From the Bataclan Theatre in Paris, one of the first quoted attackers was overheard saying, “I am from ISIS” and IS on Twitter is saying that this is France’s September 11th. If this is Daesh, or simply another reckless claim from them, it is unclear and will be for some time. Daesh, or IS and Al Qaeda are historically well noted for accepting responsibility for attacks and incidents of which they played no part. Terrorist organizations act as drunken public relations agents, assigning their brand to anything which may further perpetrate their message as they use the media as free advertisement.
Claims aside, eight fanatics armed with assault weapons and wearing suicide vests targeted innocent civilians in Paris. They launched a synchronized attack on six locations throughout the city of Paris on the 13th of November, 2015; where they murdered 133 people, and wounded another 352, of those, 99 are in critical condition. At 21:30 local, terrorists entered the Bataclan Theater and opened fire, after a hostage stand-off with French authorities, one hundred were dead. On the corner of Rue de Charone and Rue Faidherbe, eighteen were murdered by a gunman at a restaurant. A Le Caillon, a gunman at another restaurant murdered fourteen. Two explosions at the Stadium, Stade de France, where the French President was enjoying a soccer match. Three suicide bombers with vests loaded with explosives and nails detonated themselves while attempting entry into the stadium; two at the gates after being discovered and another at a nearby McDonalds; one was killed.
The root of the attack was not an immediate issue as emergency responders and government officials scrambled to control the damage on the ground. The Agence France-Presse struggled to keep up with the rising dead from the attack on the theater alone. A total of six attacks have rocked Paris and the death toll continues to rise as attacks which included three suicide bombers and several shootouts. Across Paris, shootings near Petit Cambodge in the 10th Arrondisement [Paris administrative district], three explosions near a Paris stadium where France and Germany were engaged in a soccer match, and at a concert hall where the American rock band, Eagles of Death Metal was playing.
French President François Hollande, cancelled his trip to the G20 meeting in Turkey and held a 14 09:00 November 2015, defense council, at the presidential palace to discuss action and options from this attack. Immediate reactions were to declare a state of national emergency, mobilize the military, close the Paris Metro System, the Paris Orly Airport; only outbound travel was restricted, and the first city-wide curfew since 1944 was enacted. The French interior ministry deployed 1,500 soldiers into Paris for increased security, according to France 24. Analysts are now speculating on the possible invocation of Article Five of the NATO treaty, essentially meaning; an attack on one is an attack on all. The United States invoked this article following the 9/11 attacks.
German authorities are investigating a suspect, who was arrested in Bavaria, last week with assault weapons and explosives as having ties to the Paris attack. Another delayed German reaction, as SOFREP reported that “weeks ago that the French National Police were meeting with the German BKA federal police and BND federal intelligence service to discuss an imminent pre-planned terrorist attack in Paris.” Officials in Belgium have announced three additional arrests, after conducting raids on suspected targets; one linked to a rental car found in Paris and to the attacks. Poland’s prospective minister for European affairs has stated that Poland will not observe a European Union plan to accept migrants without “a guarantee of safety.” The attack has rippled across Europe’s free-travel or Schengen Zone, leading to an emergency tightening of security across the once open borders.
President Hollande, after meeting with his defense council, declared three days of national mourning and has raised France’s national security to its highest level. President Hollande, leaning on the current assumptions and similar statements by U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry that the attacks were carried out by IS, saying that IS “a terrorist army … a jihadist army, against France, against the values that we defend everywhere in the world, against what we are: A free country that means something to the whole planet.” Thus assigning official blame to IS and further calling the attacks an “act of war” and that France “Will be merciless towards the barbarians of [the] Islamic State group.” Meanwhile IS ostensibly, rolled out a statement via social media, as their supporters and contenders battled out blame under the Twitter hashtag “باريس_تشتعل#“.
The terrorist organization IS, under the anonymity of the web, has claimed responsibility in several online statements in both Arabic and French; which has been subsequently circulated by the groups’ supporters. The statement itself is full grandiose claims and heavily relies on Islam as justification and the insane premises for the attacks. “Let France and those who walk in its path know that they will remain on the top of the list of targets of the IS,” the statement also reads, in part, “and that the smell of death will never leave their noses as long as they lead the convoy of the Crusader campaign.” The message goes on to disregard France’s airstrikes in support of U.S. led Operation Inherent Resolve, noting that France’s air power was “of no use to them in the streets and rotten alleys of Paris.” It has not been possible to confirm the legitimacy of the claim, but the graphics released bears their logo and resembled previous verified statements from the group; a full translation is available via the SITE Intelligence Group.
During the attack, there was the simultaneous incident at a migrant camp in Calais; nicknamed ‘Jungle’ which was set ablaze, following days of clashes with French authorities. As a set of no-less-than six incidences of explosions and gunfire exploded in Paris. One of the attackers is reported to have said “This is for Syria“. A plausible cause for concern as the migrant crisis has been an epidemic on European Union policy and procedure. Migrant inflow into mainland Europe has been overwhelming for officials and many are not who they claim to be; often providing falsified documentation to authorities. As many 680, 400 people have migrated in thus far in 2015 alone, with an expected 1.3 million by years end. Of which, 6,000 are reported to have joined IS; many of whom maintain citizenship in their home nations, allowing them to freely travel back and forth to Iraq and Syria.
