Charlie Hebdo attack: 12 dead after attack on newspaper office - Macleans.ca
 

Charlie Hebdo attack: 12 dead after attack on newspaper office

French President Francois Hollande called the slayings a terrorist attack


 
Police have confirmed that Charb, publishing director of Charlie Hebdo, was among those killed on Wednesday morning. He's shown here  in September 2012. (Michael Euler, AP Photo)

Police have confirmed that Charb, publishing director of Charlie Hebdo, was among those killed on Wednesday morning. He’s shown here in a photo from September 2012. (Michael Euler, AP Photo)

PARIS — Masked gunmen stormed the offices of a satirical newspaper that caricatured the Prophet Muhammad, methodically killing 12 people Wednesday, including the editor, before escaping in a car. It was France’s deadliest terrorist attack in half a century.

Shouting “Allahu akbar!” as they fired, the men also spoke flawless, unaccented French in the military-style noon-time attack on the weekly paper Charlie Hebdo, located near Paris’ Bastille monument. The publication’s depictions of Islam have drawn condemnation and threats before — it was firebombed in 2011 — although it also satirized other religions and political figures.

President Francois Hollande said it was a terrorist act “of exceptional barbarism,” adding that other attacks have been thwarted in France in recent weeks. Fears have been running high in France and elsewhere in Europe that jihadis returning from conflicts in Syria and Iraq will stage attacks at home.

In a sombre address to the nation Wednesday night, Hollande pledged to hunt down the killers, and pleaded with his compatriots to come together in a time of insecurity and suspicion.

“Let us unite, and we will win,” he said. “Vive la France!”

Related reading: Charlie Hebdo has history of drawing ire

France raised its security alert to the highest level and reinforced protective measures at houses of worship, stores, media offices and transportation. Schools closed across Paris, although thousands of people jammed Republique Square near the site of the shooting to honour the victims, waving pens and papers reading “Je suis Charlie” — “I am Charlie.” Similar rallies were held in London’s Trafalgar Square as well as Madrid, Berlin and Brussels.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the shootings, which also left 11 people wounded — four of them critically — and was condemned by world leaders as an attack on freedom of expression. Supporters of the militant Islamic State group praised it.

Clad all in black with hoods and carrying assault rifles, the attackers forced one of the cartoonists arriving at the office building with her young daughter to open the door with a security code.

The staff was in an editorial meeting and the gunmen headed straight for the paper’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier — widely known by his pen name Charb — killing him and his police bodyguard first, said Christophe Crepin, a police union spokesman. Minutes later, two men strolled out to a black car waiting below, calmly firing on a police officer, with one gunman shooting him in the head as he writhed on the ground, according to video and a man who watched in fear from his home across the street.

The witness, who refused to allow his name to be used because he was afraid for his safety, said the attackers were so methodical that he first mistook them for France’s elite anti-terrorism forces. Then they fired on the officer.

“They knew exactly what they had to do and exactly where to shoot. While one kept watch and checked that the traffic was good for them, the other one delivered the final coup de grace,” he said. “They ran back to the car. The moment they got in, the car drove off almost casually.”

The witness added: “I think they were extremely well-trained, and they knew exactly down to the centimetre and even to the second what they had to do.”

Eight journalists, a guest and two police officers were killed, said Paris prosecutor Francois Molins, giving a partial breakdown of the 12 dead. Among those killed were Bernard Maris, an economist who was a contributor to the newspaper and was heard regularly on French radio, and cartoonists Georges Wolinski and Berbard Verlhac, better known as Tignous.

“Hey! We avenged the Prophet Muhammad! We killed Charlie Hebdo,” one of the men shouted in French, according to video shot from a nearby building and broadcast on French TV. Other video showed two gunmen in black at a crossroads who appeared to fire down one of the streets. A cry of “Allahu akbar!” — Arabic for “God is great” — could be heard amid the gunshots.

The video showed the killers moving deliberately and calmly, with one even bendnig over to toss a fallen shoe back into the small black car before it sped off. The car was later found abandoned in northern Paris, the prosecutor said, and they hijacked a Renault Clio. There were conflicting accounts of whether the manhunt was for two or three attackers.

