Justin does a brief run down on the Islamic terrorists in France through the morning of the 16th.
Paris: In the Shadow of Terrorism
By Justin O. Smith
Sent: 11/16/2015 12:23 PM
I bowed my head in silent prayer when the first reports of another terrorist attack in Paris started trickling across numerous news feeds, like BFM-TV, BBC and the Independent. And today, millions of Americans and the people of Europe are continuing their prayers and support for the victims __ those wounded and murdered __ and their families, with their lives torn asunder by these evil, abominable, horrific and inhuman attacks.
On Friday the 13th 2015, reports started simply as "gunfire reported," but once report of two explosions at Stade de France arrived, news agencies realized a full blown terrorist attack was underway. AK-47 gunfire erupted at 9:25 pm (2:25 pm CST) at Petit Cambodge, a Cambodian restaurant, killing 15 people and wounding 18 more; but, the first of seven coordinated terror attacks in Paris suburbs, throughout the 10th and 11th Arrondissements (Districts), Boulevard Charonne, Boulevard Voltaire, Rue de Fontaine au Roi, the Louvre Museum and several others, began when a suicide bomber, now known to have made his way to Paris posing as a Syrian refugee, detonated his explosives outside the stadium at 9:20 pm.
Ten months after the 'Charlie Hebdo' attack, the chaos and horror, of the deadliest attack in France since WWII and the deadliest attack in Europe since the 2004 Madrid bombing, is seen in the timeline of the reports and the speed of the murderous rampage, after four terrorists burst through the doors of the Bataclan Concert Hall and took control of the crowd watching 'Eagles of Death Metal', a California band. From 4:03 pm CST, the tragedy leaped from BBC's report of "16 killed and 100 held hostage" to Reuters' report at 4:20 pm CST of 40 dead, 60 wounded and 100 held hostage.
In the aftermath and with vigils being held from London's Trafalgar Square to France's Arc de Triomphe, we now know that 89 of the 132 murdered victims were executed one by one in the concert hall, as the terrorists shouted "Allahu Akbar" and "Syria." Some people hid in the stairwells, one pregnant woman dropped from a second story window and others escaped, like Ginnie Watson, from fire exits. The terrorists did not detonate their suicide bombs until French special forces units stormed the building at 5:25 pm CST (Telegraph). Three more people have since died from their injuries on Sunday November 15th. Ninety were critically injured with 42 still in intensive care, and in total, 352 people were hospitalized.
Louise Dewast, ABC Paris editor, reported hearing "12 loud bangs" as special forces stormed Bataclan. Some of those "bangs" were police concussion grenades and three were the terrorists' bombs.
BFM-TV's live pictures illustrated the true horror that was taking place across Paris. Bodies were laying on the sidewalk outside the Petit Cambodge Restaurant. Some of the dead were found in the alley behind Bataclan Concert Hall, having tried to escape as they were being gunned down. And there were police, fire and emergency vehicles and ambulances lining the streets for hundreds of yards, as onlookers shook with fear and grief and anger
By all eyewitnesses' accounts, the terrorists were well trained, firing and emptying their ammo clips rapidly and reloading quickly numerous times. Government officials and intelligence officers everywhere have stated that making the bombs completely undetected and coordinating multiple attacks by three terrorist teams takes a significant level of sophistication.
Near midnight in France, President Francois Hollande was visibly shaken, as he addressed his countrymen and declared a national state of emergency. He had been attending the soccer game between Germany and France inside the Stade de France, when one of the terrorists detonated his bomb. As the seriousness of the attacks became even more evident, President Hollande also ordered France's borders closed and the deployment of 1500 French soldiers to secure Paris's perimeter: A hunt was on for accomplices and cars utilized in this heinous attack.
Standing in front of Bataclan (7:30 pm CST), President Francois Hollande exclaimed, "We are going to fight, and our fight will be merciless ...”
Soon after the initial attacks were reported to have ended by BFM-TV around 5:50 pm CST, messages from world leaders started arriving in France:
Prime Minister David Cameron expressed shock and concluded with, "Our thoughts and prayers are with Paris tonight. I will do whatever I can to help."
President Obama, who had just declared that "ISIS is contained" less than 24 hours earlier, stated, in part, "once again we've seen an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians ... This is an attack on humanity and the universal values that we share."
Jans Soltenberg, NATO Secretary General, stated -- "I am deeply shocked by the horrific terrorist attacks across Paris tonight. We stand strong and united in the fight against terrorism. Terrorism will never defeat democracy."
By Sunday, French, Serbian and Greek officials had confirmed that two of the terrorists had traveled from Syria in March and two more in May. One of the stadium bombers was using a Syrian passport in the name of Ahmad Almomohammad that had been used on the Greek island of Leros on October 3rd. Three French nationals were part of the plot, along with one female suicide bomber.
As the attacks were unfolding, James Woolsey, former Director of the CIA, told BBC that the flood of refugees from Syria have made something of this nature much easier to stage and carry out. He concluded, "We [the U.S.] may have to fight this war and fight it much more thoroughly than anyone is right now."
The AP in Iraq reported that intelligence groups were warned days in advance, and the Islamic State had sent messages through social media giving their blessing to the mission, hinting at the attack 72 hours prior. It is also known that French authorities knew five years ago that one of the terrorists in Friday's attack, Imael Mostafa Mostefai, a French citizen, had terror ties.
Thankfully, German officials arrested a 51 year old Muslim man with ten automatic weapons and explosives on November 5th near the Austrian border. He was headed for Paris, and he is now being held in Berlin in connection with the Paris attacks.
Wasn't this information shared across the European Union and in the United States, so security in the free world could be placed on heightened alert?
Why wasn't France's security level at "severe", which indicates a high likelihood of an attack?
Now an eighth terrorist -- 26 year old, Belgium born, Salah Abdeslam -- is on the run (at this writing) although a police siege was carried out around 8:00 am CST in Molenbeek, Belgium, because police mistakenly thought they had him cornered; Brahim Abdeslam, his brother, and six other terrorists killed themselves the night of the attacks. Unrecognized at the time, Salah actually managed to slip through one checkpoint on Saturday near the Belgium border. Also, Mohammed Abdeslam, another brother, and several family members have been arrested in Brussels.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Intelligence officials have named Abdelhammad Abaaoud as the suspected mastermind; Ahmed Almohammad and Sami Amimour are named as two of the bombers. The Islamic State also warns that other nations conducting airstrikes in Syria can expect the same sort of attacks.
One hundred sixty-eight raids were conducted late last night (the 15th) and early Monday morning in Paris, Calaise, Lyon and on the Belgian border. Twenty-three arrests have been made, with 104 more under house arrest, as more rifles and rocket launchers have been found. And a Belgian police operation is also ongoing in Molenbeek, a Brussels suburb.
Saturday, a Frenchman wheeled a piano to the Bataclan and started playing John Lennon's 'Imagine'. The West Point football team waved the French flag, and from New York to Sydney to London, national buildings like the World Trade Center, the Tower Bridge and Belfast City Hall were lit in France's red, white and blue colors to show unity with France and many nations' heartfelt sympathy and sorrow for the victims and their families.
As the Bells of Notre Dame ring out this morning (the 16th), we pray and we prepare for war. We stand in the shadow of the attacks on France and we stand on the ramparts, as we defend freedom and liberty against the islamofascists of the world. We hear the words of "La Marseillaise", the French national anthem, sung loudly and proudly today across France and those nations standing united with her, and we have come to understand that the spirit of humanity and God is greater than any terrorist act or group of terrorists can ever be.
By Justin O Smith
Editing by John R. Houk
© Justin O. Smith