This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Friday, November 13, 2015

France Under Deadly Siege

"[There have been] unprecedented attacks in progress in Greater Paris. It's a horror."
"Two decisions will be taken: a state of emergency will be decreed which means certain places will be closed, traffic may be banned and searches may also take place throughout the Paris region."
"The second decision I have taken is to close the borders. We must guarantee that no one can come in to commit any act. And at the same time those who may have committed crimes can be arrested if they try to leave the country."
"I have decided that we should mobilise all the forces we have to enable the neutralisation of the terrorists and to put in place security in all areas that could be concerned. I have also asked for military reinforcements. They are at this moment in the Greater Paris area to ensure no further attack takes place."
"[Our thoughts are with the] very numerous victims, their families, the wounded. [France must now display] sang-froid [in response to] terrorism [for] what the terrorists want is to scare us."
French President Francois Hollande
This image taken from the French television pool shows French President, Francois Hollande making an emergency broadcast Friday evening
President Hollande addresses the nation -- AP
"Paris itself represents the timeless values of human progress. Those who think they can terrorize the people of France or the values they stand for are wrong. It endures beyond terrorism and beyond those who are committed to these whose hateful vision were perpetrated this evening. We will do whatever we can to work with the French people to bring these terrorists to justice. We have been working with French people to offer our prayers to those wounded."                                 U.S. President Barack Obama
The joyful boisterousness of a Friday night in Paris in the central city was abruptly introduced to terror as Islamist jihadists shouting "Allahu Akbar!" at seven different sites sprang into deadly action, shooting and setting off bombs, prepared to sacrifice themselves happily for the opportunity to become a shaheed, a celebrated martyr whose name would be inscribed in the annals of courageous jihad in the service of Islam.

The largest and most crowded of the venues, capable of holding well over a thousand attendees was the Bataclan venue where, suddenly, one hour into the concert of a California rock group called, ironically enough, Eagles of Death Metal, several well-armed attackers stormed in, shooting wildly as they entered. In a reflex reaction, the audience, all of them young music lovers, fell to the ground for cover, recognizing the sounds after the first stunned moment.

Whoever was able to escape did so, leaving behind the bodies of those who had fallen.

An estimated total of one hundred concert-goers were held hostage in a shoot-out with police that lasted for hours. Of the total number of fatalities from the seven coordinated attacks of deadly ferocity, one hundred died at that Bataclan concert venue alone, all of them young people, for it seems that for whatever reason, when the attacks were being planned, the choice of venues would be those attracting the young.

But then, the attackers too were young and obviously dedicated not to music but to bloody carnage.

Embedded image permalink

"Several armed men came into the concert. Two or three men, not wearing masks, came in with what looked like Kalashnikovs and fired blindly on the crowd."
"It lasted between 10 and 15 minutes. It was extremely violent and there was panic. The attackers had enough time to reload at least three times. They were very young."
Julien Pierce, a Europe 1 journalist who had been inside the Bataclan 

The Bataclan concert hall in central Paris is located only about 200m from the former office of Charlie Hebdo which was attacked by jihadists in January. Was there some symbolic symbiosis in that selection, something to be revealed through agonizing introspection in the days to come, as Paris attempts to shake itself out of the shock that has descended on it, despite the defiant urgings of the French President?

Jonathan Hill from Cardiff,  working in Paris, describes having seen a man directing people into the Bataclan concert hall where people were being held hostage: "I heard three distinct firing shots that at first I didn't believe were actual shots from a gun. They almost sounded like fireworks cracking off in the middle of the street. And while that happened I saw a guy probably 6' 4" - 6' 5", quite a heavy set man looked Caucasian from about 50 yards away. And he was in the middle of the street shouting "Allez! Allez!" at people. He almost seemed to be a good Samaritan telling people to get out of from the cafes and go inside. As that happened I saw another shot and I saw someone collapse to the floor outside the Bataclan."

Christophe Petit Tesson/European Pressphoto Agency
It seems from early reports that a French police official confirmed to the press that two suicide attacks and one bombing took place near the Stade de France stadium. That same early report was that three people died in a blast at the Stade de France, according to the president of the French Football Federation, Noël Le Graët. He also stated that others were injured in the explosion at one of the entrances to the stadium.

The question now is, given the heightened security and a greater fixation on intelligence as a result of last January's double attack at Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish supermarket, how is it that there was no alert among intelligence agencies, not only those in France, but within the international community, said to be attuned to 'chatter' whose effect is pre-warning. It seems, just like the downing of the Russian passenger jet out of Sharm el-Sheikh, a lot of dozing-on-the-job is taking place.

This latest atrocity has given American and European counterterrorism officials reason to review wiretaps and other electronic surveillance records. The results have led a senior American security official to advise there was no immediate indication detected that suspicious chatter or any other warning signs had been afloat, ready to be interpreted, ahead of the attack. And perhaps, just like the data-searching that took place after the downing of the Russian jet, it will be discovered that the clues had been out there, after all, simply overlooked.

For the moment, and freshly after this horrendous event, terrorism experts appear to feel that there was no apparent rationale to the targets of the attack. The attackers, it seems to them, struck randomly in hip neighbourhoods where it would be guaranteed on a Friday night that crowds of people would congregate, easy targets for a massive kill. "It’s a Friday night and there’s a lot of people out, a lot of tourists out", a senior European counterterrorism official ventured. "If you want maximum exposure you do it like this, in the dark when it’s scarier and more difficult for police to act."

Sounds like enough of a rationale. The Islamic State, celebrating wildly over yet another triumph, seems to think so. In days and weeks to come working feverishly to find answers, investigators will in all likelihood establish that this was a home-grown event. In that all of the attackers will be recognized as Parisians, and citizens of France. It's just that their loyalty is unquestionably with Islamist jihad, a requisite for any self-respecting Muslim for whom Islamic State represents the ultimate authority blessed by Islam.

France has been actively engaged in sending its troops into Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Chad to fight jihadists. French troops also fought in Afghanistan. And now, the French military is involved in fighting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Syria. This is global jihad, fronted by Islamic State, fighting back.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

() Follow @rheytah Tweet