Corinne Rey, the cartoonist who said she was forced to let the gunmen in, said the men spoke fluent French and claimed to be from al-Qaida. In an interview with the newspaper l’Humanite, she said the entire shooting lasted perhaps five minutes, and she hid under a desk.

Related reading: Scott Gilmore on the Paris shootings: Leaving Islam behind

The security analyst group Stratfor said the gunmen appeared to be well-trained, “from the way they handled their weapons, moved and shot. These attackers conducted a successful attack, using what they knew, instead of attempting to conduct an attack beyond their capability, failing as a result.”

Both al-Qaida and the Islamic State group have repeatedly threatened to attack France. Just minutes before the attack, Charlie Hebdo had tweeted a satirical cartoon of the Islamic State’s leader giving New Year’s wishes.

Charlie Hebdo has been repeatedly threatened for its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and other sketches. Its offices were firebombed in 2011 after an issue featured a caricature of the prophet on its cover. Nearly a year later, the publication again published Muhammad caricatures, drawing denunciations from the Muslim world because Islam prohibits the publication of drawings of the prophet.

Another cartoon, released in this week’s issue and entitled “Still No Attacks in France,” had a caricature of a jihadi fighter saying “Just wait — we have until the end of January to present our New Year’s wishes.” Charb was the artist.

“This is the darkest day of the history of the French press,” said Christophe DeLoire of Reporters Without Borders.

In the winter 2014 edition of the al-Qaida magazine Inspire, a so-called chief describing where to use a new bomb said: “Of course the first priority and the main focus should be on America, then the United Kingdom, then France and so on.”

In 2013, the magazine specifically threatened Charb and included an article titled “France the Imbecile Invader.”

An al-Qaida tweeter who communicated Wednesday with AP said the group is not claiming responsibility, but called the attack “inspiring.”

President Barack Obama offered U.S. help in pursuing the gunmen, saying they had attacked freedom of expression. He offered prayers and support for France, which he called “America’s oldest ally.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron said his country stood united with France,

“We stand squarely for free speech and democracy. These people will never be able to take us off those values,” Cameron said in the House of Commons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also condemned the attack as a “cynical crime,” and pledged co-operation in fighting terrorism.

“I think all of Europe is crying today,” said Italian Premier Matteo Renzi. “All the free world is crying. All men and women who believe in freedom and reason are crying.”

Salman Rushdie, who spent years in hiding after his novel, The Satanic Verses, drew a death edict from Iran’s religious authorities, said all must stand with Charlie Hebdo “to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity.”

Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the Union of French mosques, condemned the “hateful act,” and urged Muslims and Christians “to intensify their actions to give more strength to this dialogue, to make a united front against extremism.”

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation based in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, which represents 57 Muslim-majority nations, added its condemnation, saying that violence and radicalism were the biggest enemies of Islam and went against all its fundamental principles and values.

On social media, supporters of militant Islamic groups praised the move. One self-described Tunisian loyalist of al-Qaida and the Islamic State group tweeted that the attack was well-deserved revenge against France.

The hashtag #JeSuisCharlie was trending as people expressed support for the weekly and for journalistic freedom. The weekly’s website collapsed earlier Wednesday but was later restored.

Top government officials held an emergency meeting and Hollande planned a nationally televised address later Wednesday evening.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which also left four people critically wounded, and was condemned by world leaders as an attack on freedom of expression, but praised by supporters of the militant Islamic State group.

Related reading: Cartoonists pay tribute to Charlie Hebdo

Clad all in black with hoods and carrying machine-guns, the attackers forced one of the cartoonists arriving at the office building with her young daughter to open the door with a security code.

The staff was in an editorial meeting and the gunmen headed straight for the paper’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier — widely known by his pen name Charb — killing him and his police bodyguard first, said Christophe Crepin, a police union spokesman. Minutes later, two men strolled out to a black car waiting below, calmly firing on a police officer, with one gunman shooting him in the head as he writhed on the ground, according to video and a man who watched in fear from his home across the street.

