ISIS Paris attacks and aftermath

Written by  //  March 18, 2016  //  Europe & EU, Terrorism  //  Comments Off on ISIS Paris attacks and aftermath

Reuters: Paris attacks

The Paris attacks change everything
Friday’s attacks changed the world in fundamental ways. The targets struck were, as they say, soft; they were chosen, if not at random, then in some unpredictable fashion. It is hardly possible to protect every restaurant, tavern — even music venue. This was a terrorist attack whose intent it was to terrorize, to fundamentally shake an entire society. It will take some days, but that goal — despite the very good words of political leaders and the marvelous singing of “La Marseillaise” in the soccer stadium — will be realized. — Richard Cohen (WaPost 14 November 2015)

Paris Attacks Suspect Salah Abdeslam Captured In Brussels
He is the only survivor of the 10 men believed to have carried out the November attacks.
(World Post) Fugitive terror suspect Salah Abdeslam was captured on Friday during a massive police operation in Brussels, Belgium. The 26-year-old Frenchman from Brussels is suspected of having taken part in the Paris attacks on Nov. 13 that left 130 dead.
French President Francois Hollande and Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel confirmed the capture in a press conference in Brussels Friday evening, concluding a four-month international search for the fugitive.
Police launched the raid in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek on Friday afternoon, targeting a single home, according to Belgian newspaper De Standaard. Shortly after police asked local residents to evacuate10 shots were fired.
Federal prosecutors said in a press conference Friday that police arrested Abdeslam at 4:40 p.m. local time. Because he wasn’t cooperating, they shot him in the leg in order to be able to capture him. Prosecutors said three other people were arrested as well; they are all members of the family that sheltered Abdeslam.
Salah Abdeslam, Europe’s most-wanted man, arrested in Brussels
(Euronews) The 26-year-old French national was the number one fugitive following a coordinated series of attacks in Paris last November, in which 130 were killed.
Ahead of Friday afternoon’s (March 18) raids in the Molenbeek area, Belgian authorities disclosed a fingerprint found during an investigation in another part of the capital belonged to Abdeslam.
One suspect, Mohammed Abrini, is still on the run. Ten others were already being held in Belgium in connection with the November 2015 bombings and shootings.
Abdeslam’s capture will be seen as a huge success for Belgian and French forces. Authorities will now be looking to find out his exact role in the attacks and who coordinated the operation


29 December
Isis jihadi linked to Paris terror attacks killed by US-led airstrikes – Pentagon
Washington says Charaffe al-Mouadan was killed on 24 December and had a ‘direct link’ to the Paris attack cell leader, Abdelhamid Abaoud
Le Parisien reported that al-Mouadan was a “charismatic” figure who had undergone firearms training in Paris starting in March 2012.
9 December
Frenchman from Syria identified as third Bataclan attacker
The third attacker who terrorized Paris’ Bataclan concert hall before being killed there has been identified as a Frenchman who left for Syria in 2013, two French officials said Wednesday, heightening fears of what increasingly appears to be an entirely homegrown European plot.
Foued Mohamed-Aggad left Strasbourg for Syria in late 2013, a French judicial official said, at a time when a group of about a dozen young men from the eastern city left for the war zone. Some returned of their own will – including his brother – telling investigators they were disgusted by what they had seen. The Frenchman believed to have recruited them, Mourad Fares, is also under arrest. All are charged with terror-related offences and face trial. … All the Nov. 13 attackers identified so far have been from France or Belgium, native French speakers who joined Islamic State extremists in Syria. The Bataclan attackers, who carried automatic weapons and wore suicide vests, were responsible for the worst of the carnage.
The other two attackers, Omar Ismail Mostefai and Samy Amimour, were also French.
3 December
France close down 3 mosques – 334 war grade weapons found – 223 arrests
(Speisa) Police investigating the Paris terror attacks have shut down three mosques in a series of raids to close the net on Islamic extremists, the Express reports.
Police in France also arrested the owner of a revolver found during Wednesday’s raid, France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.
Security officials found jihadist documents at the mosque where yesterday’s raids took place.
They have placed nine people under house arrest. Another 22 have been banned from leaving the country Mr Cazeneuve said.
