Paris attacks, notebook: IS claims responsibility, world reacts

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By Eric Knecht
November 14, 2015

CAIRO (Reuters) – Islamic State claimed responsibility on Saturday for attacks that killed 127 people in Paris, saying it sent militants strapped with suicide bombing belts and carrying machine guns to various locations in the heart of the capital.

The attacks, described by France’s president as an act of war, were designed to show the country would remain in danger as long as it continued its current policies, Islamic State said in a statement.

“To teach France, and all nations following its path, that they will remain at the top of Islamic State’s list of targets, and that the smell of death won’t leave their noses as long as they partake in their crusader campaign,” said the group.

French President Francois Hollande said the violence was organised from abroad by Islamic State with internal help.

“Faced with war, the country must take appropriate action,” he said, without saying what that meant.

The attacks at a stadium, concert hall and cafes and restaurants in northern and eastern Paris were “an act of war committed by Daesh that was prepared, organised and planned from outside (of France)” with help from inside France, Hollande said, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

Earlier on Saturday, Islamic State redistributed a video, that first appeared on the internet a year ago, threatening to attack France if bombings of its fighters continued.

The group’s foreign media arm, Al-Hayat Media Centre, made threats through several militants who called on French Muslims to carry out attacks.

“As long as you keep bombing you will not live in peace. You will even fear traveling to the market,” said one of the militants, identified as Abu Maryam the Frenchman.

Hollande said the attacks were “an act of war”.

The location of the Islamic State fighters in the video was not clear and it was not possible to determine when it was filmed, but the message was unmistakable.

The fighters, who appeared to be French citizens, sat cross-legged in a group wearing fatigues and holding weapons in what appeared to be a wooded area. The video showed the militants burning passports.

“Indeed you have been ordered to fight the infidel wherever you find him – what are you waiting for?,” said Abu Maryam.

“Know that jihad in this time is obligatory on all.”

Another militant, identified as Abu Salman the Frenchman, said: “There are weapons and cars available and targets ready to be hit. Even poison is available, so poison the water and food of at least one of the enemies of Allah.”

“Terrorize them and do not allow them to sleep due to fear and horror,” he added.

Foreign fighters who join Islamic State, the group which controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria, are seen as especially dangerous because Western passports enable them to live in and travel to Western countries undetected.

Another militant in the video, identified as Abu Osama the Frenchman, appealed to Muslims living in France to head to Syria to wage jihad, in “a message from your French brothers”.

“Jihad is the path of Allah You strengthen their economy and pay taxes which they use to fight us, and kill our sister, our women and our children,” he said.

“Are you not embarrassed? Repent to your Lord and come join us. Because a day may come when the borders will be closed and you will be left only with tears and regret.”

(Additional reporting by Ahmed Tolba; Writing by Michael Georgy; editing by John Stonestreet)

 

 

Jesse Hughes of the rock band Eagles of Death Metal performs with drummer Joey Castillo (R) at Festival Supreme at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California in this October 25, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Alex Matthews

Jesse Hughes of the rock band Eagles of Death Metal performs with drummer Joey Castillo (R) at Festival Supreme at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California in this October 25, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Alex Matthews

By Steve Gorman
November 14, 2015

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The California-based rock band Eagles of Death Metal was in the midst of a European tour, promoting its fourth album release, when the musicians found themselves caught up in a terror attack at the Paris concert hall where they had begun to perform on Friday.

The Bataclan music hall was one of several entertainment sites around Paris targeted by gunmen and bombers in a coordinated assault that killed 127 people. Islamic State claimed responsibility on Saturday for the attacks.

A Paris city hall official said at least 87 young people were slaughtered at the Bataclan concert hall before anti-terrorist commandos launched an assault on the building.

Early indications were that members of the band, which also goes by the acronym EODM, were all safe. The group was formed in the late 1990s by lifelong friends Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme, the group’s only two permanent members.

Hughes’ mother, Jo Ellen Hughes, told a Reuters correspondent outside her home in Palm Desert, California, 125 miles east of Los Angeles, that she had spoken to her son by telephone and that he was unhurt but “very upset and shaken.”

