Freedom Attacked in Paris

Charlie Hebdo assassinations

Stephane Charbonnier
Stephane Charbonnier
Stephane Charbonnier, August 21, 1967 - January 7, 2015, known as Charb, was a French caricaturist and journalist; most known for his work with Charlie Hebdo where he became editor in 2009. He was known for his controversial and thought-provoking illustrations and caricatures. He was killed in the Charlie Hebdo shooting in January 2015. | Photo: Archives | Stephane Charbonnier, Charlie Hebdo, France, Terrorists, Editor, Satire, Violence, Islam, Glasses,

Cowardly extremists at Charlie Hebdo now dead

This story was ongoing as events unfolded and is not finalized. See your preferred news agency for continuing updates.:
JANUARY 9, 12:13 PM ET
Brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, the suspects in Wednesday?s terrorist massacre at French magazine Charlie Hebdo, are dead. Their deaths follow a two-day manhunt and a siege, where they held one person hostage, at a printing house 20 miles outside Paris.

French police and special operators apparently coordinated their gunfire and explosions with those at another site, a kosher supermarket where five hostages were held. All hostages at both sites were rescued safely, and the grocery store attacker was killed.

The French interior ministry deployed over 88,000 officers to the two sites.

The attack at the grocery store, Hyper Cacher (?Super Kosher?), was linked to the fatal shooting of a policewoman Thursday morning. The store is in Porte de Vincennes, an east Paris suburb, while the Kouachi brothers fled to the town of Dammartin-en-Go?le, about 20 miles from central Paris.

JANUARY 7, 2015 1:00 PM ET
Police are hunting three French nationals, including two brothers from the Paris region, after suspected Islamist gunmen killed 12 people at a satirical magazine on Wednesday, a police official and government source said.

The hooded attackers stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly known for lampooning Islam and other religions, in the most deadly militant attack on French soil in decades.

French police staged a huge manhunt for the attackers who escaped by car after shooting dead some of France's top cartoonists as well as two police officers. About 800 soldiers were brought in to shore up security across the capital.

Police issued a document to forces across the region saying the three men were being sought for murder in relation to the Charlie Hebdo attack. The document, reviewed by a Reuters correspondent, named them as
  • Said Kouachi, born in 1980
  • Cherif Kouachi, born in 1982
  • Hamyd Mourad, born in 1996

The police source said one of them had been identified by his identity card which had been left in the getaway car.

The Kouachi brothers were from the Paris region while Mourad was from the area of the northeastern city of Reims, the government source told Reuters.

Anti-terrorism police were preparing an operation in Reims, the police source said, declining to give more details.

The police source said one of the brothers had previously been tried on terrorism charges.

Cherif Kouachi was charged with criminal association related to a terrorist enterprise in 2005 after he had been arrested before leaving for Iraq to join Islamist militants. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2008, according to French media.

During the attack, one of the assailants was captured on video outside the building shouting "Allahu Akbar!" (God is Greatest) as shots rang out. Another walked over to a police officer lying wounded on the street and shot him point-blank with an assault rifle, before the two calmly climbed into a black car and drove off.

A police union official said there were fears of further attacks, and described the scene in the offices as carnage, with a further four wounded fighting for their lives.

Tens of thousands joined impromptu rallies across France in memory of the victims and support for freedom of expression. The government declared the highest state of alert, tightening security at transport hubs, religious sites, media offices and department stores as the search for the assailants got under way.

Some Parisians expressed fears about the effect of the attack on community relations in France, which has Europe's biggest Muslim population.

"This is bad for everyone - particularly for Muslims despite the fact that Islam is a fine religion. It risks making a bad situation worse," Cecile Electon, an arts worker who described herself as an atheist, told Reuters at a vigil on Paris's Place de la Republique attended by 35,000 people.

Cherif and Said Kouachi
Cherif and Said Kouachi

Cherif Kouachi, left, and Said Kouachi, right, are suspected to have stormed the Paris offices of a weekly satirical magazine known for lampooning radical Islam, killing the Charlie Hebdo staff, it's editor Stephane Charbonni, and security police for the publication. One of the men was captured on video shouting "Allah!" as the fired their AK47's. | Cherif Kouachi, Said Kouachi, Charlie Hebdo, Paris, France, Terrorists, Violence, Islam,

Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekly) is well known for courting controversy with satirical attacks on political and religious leaders of all faiths and has published numerous cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad. Jihadists online repeatedly warned that the magazine would pay for its ridicule.

The last tweet on its account mocked Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the militant Islamic State, which has taken control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria and called for "lone wolf" attacks on French soil.

There was no claim of responsibility. However, a witness quoted by 20 Minutes daily newspaper said one of the assailants cried out before getting into his car: "Tell the media that it is al Qaeda in Yemen!"

Supporters of Islamic State and other jihadist groups hailed the attack on Internet sites. Governments throughout Europe have expressed fear that fighters returning from Iraq or Syria could launch attacks in their home countries and may now review their own security.