France has been under a state of emergency since 130 people were killed in a series of terror attacks in Paris on November 13. Since then, some 2,235 homes and buildings have been raided, 232 people taken into custody, and 334 weapons confiscated.
21 November
Anonymous hackers uncovers plans by Isis to attack Paris, Indonesia, Italy and Lebanon
(IBT) The hacktivist group Anonymous has reportedly uncovered plots by Islamic State (Isis) for terrorist attacks in Paris, US, Indonesia, Italy and Lebanon, to occur on Sunday, 22 November. A subgroup of Anonymous called OpParisIntel published a statement claiming that they had found details about an imminent attack by IS, just over a week after 130 people were killed in Paris.
The news comes as Anonymous escalates its online assault on IS after the Paris attacks by taking down one of the most important forums for their communication. IS has responded to hacking group’s threats by publishing a series of basic guidelines to prevent their followers’ Twitter accounts from being hacked.
20 November
The Paris Attacks Reflect Intelligence Failure — Not a Change in ISIS Strategy
(World Post) The sophisticated nature of the Paris attacks would have required planning and procurement of provisions predating ISIS’s latest setbacks. Though it will still take time for more precise details to emerge, nothing so far definitely shows that the Paris attacks differ significantly from prior failed plots involving sleeper cells operating in Europe — including returned foreign fighters in their ranks — with suspected links to low to mid-level ISIS operatives in Iraq and Syria….
Concerns regarding these networks have long been on the radar of Western intelligence services, and the fact the Paris attacks came to fruition represent a significant failure in detection more than anything else. The reason we have come to associate ISIS with lone wolf attacks rather than well-planned operations is because lone wolf attacks are usually harder to foresee and easier to carry out.
A similar analysis of the problem of sleeper cell networks applies to the situation of ISIS in Lebanon. Lebanon is a target for ISIS as it constitutes a part of the greater al-Sham region over which ISIS claimed geographical coincidence when it officially declared its expansion beyond Iraq in April 2013. Indeed, the Dahiyeh suburbs were already the subject of ISIS-claimed bomb attacks in January 2014. Only the Russian aircraft downing can be tied to recent developments as ISIS seeks to gain credibility for fighting back against the Russian intervention in Syria that has provoked widespread anger among Sunni Muslims.
19 November
Suspected mastermind of Paris attacks killed in raid, says France
(Reuters) Authorities said they had identified the corpse of Belgian national Abdelhamid Abaaoud from fingerprints in the aftermath of Wednesday’s raid, in which at least two people died including a female suicide bomber after a gun battle with police.
“It was his body we discovered in the building, riddled with impacts,” a statement from the Paris prosecutor said, a day after the pre-dawn raid. The prosecutor later added that it was unclear whether Abaaoud had detonated a suicide belt. (BBC) Paris attacks: ‘Ringleader’ Abdelhamid Abaaoud killed in raid ; Paris attacks: Who was Abdelhamid Abaaoud? ; Paris attacks: Key questions after Abaaoud killed
17 November
Anonymous goes to war with ISIS over Paris attacks
The loosely-affiliated hacker collective known as Anonymous announced Sunday the launch of a massive cyber-campaign, dubbed #OPParis, designed to scrub the terrorist organization’s influence from the internet while French airstrikes wipe ISIS strongholds off the map. “We can not fight them with guns and rifles,” an Anonymous spokesperson told the BBC, “stopping their propaganda is an effective way to weaken their manpower and their presence in the Internet.”
Make no mistake: #Anonymous is at war with #Daesh. We won’t stop opposing #IslamicState. We’re also better hackers. #OpISIS
Paris attacks: What we know about the attackers and suspected accomplices
7 suicide attackers were killed when their explosive vests detonated at 3 of the targeted sites
Still at large
1. Abdelhamid Abaaoud: Suspected mastermind
Abaaoud, in his late 20s, is the suspected Belgian mastermind of the attacks. Abaaoud has been linked to earlier plots, including one against a Paris-bound high-speed train that was foiled by three young Americans in August, and the other against a church in the French capital’s suburbs.
He was already well known to those who follow ISIS. In 2014, grim footage emerged of him and his friends in Syria loading a pickup and a makeshift trailer with a mound of bloodied corpses.