“From my understanding, I think the whole band’s been accounted for,” she said, adding that she was not sure about the whereabouts or wellbeing of the rest of the entourage because the band and crew became separated in the pandemonium.

Hughes’ mother also said she believed the band had just gone on stage when the attack began, but she had no other details, except that the musicians were taken into protective custody at a police station afterward. A person close to the band confirmed that the group was onstage performing when the deadly assault began.

CO-FOUNDER ABSENT FROM SHOW

The group’s U.S.-based publicist, Jennifer Ballantyne of Universal Music Enterprises, told Reuters by email that Homme was not in Paris with the band on Friday. His absence was not unusual as Homme is known for sitting out many of the group’s live shows due to multiple commitments to other projects,

Ballantyne said another EODM member, guitarist-vocalist Eden Galindo, was reportedly safe and not inside the venue, citing a Facebook post by yet another associate that said: “Hey everyone. I just spoke with Eden. He is fine.”

The French band Red Lemons appeared to indicate Hughes’s fiancée, porn star Tuesday Cross, was with Hughes and unharmed, too, saying: “we were with your mates Jesse, Tuesday, the other musicians outside, they’re safe, too, they took a cab.”

A statement posted on the band’s Facebook page attributed to EODM, said: “We are still currently trying to determine the safety and whereabouts of all our band and crew. Our thoughts are with all of the people involved in this tragic situation.”

The bloodshed came about a month after the release of EODM’s fourth album, “Unzipped,” which was followed by the group’s appearance and performance on the late-night ABC television show “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

Homme, 42, and Hughes, 43, both from Palm Desert, met as teenagers. They perform with a wide range of others who play under the EODM banner, both in the studio and in live concerts, including actor-musician Jack Black and Dave Grohl, the Foo Fighters frontman and former Nirvana drummer.

According to band lore, the group took its name from Homme’s joking description of the Polish band Vader as “the Eagles of Death Metal,” a reference he and Hughes ultimately adopted for their own musical collaboration that critics say is more in keeping with garage band rock than death metal rock.

Homme also founded the band Queens of the Stone Age.

EODM had last performed Wednesday in Glasgow and was due to play next in Tourcoing, France, on Saturday.

A Paris concert scheduled for Saturday night by Irish band U2 was cancelled due to the state of emergency across France, according to a statement from HBO, which had planned to broadcast the show.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Omar Younis in Palm Desert; Editing by Ken Wills & Shri Navaratnam)

People lay flowers outside the French embassy near the Bradenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, November 14, 2015, after gunmen and bombers attacked restaurants, a concert hall and a sports stadium at locations across Paris on Friday. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

People lay flowers outside the French embassy near the Bradenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, November 14, 2015, after gunmen and bombers attacked restaurants, a concert hall and a sports stadium at locations across Paris on Friday. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

LONDON (Reuters) – World leaders responded to Friday’s bloody attacks in Paris with outrage and defiant pledges of solidarity, but several countries said they would tighten security, especially at their borders, and a few urged their citizens not to travel to France.

Islamic State claimed responsibility on Saturday for the coordinated assault by gunmen and bombers that killed 127 people across Paris. President Francois Hollande said the attacks amounted to an act of war against France.

Several countries said they had stepped up their own security in response to the attacks, including Belgium and Switzerland, which border France. France’s neighbour to the south, Spain, said it was maintaining its state of alert at level 4 on a five-point scale.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the Netherlands would tighten security at its borders and airports, and said the Dutch were “at war” with Islamic State.

“Our values and our rule of law are stronger than their fanaticism,” he said.

Belgium imposed additional frontier controls on road, rail and air arrivals from France and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel asked Belgians on Saturday not to travel to Paris unless necessary. Hong Kong also issued a travel alert for France.

Bulgaria imposed additional frontier controls on road and transit traffic.

London Metropolitan Police Service’s assistant commissioner Mark Rowley told the BBC that policing across Britain would be strengthened but said there would be no change to the threat level which currently stood at the second-highest category.

New York, Boston and other cities in the United States bolstered security on Friday night, but law enforcement officials said the beefed-up police presence was precautionary rather than a response to any specific threats.

The United States and Russia, divided on many issues including the war in Syria that has fuelled Islamist violence, voiced their support for the French people on Friday night.

