With intelligence coming out of Iraq, Israel, and Turkey leading to the conclusion that an attack on Paris was imminent, French intelligence services dropped the ball on stopping the strikes against the city Friday. It wasn’t inattention, however, they just got the date wrong.
French officials appear to have been virtually unanimously convinced that the ISIS plot was going to happen on November 30, at the UN Climate Change Conference, where dozens of world leaders would’ve been present. Agencies thought the attack would hit with all these people in Paris.
Former officials say the attack on the soccer game made a lot more sense in retrospect, as a softer target with a much larger attendance. Unfortunately the planning to prevent an attack centered entirely on the future date.
Even after the attack, police appear to have really dropped the ball of catching Saleh Abdeslam, the lone confirmed surviving attacker, who reportedly was stopped by police at least three times after the attack, and before arriving at the Belgian border. They let him go all three times.
Since then, reports are growing of a second surviving attacker, though little is known about him. This too suggests intelligence in the wake of the attack wasn’t all that it could have been.