By Miriam Raftery
Photo: #PrayforParis, Twitter
November 15, 2015 (San Diego) – In the aftermath of the worst bombings in Paris since World War II, eight coordinated attacks Friday that killed at least 129 people and wounded hundreds more, France has launched massive air strikes against ISIS in Syria, NBC reports. The air strikes reportedly destroyed an ISIS command post, arms depot and terrorist training camp.
ISIS, or the Islamic State, claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attacks, calling them the “first of the storm,” according to a New York Times article. ISIS indicated the attacks were retaliation for French forces supporting a U.S.-led coalition against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile, people around the world have taken to social media to show solidarity with France.
President Barack Obama has pledged to do "whatever it takes to work with the French people and with nations around the world to bring these terroristsw to justice and to go after any terrorist networks that go after our people." The United States sent ammunition to fighters from the Syrian Arab Coalition battling ISIS in northern Syria, Reuters reports. President Obama has ordered all U.S. flags worldwide to be flown at half mast through Thursday to show respect for the victims of the attacks in Paris.
French President Francois Hollande has declared a national emergency, ordering troops into the streets and sealing the borders. He also directed the nation to hold three days of mourning, commencing with tolling of the bells at Notre Dame, NPR reports.
France 24 has been providing 24-hour coverage in the English language. In a story titled Paris attacks: what we know so far , France 24 reports that three teams of gunmen and suicide bombers were involved in the terrorist attacks, French prosecutors said Saturday. The attacks included simultaneous assaults on restaurants, a concert hall where 100 people were slain, and the national soccer stadium. Prosecutors believe the slaughter involved a multinational team with links to the Middle East, Belgium and possibly Germany, as well as French nationals.
At least one of the terror suspects was a French national, but Syrian passports were found near the bodies of two other suspects, according to the Telegraph. Reuters reports that a Syrian passport found by one of the gunmen who died in a Paris attack belonged to a refugee registered in several European countries last month including Greece the Balkan region, authorities said.
Three brothers are also believed to have been involved in the attacks, according to the Telegraph. One died, another is being questioned by police, and a third was questioned by French police shortly after the assaults. The third brother, Saleh Abdelslam, is now the focus of an international manhunt, officials told The Associated Press on Sunday.
In addition, German police arrested a man on November 5th after finding eight machine guns, several handguns and explosives in his vehicle. He was driving to Paris and is believed to have been part of the conspiracy, Christian Science Monitor reports.
The latest French terrorism attacks come less than year after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical publisher, and on a Jewish delicatessen.
Senior Iraqi intelligence officials claim they warned coalition countries of imminent assaults by Islamic State jihadists just one day before the Paris terrorist attacks, Associated Press reported.
The attacks could have been even worse. The Wall Street Journal reports that a suicide bomber had a ticket to the France-German soccer game that French President Hollande was attending, but security guards found his explosive vest at the gate and he detonated it outside the stadium.
The Jerusalem Post, in an editorial titled What can be learned from Paris’s black Friday the 13th, reports that the terrorists who executed the Paris attacks may have been part of an ISIS sleeper cell of European Islamic foreign fighters who returned from Syria and Iraq. But it is also possible that the plot was orchestrated by outside forces that infiltrated France, possibly masquerading as refugees. The Israeli newspaper editorial concludes, “Europe and France should reconsider and reassess their policies on foreign migrants, their border control of migrants entering their countries and their agreements to allow free travel from one country in Europe to another.”
But Nation of Change observes in a talking points piece titled Paris: Beirut in the heart of Europe? that just one day before the latest attacks in Paris, similar terrorist attacks occurred in Beirut, Lebanon, killing at least 41 people, predominantly Muslims. The piece concludes, “Let’s be clear: Muslims are NOT the problem, they are also victims. Jihadists are the problem. Far more Muslims than Westerners have suffered at the hands of ISIS, al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists.”
While ISIS and its supporters took to social media to celebrate the carnage, Muslim leaders around the world have issued statements condemning the Paris attacks, including the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, International Business reports. The Council on American-Muslim Relations also denounced the terror attacks.
To show solidarity with the people of France, cities around the world lit up landmarks in the French national colors, most poignantly, the new World Trade Center in New York. (View images at KNSD.)
In San Diego, people created a makeshift memorial in Balboa Park. San Diego State University took comfort in confirmation that all 34 of its students studying in France are safe.
But at California State University Long Beach, students and faculty held a vigil to mourn the death of CSU student Nohemi Gonzalez, the first American casualty announced after the Paris terror attacks. Campus president Jane Close Conoley issued this statement: "“Taking the life of an innocent is an assault on our hearts and on our world. Nohemi was an innocent of great promise, a light in our community."
She concluded, "We can’t help but experience the anguish felt by all those people of good will around the world suffering after these tragic attacks. Our hearts are one.”