphill battle in Friday’s vote, despite the arrests of seven top FIFA executives on Wednesday on charges of money laundering and racketeering. In a day that left FIFA and the soccer world in turmoil, police stormed the officials’ five-star hotel rooms in Zurich before dawn, just as the U.S. unsealed indictments against them and seven others—and as Swiss police raided FIFA headquarters in the city. The U.S. charges detail decades of kickbacks and bribes worth some $150 million, while the Swiss investigation concerns suspected bribes around the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting rights, awarded to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

Despite the volcanic events at FIFA this week, Blatter made it clear on Thursday that he had no intention of resigning, and in fact looks set to win another four-year term. That is in large part because of a voting system that heavily favors Blatter—in fact, this is the first time since 2002 that anyone has challenged him for the seat. Each member-country has an equal vote in the FIFA presidential election, whether they are sporting giants like the U.S. or Brazil, or one of the dozens of poor, soccer-addicted nations to which FIFA dispenses millions for sporting facilities; Africa, for example, has 54 votes, and most of its members are expected to back Blatter. “People are always trying to knock Blatter,” Guinea Bissau’s soccer chief Nascimento Lopes told Inside World Football on Thursday. Labeling the opposition against Blatter “blasphemy,” he asserted, “Africa will vote for Mr. Blatter and I will follow that.”

Yet despite Blatter’s probable victory, Prince Ali has in some ways already won big. Through four months’ campaigning, the former parachutist in the Jordanian military has shifted perceptions about what kind of leader FIFA might have—if not, perhaps, as a result of Friday’s vote. (On Thursday, the president of U.S. Soccer acknowledged America’s delegate would cast a ballot for the royal, not Blatter.)

Prince Ali’s election manifesto—an unknown concept for FIFA—promises to transform FIFA into “a service organization and a clear leader in good governance” and to plow its mammoth profits into improving soccer organizations in the neediest countries. That includes quadrupling the annual funds that FIFA dispenses to each of its member associations, from $250,000 to $1 million, an easily affordable sum for the organization, whose financial statement released earlier this month showed its revenues between 2011 and 2014 totaled about $5.7 billion.

His proposals for FIFA entail a drastic shake-up in its management practices, including regular and open accounting of its finances, and he argues that he has the credentials to oversee it.

Born in 1975, Prince Ali is the son of Jordan’s late King Hussein and the younger brother of its current King Abdullah. Like many royals from the Middle East, he attended Britain’s Sandhurst Military Academy before Princeton. In 2004, he married a former CNN correspondent, Rym Brahimi, and the couple has two children. He has served as president of Jordan’s Football Association for 16 years, and for the past four years has been one of FIFA’s seven Vice Presidents; two other FIFA veeps were among those arrested Wednesday. He has also been a member of FIFA’s executive committee for the past four years, although he says he will abandon that position if Blatter is elected a fifth term. “I honestly believe I could not be a member of the executive committee under the circumstances for the next four years,” he told CNN in March. “I will not run.”

Throughout his campaign, Prince Ali has appeared unafraid to make enemies—and enemies he has made. He clashed earlier this month in Bahrain, with that country’s Shaikh Salman, who is a close Blatter ally and who heads the Asian Football Confederation. A day before Wednesday’s arrests, he revealed that back in April an unnamed person offered to deliver 47 votes for him in Friday’s ballot—for a price—and to disclose details of Blatter’s personal finances, which had apparently been illegally obtained. Rather than seize on a possible advantage in the vote, Prince Ali reported the incident to law enforcement officials.

All of that has gained Prince Ali powerful fans. Last week, the Dutch football federation president Michael Van Praag and the Portuguese football star Luís Figo both dropped their bids to be voted FIFA president, saying they were throwing their efforts behind Prince Ali instead, in what seemed designed as a strategic move to unseat Blatter. On Thursday, the football federations of Australia, Wales and Britain all said they would vote for Prince Ali.

Michel Platini, president of Europe’s powerful football federation UEFA—which does not have a vote but whose high-performing members have considerable prestige with FIFA—also backed Prince Ali. “He knows perfectly the workings of the institutions but has not yet had time to be crushed or deformed by them,” Platini told the French sports paper L’Equipe. “He has great freedom of mind and independence that make its strength.” That spirit might well have infected some of FIFA now, even if Prince Ali loses on Friday, which looks likely. Once this week’s tumultuous events have passed, UEFA and others will consider their options—including perhaps boycotting FIFA events, a decision that could leave this multibillion-dollar empire atop a Zurich hillside severely battered.

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