“Once again we’ve seen an outrageous attempt to terrorise innocent civilians,” U.S. President Barack Obama said. “We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance that the government and the people of France need.”

“Those who think that they can terrorise the people of France or the values that they stand for are wrong,” Obama said.

CONDOLENCES

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to Hollande and all the people of France following the “horrible terrorist attacks in Paris”, the Kremlin said in a statement.

“Russia strongly condemns this inhumane killing and is ready to provide any and all assistance to investigate these terrorist crimes.”

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Egypt stood in solidarity with France and supported counter-terrorism efforts.

“Terrorism recognises no boundaries or religion, and claims the lives of innocent people in different parts of the world,” a statement from the presidency’s office said.

Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body condemned the attacks as contrary to Islamic values.

“Terrorists are not sanctioned by Islam and these acts are contrary to values of mercy it brought to the world,” said a statement by the Council of Senior Scholars carried by the Saudi Press Agency on Saturday.

The Western defence alliance NATO said it stood with France, a founder member. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, “We stand strong and united in the fight against terrorism. Terrorism will never defeat democracy.”

In Brussels the leaders of European Union institutions, which have been trying to coordinate security responses since the Islamist attacks in Paris in January, joined the chorus of support.

“I am confident the authorities and the French people will overcome this new trial,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.

But in a sign of potential divisions ahead, Poland’s European affairs minister designate said after the attacks in Paris, Warsaw would not be able to accept migrants under European Union quotas.

In September, Poland backed a European Union plan to share out 120,000 refugees, many of them fleeing the war in Syria, across the 28-nation bloc.

Now, “in the face of the tragic acts in Paris, we do not see the political possibilities to implement (this),” said Konrad Szymanski, who takes up his position on Monday as part of a government formed by last month’s election winner, the conservative and eurosceptic Law and Justice (PiS) party.

(Writing by Alastair Macdonald and Sonya Hepinstall; Editing by Giles Elgood)

PARIS (Reuters) – One of the gunmen who died after attacking a Paris concert hall on Friday had French nationality and was known to have ties with Islamist militants, a source close to the inquiry into a series of deadly attacks in Paris said on Saturday.

The same source said that the gunman’s body had been identified by his fingerprints and that he was from the Courcouronnes suburb south of Paris.

Earlier, sources close to the investigation said that a Syrian passport had been found near the body of one of the suicide bombers who blew himself up near a Paris soccer stadium in one of the other attacks.

French media also said that an Egyptian passport had been found near the body of a second suicide bomber at the site.

(Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry, Writing by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Andrew Callus)

A French national flag flying at half-mast is seen behind security cameras at the French embassy in Beijing, China, November 14, 2015, after attacks in Paris on Friday. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

A French national flag flying at half-mast is seen behind security cameras at the French embassy in Beijing, China, November 14, 2015, after attacks in Paris on Friday. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland cannot accept migrants relocated under a European Union quota system after the attacks in Paris without security guarantees, its incoming European affairs minister said on Saturday, in a sign that the attacks may seriously undermine EU refugee policy.

Konrad Szymanski will take up his post on Monday in the government formed by the winners of last month’s election, the conservative and eurosceptic Law and Justice (PiS) party.

“The attacks mean the necessity of an even deeper revision of the European policy towards the migrant crisis,” he said at a Saturday briefing.

“We’ll accept (refugees only) if we have security guarantees. This is a key condition, and today a question mark has been put next to it all around Europe,” he added without elaborating on what he meant by security guarantees.

In comments on right-leaning website wPolityce.pl, Szymanski reiterated that the incoming government did not agree with Poland’s commitment to take part in an EU-wide relocation of immigrants.

In September, Poland broke ranks with its ex-communist partners from the ‘Visegrad group’ – Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia – by backing a European Union plan to share out 120,000 refugees across the 28-nation bloc.

Under the plan, agreed by the outgoing centre-right, pro-EU government, Poland was to take in 4,500 refugees, adding to some 2,000 it has already accepted.

In a comment on RMF FM radio, Szymanski said: “The (EU Council) decision is valid for all EU countries, but its implementation is very hard to imagine today.”

The migrant crisis was a key issue in the Polish election campaign, with PiS strongly critical of the government’s decision.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris in which at least 127 people were killed.