Yet that is only 0.88% of the total migrants, statistically negligible; but on the other hand it only took eight people to commit an international tragedy. The implementation of practices such as the U.S. effort in the migrant crisis, which has been to establish settlement processing centers abroad, to screen asylum seekers for potential security threats before they arrive. Increased screening which is clearly necessary. French officials did attempt to boost security in reaction to the Charlie Hebdo attacks, by expanding Operation Sentinelle, a surveillance system and special task force within the national police. Although the influx may have overwhelmed them, as French authorities have found a Syrian passport found near one of the attackers. Greek officials were able to identify the attacker and his path into Europe using biometric data captured during his migration.
Others, such as Donald Trump, the Mizzou protesters and Salon, have charged forward, tastelessly using the attacks as a pedestal to further their own agendas. Ben Norton of Salon has gone as far to discard the attacks to state: “After Paris, let’s stop blaming Muslims and take a hard look at ourselves.” There is a slight point, as for one to not make assumptions, but when one of the attackers screams “Allah akbar” and sets off to commits acts of terrorism, it is difficult to not direct your attention to Muslims. Salon makes the argument that the majority of terrorist attacks, based on this data, are not religious and then paraphrases ethno-nationalism and separatism. Ethno-nationalism is a term which refers to a particular form of nationalism that is motivated by a longing for an ethnic community to have absolute authority over its own political, economic, and social affairs. Much like the IS caliphate, Sharia law or doctrine which attempts to undermine a host nation as seen in the counter-hegemonic movements in Europe’s migrant neighborhoods. The peacefulness of Islam is up for debate, and seemingly losing the debate. Framing the blame as Islamophobia is not the issue, but hypocrisy in the public reaction to such a tragedy is. The blood was not yet dry in Paris when opportunist struck upon this issue before any facts or relevant context was presented.
In a demonstration of bad timing for the United States, President Obama downplayed IS on a Friday interview with ABC’s Good Morning America. In the interview he said of IS, “I don’t think they’re gaining strength,” Obama continued. “What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq, and in Syria they’ll come in, they’ll leave, but you don’t see this systemic march by ISIL across the terrain.” His further remarks did present relevant predictions, “What we have not yet been able to do is to completely decapitate their command and control structures,” he acknowledged. “We’ve made some progress in trying to reduce the flow of foreign fighters and part our goal has to be to recruit more effective Sunni partners in Iraq to really go on offense rather than simply engage in defense.” This was indeed relevant considering the gains of Friday the 13th, as a coalition of Kurdish factions led by the Peshmerga and supported U.S. and British airstrikes liberated the Sinjar region from IS.
Later that evening, as we all enjoyed the short lived joy of our gains. President Obama found himself back in front of the cameras in response to Paris, calling the attacks an “outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians” and pledged the U.S. government’s assistance to France. He has further vowed to bring those responsible to justice.
Internally the U.S. is stepping up its own security measures. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released this statement, “At this time, no specific or credible threats of an attack on the US homeland of the type that occurred in Paris tonight.” Even so, police departments and municipal officials from across the nation have preventatively and strategically raised presence patrols and alert statuses in kind. Mayor Bill de Blasio said in an interview on NY1. “We learned through painful experience that we had to protect ourselves. … New York knows this all too well. And that’s why we know we have to be ready.” Mayor Blasio has a point, and IS has already posted their intent, under the hashtag #باريس_تشتعل “or “Paris on Fire” in Arabic, the same hashtag IS used to declare the Charlie Hebdo terror attack. The tweet by IS threatened that there would be attacks in London and Rome on November 14th or 15th. Further hashtags under “Paris on Fire” also include “London on Fire”, “Rome on Fire”, and “Washington on Fire.” U.S. authorities currently have 1,000 active probes and have successfully deterred multiple attacks, charging sixty six IS suspects in the continental United States alone.
In France the attack will surely have military and political consequences. The attack on Paris comes five days prior to the departure France’s aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, which is set to embark on a deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of operations against IS. France has also been conducting regular airstrikes in Syria since late September, as part of the U.S. led coalition, Operation Inherent Resolve. France has viewed the attack seen as an act of war, one that was carried out by IS, who controls a terrorist army and a has region larger than many nations. The Islamic State has blessed off on this attack, as an operation conducted by its soldiers and has vowed further unrelenting attacks.
Pope Francis has described the current state of events as “a piece” of a piecemeal Third World War. France has been proactive in the war against terrorist and terrorist states, globally. The resolve of France in the fight also appears to have strengthened in response to the attacks. Over 20,000 French troops are currently deployed abroad, many of them participating in anti-piracy, counterterror or force protection operations.
These attacks are a reminder of France’s longstanding ethnic contrasts, such as the 2005 Riots, the Charlie Hebdo attack, the Migrant Crisis, Libya and Mali. Old tensions in old territories and a steady influx of migrants have been entering via Germany from the east and south. France is also one of many European nations with hundreds of citizens as IS recruits, many having travelled to Syria; many from online radicalization which continues to grow. There is also a social and economic context of high youth unemployment, especially in suburbs where the riots erupted from. All reasoning aside, there is no legitimate excuse for such an action. Despite the grievances of those who claim social dislocation; those who often forget that they sought help and refuge from France to escape the tyranny of their birth nation.