2. Salah Abdeslam: Suspected of renting black VW Polo car used in attacks
The Brussels-born 26-year-old is the brother of Ibrahim Abdeslam, who blew himself up at the Comptoir Voltair café in Paris. An arrest warrant has been issued for Abdeslam, whom police had allowed to slip from their grasp early Saturday, when they stopped a car carrying three men near the Belgian border.
Paris attacks Eiffel TowerParis Attacks Suspect Was Monitored by Western Allies Seeking to Kill Him
(WSJ) Islamic State operative couldn’t be located in the weeks before plot was carried out
An Islamic State operative suspected of helping plan the Paris attacks had been monitored in Syria by Western allies seeking to kill him in an airstrike, but they couldn’t locate him in the weeks before the plot was carried out, two Western security officials said.
The operative, a Belgian citizen named Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was convicted in abstentia in Brussels earlier this year of recruiting jihadists, was suspected of masterminding a foiled plot to behead police officers, escaped to Syria and was profiled in Islamic State’s online magazine mocking European authorities for their failure to catch him.
France launches fresh strikes on Isis as Pentagon chief calls for global coalition
(The Guardian) Ash Carter, the US defence secretary, echoes François Hollande by urging European allies to join forces to defeat the terrorist group
France has launched fresh air strikes against Isis targets in Syria as the Pentagon chief urged European countries to join a military coalition to defeat Islamic State in the wake of the Paris attacks.
Ten Rafale and Mirage 2000 fighters carried out the raid at 0030GMT on Tuesday, dropping 16 bombs, the ministry said.
“Both targets were hit and destroyed simultaneously,” it said. “Conducted in coordination with US forces, the raid was aimed at sites identified during reconnaissance missions previously carried out by France.”
Echoing a call to arms from French president Francois Hollande on Monday night, Ash Carter, the US defence secretary, said that America was continuing to look for opportunities to strike at the terrorists but needs its European allies to make bolder moves to defeat the group militarily.
16 November
Richard N. Haass: After Paris
Actually, the challenge posed by the Islamic State calls for several responses, as there is no single policy that promises to be sufficient. Multiple efforts are needed in multiple domains.
One is military. … The best option is to work more closely with Kurdish troops and select Sunni tribes in both Iraq and Syria. This means providing intelligence, arms, and being willing to send more soldiers – more than the 3,500 Americans already there, and possibly on the order of 10,000 – to train, advise, and help direct a military response.
A diplomatic component is no less essential to any response. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a recruiting tool for the Islamic State and must go But any successor government must be able to maintain order and not permit the Islamic State to exploit a power vacuum, as it has done in Libya. Moreover, orderly political change can be brought about only with Russian and Iranian support. …
What is also required is a dose of realism. The struggle against the Islamic State is not a conventional war. We cannot eradicate or destroy it any time soon, as it is as much a network and an idea as it is an organization and a de facto state that controls territory and resources.
Indeed, terrorism is and will continue to be one of the scourges of this era. The good news, though, is that the threat posed by the Islamic State to the Middle East and the rest of the world can be dramatically reduced through sustained, concerted action. The main lesson of the attack on Paris is that we must be prepared to act over time and place alike.
Is France at War?
President Hollande asked lawmakers for more measures to tackle ISIS. What he didn’t ask for: authorization for a declaration of war.
In his speech Monday, Hollande called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting on a joint response to terrorism; a three-month extension of the country’s state of emergency, which was imposed Friday even as the attacks were unfolding; a constitutional amendment so the country won’t have to resort to a state of emergency in response to terrorism; the power to strip the French citizenship of dual nationals convicted of terrorism; more effective border controls for the European Union; and increased funding for the military, police, and security forces.
We Are At War
By Dominique Moisi, a professor at L’Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), Senior Adviser at the French Institute for International Affairs (IFRI) and a visiting professor at King’s College London
(Project Syndicate) Clarity of analysis is what we now need the most. We barely know our enemy, except for the intensity of his hatred and the depth of his cruelty. To understand his strategy, we must recognize him for what he is: an intelligent – and, in his own way, rational – adversary. For too long, we have despised and underestimated him. It is urgent that we now change course.
