12 Dead In Terror Attack On Paris Satire Magazine

Jan 07, 2015 at 9:15 AM ET

UPDATE: After speaking to sources inside the French police, The Guardian’s Kim Wilsher is reporting that authorities have three suspects in custody. This comes after a day-long manhunt that saw considerable sections of Paris and major thoroughfares cordoned off or shut down. Even so, The Guardian also reports that, “interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, addressed the media not long ago and did not mention arrests.” Currently, France remains at its highest security level.

Armed men in balaclavas stormed the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, spraying a news meeting with a hail of bullets, killing 12 and wounding at least 11 more. The French interior minister told AFP France there were three attackers involved. The attack was apparently revenge for Charlie Hebdo’s satirical portrayals of the prophet Muhammad, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and other Islamic figures. Two of the attackers, captured on video and apparently wearing either tactical or bulletproof vests, were seen holding AK-103 assault rifles in the street near the Charlie Hebdo office.

The French prime minister Manuel Valls visited the publication’s offices along with security forces Wednesday afternoon, tweeted Marc Preél, a reporter for AFP. Preél live tweeted the scene outside the office in the hours following the attack.

Tragically, the last cartoon Charlie Hebdo tweeted before the attack mocked Baghdadi. Text over a cartoon of Baghdadi says, “The wishes of al-Baghdadi: And good health to you!” in reference to the commonly used French greeting, “Happy New Year and good health to you.”

Video of the attack taken by a bystander from above shows the two men decked out in black, one with a tan chest rig, and the other with his rifle slung loosely, shooting mercilessly at a gendarme (French police officer) on the sidewalk in broad daylight. The cop visibly puts his hands up in surrender while he is lying on the ground, at which point one of the men walks over and shoots him in the head. The attackers then get into a small, black Citroën hatchback and drive away.

Immediately after the video’s publication, journalists and others began interrogating the footage and pics from the scene for any clues that might shed light on the identify of the attackers. The attackers’ demeanor and dress were cited as evidence that they were not random attackers, rather people who had some military training.

French publication Humanite reported the gunmen said they were members of Al Qaeda. While that association is not verified, it is evident they are trained actors. Many pointed to a photo of bullet holes fired into a police car windshield, which appeared to back up assertions that the gunmen were skilled shots. A cluster of bullet holes grouped closely together, apparently shot at a distance, is being touted as evidence that the attackers were capable handlers of assault weapons.

French President Francois Hollande said a number of terror attacks had been prevented “in recent weeks.” The terror alert in France has been raised to the highest level.

Meanwhile, supporters of the attackers on Twitter gloated, using the hashtag #إنتقمنا_للرسول, which loosely translates as “revenge for the prophet.” The below tweet says, “Your drawings will help you in hell. May God punish you as France is the most vile crusading entity.” It features pictures of two of the slain journalists, from left: Publisher Stéphane Charbonnier and cartoonist Jean Cabut (known as Cabu).

This celebration of the attack on the publication differentiates it from the hostage siege in Sydney, Australia, staged by lone wolf Man Haron Monis in mid-December. Monis shot two hostages and himself in the name of Islamic extremism, but high-profile ISIS members wanted nothing to do with him.