The witness, who refused to allow his name to be used because he feared for his safety, said the attackers were so methodical he first mistook them for France’s elite anti-terrorism forces. Then they fired on the officer.

“They knew exactly what they had to do and exactly where to shoot. While one kept watch and checked that the traffic was good for them, the other one delivered the final coup de grace,” he said. “They ran back to the car. The moment they got in, the car drove off almost casually.”

The witness added: “I think they were extremely well-trained, and they knew exactly down to the centimetre and even to the second what they had to do.”

Eight journalists, a guest and two police officers were killed, said Paris prosecutor Francois Molins. Among the dead were Bernard Maris, an economist who a contributor to the newspaper and was heard regularly on French radio, and cartoonists Georges Wolinski and Berbard Verlhac, better known as Tignous.

“Hey! We avenged the Prophet Muhammad! We killed Charlie Hebdo,” one of the men shouted in French, according to a video shot from a nearby building and broadcast on French TV. Other video showed two gunmen in black at a crossroads who appeared to fire down one of the streets. A cry of “Allahu akbar!” — Arabic for “God is great”— could be heard among the gunshots.

The video showed the killers moving deliberately and calmly. One even bent over to toss a fallen shoe back into the small black car before it sped off. The car was later found abandoned in northern Paris, the prosecutor said, and they hijacked a Renault Clio. There were conflicting accounts of whether the manhunt was for two or three attackers.

Corinne Rey, the cartoonist who said she was forced to let the gunmen in, said the men spoke fluent French and claimed to be from al-Qaida. In an interview with the newspaper l’Humanite, she said the entire shooting lasted perhaps five minutes, and she hid under a desk.

Related reading: Photos from the scene of the Charlie Hebdo attack

The security analyst group Stratfor said the gunmen appeared to be well-trained, “from the way they handled their weapons, moved and shot. These attackers conducted a successful attack, using what they knew, instead of attempting to conduct an attack beyond their capability, failing as a result.”

Both al-Qaida and the Islamic State group have repeatedly threatened to attack France. Just minutes before the attack, Charlie Hebdo had tweeted a satirical cartoon of the Islamic State’s leader giving New Year’s wishes.

Charlie Hebdo has been repeatedly threatened for its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and other sketches. Its offices were firebombed in 2011 after an issue featured a caricature of the prophet on its cover. Nearly a year later, the publication again published Muhammad caricatures, drawing denunciations from the Muslim world because Islam prohibits the publication of drawings of its founder.

Another cartoon, released in this week’s issue and entitled “Still No Attacks in France,” had a caricature of a jihadi fighter saying “Just wait — we have until the end of January to present our New Year’s wishes.” Charb was the artist.

“This is the darkest day of the history of the French press,” said Christophe DeLoire of Reporters Without Borders.

In the winter 2014 edition of the al-Qaida magazine Inspire, a so-called chief describing where to use a new bomb said: “Of course the first priority and the main focus should be on America, then the United Kingdom, then France and so on.”

In 2013, the magazine specifically threatened Charb and included an article titled “France the Imbecile Invader.”

An al-Qaida tweeter who communicated Wednesday with AP said the group is not claiming responsibility, but called the attack “inspiring.”

President Barack Obama offered U.S. help in pursuing the gunmen, saying they had attacked freedom of expression. He offered prayers and support for France, which he called “America’s oldest ally.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron said his country stood united with France. “We stand squarely for free speech and democracy. These people will never be able to take us off those values,” Cameron said in the House of Commons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also condemned the attack as a “cynical crime,” and pledged co-operation in fighting terrorism.

Salman Rushdie, who spent years in hiding after his novel, The Satanic Verses, drew a death edict from Iran’s religious authorities, said all must stand with Charlie Hebdo “to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity.”

Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the Union of French mosques, condemned the “hateful act,” and urged Muslims and Christians “to intensify their actions to give more strength to this dialogue, to make a united front against extremism.”