In the last few weeks, the Islamic State’s strategy of terror has brought death to the streets of Ankara, Beirut, and Paris, and to the skies over Sinai. The identity of the victims leaves no doubt about the message. “Kurds, Russians, Lebanese Shia, French: You attack us, so we will kill you.” …
Of course, the terrorist cell that struck Paris was not created in the wake of the Islamic State’s recent battlefield losses. It was already in place, waiting to be activated (as others may be). That demonstrates the Islamic State’s tactical flexibility, not to mention the availability of people willing to commit suicide.
If the Islamic State chose this time, in Paris, to target people who are not satirists, policemen, or Jews, it is precisely because their “ordinariness” left them unprotected. This time, the attackers chose “quantity” over “quality” (if one may be pardoned for such a crude formulation). The goal was to kill as many people as possible.
How the Paris Attacks Are Changing the EU’s Debate on Refugees
The reaction to the deadly siege may further complicate an already fragile European plan for handling thousands of asylum-seekers.
There has been little consensus within the EU on how to handle the migrant and refugee crisis, and reaction to the Paris attacks will likely further splinter the bloc’s response.
In Paris, the ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ that divides a stricken city won’t heal it: Keith Boag
France coming together only in the sense that it might be uniting against its Muslim population
(CBC) … all France has been on edge this year because of the attack at Charlie Hebdo and the rising flood of refugees coming to Europe to escape the carnage in Syria.
Both crises were destined to bring new heat to old arguments, but some important voices were missing, says Sylvie Kaufmann, the editorial director of the French daily Le Monde.
She wrote in the New York Times a couple of months ago that French politicians had been mostly silent about the Syrian refugee crisis overwhelming Europe because “they are paralyzed by fear, the fear of feeding the xenophobic National Front” led by Marine le Pen.
Paris attacks: Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud identified as presumed mastermind
Abaaoud is believed to have links to thwarted attacks on high-speed train, church
(CBC) Once a happy-go-lucky student at one of Brussels’ most prestigious high schools, Saint-Pierre d’Uccle, Abdelhamid Abaaoud morphed into Belgium’s most notorious jihadi, a zealot so devoted to the cause of holy war that he recruited his 13-year-old brother to join him in Syria.
The child of Moroccan immigrants who grew up in the Belgian capital’s scruffy and multiethnic Molenbeek-Saint-Jean neighbourhood, the fugitive, in his late 20s, was identified by French authorities on Monday as the presumed mastermind of the attacks last Friday in Paris that killed 129 people and injured hundreds.
What’s more, one French official with direct knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press that Abaaoud is believed to have links to earlier terror attacks that were thwarted: one against a Paris-bound high-speed train that was foiled by three young Americans in August, and the other against a church in the French capital’s suburbs.
I was held hostage by Isis. They fear our unity more than our airstrikes
Nicolas Hénin
In Syria I learned that Islamic State longs to provoke retaliation. We should not fall into the trap
As a proud Frenchman I am as distressed as anyone about the events in Paris. But I am not shocked or incredulous. I know Islamic State. I spent 10 months as an Isis hostage, and I know for sure that our pain, our grief, our hopes, our lives do not touch them. Theirs is a world apart
With their news and social media interest, they will be noting everything that follows their murderous assault on Paris, and my guess is that right now the chant among them will be “We are winning”. They will be heartened by every sign of overreaction, of division, of fear, of racism, of xenophobia; they will be drawn to any examples of ugliness on social media.
Central to their world view is the belief that communities cannot live together with Muslims, and every day their antennae will be tuned towards finding supporting evidence. The pictures from Germany of people welcoming migrants will have been particularly troubling to them. Cohesion, tolerance – it is not what they want to see.
13-15 November
Three Teams of Coordinated Attackers Carried Out Assault on Paris, Officials Say; Hollande Blames ISIS
(NYT) Three teams of Islamic State attackers acting in unison carried out the terrorist assault in Paris on Friday night, officials said Saturday, including one assailant who may have traveled to Europe on a Syrian passport along with the flow of migrants.
“It is an act of war that was committed by a terrorist army, a jihadist army, Daesh, against France,” President François Hollande told the nation from the Élysée Palace, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. “It is an act of war that was prepared, organized and planned from abroad, with complicity from the inside, which the investigation will help establish.”
As the death toll rose to 129 — with 352 others wounded, 99 of them critically — a basic timeline of the attacks came into view.