Poland’s incoming Prime Minister Beata Szydlo lit a candle at the French Institute in the southern city of Cracow on Saturday.

At a briefing she refused to comment on the migrant issue, adding that she and her government will do everything “for the Polish nation to feel safe.”

(Reporting by Adrian Krajewski; Editing by Andrew Bolton)

ATHENS (Reuters) – The holder of a Syrian passport found near the body of one of the gunmen who died in Friday night’s attacks in Paris passed though Greece in October, a Greek minister said.

“The holder of the passport passed through the island of Leros on Oct. 3, 2015, where he was identified according to EU rules,” said Greece’s deputy minister in charge of police, Nikos Toscas.

Toscas did not know if the passport was checked by other countries through which the holder possibly passed on his way to France. A Greek police source said French authorities had asked other countries in Europe, including Greece, to check on the passport.

(Editing by Giles Elgood)

Police patrol the Gare du Nord train station the morning after a series of deadly attacks in Paris , November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Police patrol the Gare du Nord train station the morning after a series of deadly attacks in Paris , November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BERLIN (Reuters) – More extremists could be on the run in Germany after the deadly attacks in Paris, German Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere said on Saturday, adding German authorities had increased security measures at public places such as train stations.

De Maiziere also confirmed German police had contacted French authorities after arresting a man from Montenegro in Bavaria on Nov. 5, who was apparently heading to Paris in a car carrying guns and explosives.

He said the arrested man had a Paris address as a destination in his car’s navigation system, but that would not necessarily mean he was an accomplice of the attackers. He gave no specific reason for believing more extremists could be at large in Germany.

Speaking after an emergency meeting of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s security cabinet in Berlin, de Maiziere said it was not known yet if the eight known perpetrators from the Paris attacks had accomplices.

Since last night, German authorities had been advised to implement measures to heighten security, such as stricter controls for air and train travel, the minister said.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Kirsti Knolle and David Holmes)

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgian police on Saturday arrested a man during searches in a district of Brussels following attacks in Paris claimed by Islamic State, the Belgian public broadcaster RTBF reported.

The prosecutor’s office said it could not make any immediate comment.

RTBF reported that police searches were continuing in the Molenbeek district of Brussels.

Its website quoted a source close to the operations as saying there had been “between two and three searches, linked to the Paris attacks” and that one man had been arrested.

(Reporting by Barbara Lewis; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Militant Islamist fighters hold the flag of Islamic State (IS) while taking part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province in this June 30, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Stringer

Militant Islamist fighters hold the flag of Islamic State (IS) while taking part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province in this June 30, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Stringer

ANTALYA, Turkey (Reuters) – European Union governments will do everything they can to make France safe, their leaders said in a joint statement on Saturday after at least 127 people were killed in Paris as bombers and gunmen went on a deadly rampage on Friday night.

“It is an attack against us all. We will face this threat together with all necessary means and ruthless determination,” the leaders of EU governments and institutions said in a statement.

“Everything that can be done at European level to make France safe will be done. We will do what is necessary to defeat extremism, terrorism and hatred,” the statement said.

(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

A general view of the scene that shows rescue services personnel working near the covered bodies outside a restaurant following a shooting incident in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

A general view of the scene that shows rescue services personnel working near the covered bodies outside a restaurant following a shooting incident in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

LONDON (Reuters) – British police said the evacuation of London’s Gatwick Airport earlier on Saturday was connected to the discovery of a possible firearm in a bin and a 41 year-old man from France had been arrested.

Britain’s threat level remains its second-highest “severe” level after 127 people were killed in a series of gun and bomb attacks in Paris on Friday.

Police said that they had arrested the man from Vendome in France at Gatwick, 30 miles south of London, on suspicion of firearms offences and they were carrying out a forensic examination of the weapon, whose viability had yet to been established.

“The man is being interviewed as we try to determine the circumstances of the incident, but at this time it is too early to say what his intentions, if any, were,” Sussex Police detective superintendent Nick May said in a statement.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

Copyright Reuters 2015

Further reading:

France vows “merciless” response
Reuters

Scores killed in Paris attacks
Reuters, Report & Photo-gallery

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