On social media, supporters of militant Islamic groups praised the move. One self-described Tunisian loyalist of al-Qaida and the Islamic State group tweeted that the attack was well-deserved revenge against France.

The hashtag #JeSuisCharlie was trending as people expressed support for the weekly and for journalistic freedom. The weekly’s website collapsed earlier Wednesday but was later restored.

___

Associated Press writers Samuel Petrequin, Angela Charlton, Sylvie Corbet and John Leicester contributed from Paris; Sarah el-Deeb contributed from Cairo.


 

Charlie Hebdo attack: 12 dead after attack on newspaper office

  1. The newspaper knew what it was doing….in fact they went out of their way to be attacked.

    Faux outrage…no sympathy.

    • Emily, the point is NOT that they published cartoons offensive to Muhammed. This particular magazine published cartoons about all religions, Jewish, Catholic/Christian…and about politicians. The POINT is that it is ONLY MUSLIM”S that go nuts and start killing people.

      As for your lack of sympathy…….there are no surprises there either. You didn’t sympathize when a three year old girl had her head cut off by ISIS fanatics and put on a stake. You didn’t sympathize when parents were forced to bury their children alive by Islamic fanatics.

      Your sympathy seems only to extend to Palestinian terrorists who are killed by the IDF in self defence.

      Frankly, NOTHING you say is a surprise. We all count on you to bring the crazy.

      • Sorry James, you can’t force your values on other people.

        And lying won’t help you either.

        • Calling you a crazy is not lying. Anyone who’s read your posts will consider it factually correct.

          As for forcing my values on anyone….sorry. I don’t care what people think as long as it isn’t a threat to me.

          As usual, you have it bass-ackwards.

          Slaughtering cartoonists and journalists who make fun of what you believe in is more akin to forcing your values on someone.

          but you just take your pills and keep trying.

          • If you want to spend your whole life being silly, feel free.

            However freedom of the press and being able to mock anything are western values.

            No sympathy.

          • “…freedom of the press and being able to mock anything are western values.”

            Yes they are. And if they live in France they live in a Western world. Their choice. So they should deal with it and leave – not massacre those they disagree with.

            You’re being particularly obtuse and contrarian today. More than normal – and that’s saying something.

          • And if they lived in Mecca they’d still live in the western world in their minds and do the cartoons.

            Stop drawing lines in the sand Bram….it’s no way to persuade anyone of anything.

          • Emily wrote:

            “Ask an abortion doctor about being killed.

            Ask a native woman.

            Ask a gay…or a Jew.

            ‘In our society we have freedom of speech’”

            Isn’t that cute.

            Emily pretending she would consider talking to a Jew.

        • Seems to me, when you kill someone for expressing an opinion you are most definitely trying to “force your values on other people.” Think you have you wires seriously crossed this time if you think that murder is an acceptable answer to a political cartoon.

          • We try to squelch people for stating their opinions all the time Bram.

            Stop trying to dress up a deliberate insult as some noble march for freedom.

          • In our civilization, at this point in time, we do NOT kill people because we disagree with them. They don’t get a free pass on doing so because they are Muslim.

            Muslims weren’t the only ones who were, as you put it, “deliberately insulted” by the magazine; They ARE satirists, after all. But Muslims (or to be more precise, a certain radical subset of them – I don’t assume they all hold such views) were the only ones who decided satire deserves the death penalty.

            In our society, we have freedom of speech. Yes, there are some constraints (some legal; some social), and some actions we can take if we feel they need constraining. If you don’t like what someone says, you can take any number of actions, from complaining or countering their position, to boycotting their product, to – if a legal line is crossed – taking them to court.

            You seem to think mass murder should be part of that list. I think that makes you as insane as those who pulled the trigger.

          • Ask an abortion doctor about being killed.

            Ask a native woman.

            Ask a gay…or a Jew.

            ‘In our society we have freedom of speech’

            Not really.

          • First, Em, not one of those are about freedom of SPEECH. Second, I don’t condone violence against any of them – and as you have made clear on many occasions, neither do you.