Muslims around the world condemn terrorism after the Paris attacks
(Quartz) Leaders of Arab states called the attacks immoral and inhumane. Qatar’s foreign minister Khaled al-Attiyah denounced the “heinous attacks,” adding, “these acts, which target stability and security in France are against all human and moral values.” Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Sabah called the attacks “criminal acts of terrorism which run counter to all teachings of holy faith and humanitarian values.” The Saudi foreign ministry called for global cooperation to “root out this dangerous and destructive plague.” the height – or depth – of irony.
Beirut, Baghdad and Paris: how 24 hours of Isis terror unfolded around the world
(The Independent) While the Isis atrocities in Paris have dominated headlines around the world, they were not the only major attacks the terror group has carried out on innocent people this week.
On Thursday night Lebanon was left reeling after the worst terror attack in Beirut in years left at least 43 people dead and 250 injured in a double suicide bombing.
Early on Friday, an Isis militant blew himself up at the funeral of a pro-government Shia fighter in Baghdad, killing at least 18 people and wounding 41.
Paris 10_35 Sat am Nov 14 Sean SilcoffSean Silcoff: Paris awakens to a grim morning after night of horror
A grim mood prevailed across the city as Parisians and visitors awoke to the aftermath of horror on a cool overcast day. Many people throughout the city looked ashen and downbeat while intently reading the latest on their smartphones after staying up into the early hours to watch coverage of one of the deadliest terrorist attacks against a western country since the Sept. 11 attacks. Those who went out encountered an already heightened police presence in key areas – a reality since the deadly attacks on Charlie Hebdo last January that killed 11 and wounded 11 others – now augmented by groups of soldiers in green fatigues and helmets, their hands grasping automatic weapons.
Groups of soldiers were observed on patrol in front of Notre Dame cathedral, by the entrance to the Chatelet Les Halles subway station – a key transfer point in the heart of the city– at the Gare de Lyon train station and in front of a synagogue in the city’s Jewish quarter. Announcements over the city’s subway system informed travellers that Disneyland Paris was closed and direct subway service to Charles de Gaulle airport had been suspended, with shuttles running in their place.
Roger Cohen: To Save Paris, Defeat ISIS
It was wrong to dismiss ISIS as a regional threat. Its threat is global. Enough is enough. A certain quality of evil cannot be allowed physical terrain on which to breed. Pope Francis declared the Paris attacks “not human.” In a sense he is right. But history teaches that human beings are capable of fathomless evil. Unmet, it grows.
To defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq will require NATO forces on the ground. After the protracted and inconclusive Western interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is reasonable to ask if this would not be folly. It is also reasonable to demand – and many will – whether military action will only have the effect of winning more recruits for ISIS as more lives and treasure are squandered. Terrorism, the old nostrum has it, can never be completely defeated.
Such arguments are seductive but must be resisted. An air war against ISIS will not get the job done; the Paris attacks occurred well into an unpersuasive bombing campaign. Major powers, including Russia and China, have vigorously condemned the Paris attacks. They should not stand in the way of a United Nations resolution authorizing military action to defeat and eliminate ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Regional powers, especially Saudi Arabia, have an interest in defeating the monster they helped create whose imagined Caliphate would destroy them.
Paris_map_attacks_13-14.11.15_1French President Hollande was top target in multiple terror atrocity in Paris
(Debka) The geography of the six Paris locations targeted by terrorists Friday night points to precise advance planning in support of a primary target, namely, French President Francois Hollande, while at the same time sowing bloody havoc in the French capital, frightening tourists away and shaking the French governing system to the core. The cost in lives has not been finally tallied. Estimates range from 127 to 153 with dozens of people injured.
The French agencies therefore work in the almost total absence of human intelligence from Arabic speakers conversant with the local dialect, and rely almost exclusively on “signal Intelligence” (SIGINT) for warnings of a deadly threat of the kind that swept Paris Friday and is unlikely to end any time soon.
Since it could not have been the work of 200 lone wolves, but only a large organization with headquarters in Syria and Iraq and impressive multinational capabilities, it is hard to understand how the far-reaching preparations for a multiple Paris terror assault were not detected by any Western signals intelligence branches, including ECHELON, the all-seeing American digital surveillance system and its small brother, Frenchelon. This is bad news for other Western capitals, which ISIS has placed under threat.

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