Paris, France was attacked in multiple locations on Friday, November 13, killing at least 129 and injuring 300 more, in what is now being reported as terrorist attacks from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, or ISIL. The series of attacks were coordinated, and consisted of mass shootings, suicide bombings, and the holding of hostages in 4 different locations all near central Paris.
The first in the series of attacks was a suicide bombing near the “Stade de France” in the suburb of Saint-Denis during an international friendly soccer match. The match was between France and Germany and French President François Hollande was in attendance. Three suicide bombers detonated their vests near the stadium after being denied admittance to the game. One detonated his vest shortly after being turned away, killing an innocent bystander. The others detonated their vests in close proximity to the stadium at a nearby McDonalds.
President Hollande evacuated the scene promptly in order to conduct crisis management. Those involved in the game, both players and fans, were unaware of the events until after the game, at which they were all brought onto the field until given further notice that it was safe to depart.
Afterwards, four shootings took place at a number of cafés and bistros on adjacent streets, leaving 24 people dead. At the Bataclan Theater during a concert, three men wielding AK-47s opened fire on a crowd of about 1,500 people and continued to shoot for approximately 15 minutes. Witnesses were quoted as saying that the suspects “reloaded three or four times” with “determined looks on their faces.” Others said that they heard “Allahu Akbar” being shouted, which means “God is Great” in Arabic, as well as mention of French President François Hollande attacking Muslims around the world for years.
After this massacre which left around 100 people dead, the task of identification began.
The three bombers near the stadium were identified as Syrian men, but the French Prosecutor’s Office questioned the authenticity of their passports, noting that it was somewhat simple to forge them. Another perpetrator was Bilal Hadfi, a 20 year old Belgian who previously fought in Syria for ISIL and was a supporter of the Northern African terrorist group “Boko Haram.” All the other suspects identified were men of Syrian decent who were living in either France or Belgium. Several other terrorists in the coming days have been linked to the attacks, and have either been arrested or put on house arrest, while one strong suspect still remains at large.
ISIL claimed responsibility for the attacks, and published a video a few days later claiming that their motive was based on France’s involvement in the Iraqi and Syrian civil wars. They also stated that this was not to be an isolated attack. They warned that there will be more attacks waged on Western nations, also specifically mentioning Washington, D.C. As a result, the world has been on tight watch for terrorist activity.
French President François Hollande considered this to be “an act of war” and unleashed air strikes on the Islamic State’s capital of Raqqa, Syria. These air strikes were a continuation of strikes composed by the British as well as the U.S., who just spoke of a cease fire pact on the horizon in order to assist in ending the Syrian Civil War more quickly.
Many international soccer matches have been canceled as a result of the attacks. One of these matches included one in Germany that German Prime Minister Angela Merkel was supposed to attend. It was canceled with the reasoning that German intelligence officials received a “strong tip” that explosives were planned on being brought into the stadium.
Travel plans to Paris have been largely affected as well.
Paris is one of the largest tourist destinations in Europe, and companies like Jet Blue and Marriot have offered discounted and waived cancellation fees as a result of the attacks. France has been on high alert since January 2015 after the headquarters of French magazine Charlie Hebdo was attacked because of their depiction of Muslims in publications.
France has a large population of Muslims from both the Middle East and Northern Africa, and as a result of the Syrian refugee crisis, they have been selective in their plans to house Muslim refugees, much like many other European countries. The recent attacks have only helped to increase tensions between French citizens and Muslim immigrants.
Much of the world has stood in solidarity with Paris following the attacks. Many sporting events have held moments of silence, and several national landmarks around the world have been illuminated with the colors of the French flag to show support. U.S. President Barack Obama, in response to the attacks, was quoted as saying that “the skies have darkened,” and vowed to renew U.S. efforts in Syria in the fight against ISIS in the coming months. The attacks were the deadliest attacks in France since World War II and the deadliest in Europe since the 2004 Madrid train bombings. French President François Hollande will visit U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry next week.
-Sean Ryan ’18, Junior Politics/Opinions Editor