            So your current stance is extremely hypocritical, quite amusing… and for you, par for the course.

          • You have no idea what my ‘stance’ is, Bram.

            You never have.

            You’re always too busy talking to hear anyone else.

          • Your stance on this is easily set out:

            if any of those you mentioned were killed for their actions (in the first case) or simply for who they are (in the others) you would be labeling them terrorists and excoriating them – and if you could find ANY link to religion, blaming their faith for their acts even if they specifically stated religion had nothing to do with their actions (remember our exchange on those you defined a Christian terrorists a month or so ago?).

            Yet in THIS instance you say “no sympathy”.

            Complete and utter hypocrisy.

          • Yer absolutely nutz, Bram.

            I’ve never labelled anyone as a ‘terrorist’…..sorry. It’s a tactic, not a group.

            As to ‘christian terrorists’ I gave you an url listing them. There was no ‘debate’

            It would never occur to me to debate a crazy person.

    • Nice to see the good folks at Macleans waited a full 7 minutes before removing my previous posts.

      Apparently the attack in Paris exposed more cowards in the media.

    • So you oppose freedom of speech? Not surprised, given the way you frequently attack anyone who dares to express an opinion that differs from yours.

      • All of my opinions are attacked….not because of their content….but because I express them as a female.

        • You are cannot comment as a female being attacked because you are mentally lacking in any sense ,common or other wise. I am female and I think you are an ignorant bitch.(sorry for the last word)

          • I’m a ‘free bitch’ baby…..you are a prairie muffin. Sorry.

        • Emily,

          Our view of you has NOTHING to do with you being an overweight, middle aged, bitter spinster on social assistance.

          Your opinions are attacked…because you are a complete idiot. How you pee has nothing to do with it.

          • The topic here is a shooting in Paris, not your fantasies about me. That is irrelevant.

            Grow up, eejit.

        • Assume a male identity and test your theory. I bet you won’t notice any difference.

          I can guarantee that opinions as whacko as yours would be criticized by me regardless of your sex. Crazy is not a gender issue.

          • I have done so. Even on here.

            When people disagreed with my opinions as a male….they named the opinion, and stated why. We could then have a conversation.

            Whenever I state an opinion as a female, a clown car shows up…and act like clowns.

          • Can’t speak for the others, but my responses to you have nothing to do with your sex. Just the utter ridiculousness of so many of your statements.

            And your reaction to my comments are similar; after so many years, we tend to get harsh with each other right off the top because of our history. You have even attacked me when I AGREED with you.

            I don’t assume your responses have anything to do with my sex; if you think mine have anything to do with your gender, you are seriously mistaken.

          • No, I’m well aware of what you do….which is why I have never taken you seriously.

  2. Dear citizens of France.

    I sympathize with your loss, however you should not be surprised.

    This is what happens when a country actively promotes anti-semitism, and once the Jews of your nation take the hint and leave for Israel, you replace them with Muslim’s.

    How do you like your new neighbours now?

    NOTE: The protests that will likely result from this attack will be as follows:

    Protest # 1 – French citizens who believe in freedom will come out to support the survivors, and condemn the terrorist attacks.

    Protest # 2 – French “progressives” will far outnumber protest # 1 participants, and will come out in protest to support French Muslim’s against the “backlash” that they know will not come.

    Somewhere down the line….the French press or politicians will somehow blame the attacks on the United States or George Bush.

    Things are about to get interesting. When French Jews are attacked…..the French politicians or French press don’t say much. These victims were NOT Jewish. Let’s see what the French do now?

    (I suspect not much with Hollande in charge)

  3. Hoping Maclean’s didn’t intentionally crop the photo of Charbonnier to remove the drawing of Mohammed. If so, that’s pretty sad.

    • Ivan,

      You hit the nail on the head. That was the first thing I noticed about the photo.

      and you are right. The folks at Macleans are cowards and pathetically predictable.

      They need to ditch their editor, and hire someone with the balls needed for the job. Ezra Levant would be a good start. He’s already shown he will do it regardless of the threat.