"Today the French Republic as a whole was the target," President Francois Hollande said in a prime-time evening TV address, declaring a national day of mourning on Thursday.

An amateur video broadcast by French television stations shows two hooded men all in black outside the building. One of them spots a wounded policeman lying on the ground, hurries over to him and shoots him dead at point-blank range with a rifle.

In another clip on Television station iTELE, the men are heard shouting in French: "We have killed Charlie Hebdo. We have avenged the Prophet Mohammad."

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said the assailants killed a man at the entrance of the building to force entry. They then headed to the second floor and opened fire on an editorial meeting attended by eight journalists, a policeman tasked with protecting the magazine's editorial director and a guest.

"What we saw was a massacre. Many of the victims had been executed, most of them with wounds to the head and chest," Patrick Hertgen, an emergencies services medic called out to treat the injured, told Reuters.

A Reuters reporter saw groups of armed policeman patrolling around department stores in the shopping district and there was an armed gendarme presence outside the Arc de Triomphe.

"There is a possibility of other attacks and other sites are being secured," police union official Rocco Contento said.

U.S. President Barack Obama described the attack as cowardly and evil, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel was among European leaders condemning the shooting.

The dead included co-founder Jean "Cabu" Cabut and editor-in-chief Stephane "Charb" Charbonnier. A firebomb attack had already gutted the old headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in November 2011 after it put an image of the Prophet Mohammad on its cover in what it described as a Shariah edition.

France last year reinforced its anti-terrorism laws and was on alert after calls from Islamist militants to attack its citizens and interests in reprisal for French military strikes on Islamist strongholds in the Middle East and Africa.

Dalil Boubakeur, head of the French Council of the Muslim faith (CFCM), condemned an "immensely barbaric act also against democracy and freedom of the press" and said its perpetrators could not claim to be true Muslims.

Rico, a friend of Cabut, who joined the Paris vigil, said his friend had paid for people misunderstanding his humour.

"These attacks are only going to get worse. It's like a tsunami, it won't stop and what's happening today will probably feed the National Front," he told Reuters.

The far-right National Front has won support on discontent over immigration to France. Some fear Wednesday's attack could be used to feed anti-Islamic agitation.

National Front leader Marine Le Pen said it was too early to draw political conclusions but added: "The increased terror threat linked to Islamic fundamentalism is a simple fact."

Germany's new anti-immigration movement said the attack highlighted the threat of Islamist violence. Merkel has condemned the PEGIDA movement, which drew a record crowd of 18,000 to its latest rally on Monday in Dresden.

The last major attack in Paris was in the mid-1990s when the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) carried out a spate of attacks, including the bombing of a commuter train in 1995 which killed eight people and injured 150. A series of bombings of Parisian shops by Lebanese extremists in 1986 claimed 12 lives.

France's deadliest attack was in 1961 after a French dissident paramilitary organization opposed to France's withdrawal from Algeria blew up a train killing 28 people.

(Additional reporting By Brian Love, Sophie Louet, Ingrid Melander, Gerard Bon, Dominique Rodriguez and Ali Abdelaty in Cairo; Writing by John Irish and Mark John; Editing by Ralph Boulton and David Stamp)

Immediate reactions:
The attack has been widely condemned by the French and other governments. French President Francois Hollande addressed media outlets at the scene of the shooting and called it "undoubtedly a terrorist attack", but added that "several [other] terrorist attacks were thwarted in recent weeks". Other political leaders condemned the attack, including European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kosovan President Atifete Jahjaga, U.S. President Barack Obama, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Queen Elizabeth II, the Swiss Federal Council, the government of Spain, and the Vatican.

Many condolences and notable statements have also been offered by international leaders and governments:

  • United States: President Barack Obama called the shootings horrific while offering his support, "France is America's oldest ally, and has stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States in the fight against terrorists who threaten our shared security and the world. Time and again, the French people have stood up for the universal values that generations of our people have defended. France, and the great city of Paris, where this outrageous attack took place, offer the world a timeless example that will endure well beyond the hateful vision of these killers."
  • Canada: Prime Minister Stephen Harper described the attacks as barbaric violence and added that, "Canada and its allies will not be intimidated and will continue to stand firmly together against terrorists who would threaten the peace, freedom and democracy our countries so dearly value. Canadians stand with France on this dark day."
  • Egypt: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry offered his condolences on behalf of Egypt, "Egypt stands by France in confronting terrorism, an international phenomenon that targets the world's security and stability and which requires co-ordinated international efforts to eradicate."
  • Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel called the attack an abhorrent act and added that it was, "Not just an attack on the life of French citizens and the internal security of France. It also represents an attack on freedom of opinion and of the press, a core element of our free and democratic culture."
  • Russia: President Vladimir Putin offered a firm stance against terrorism, "We decisively condemn this cynical crime. We reaffirm our readiness to continue active co-operation in combating the threat of terrorism."
  • United Kingdom: British Prime Minister David Cameron reaffirmed his support, "This House and this country stand united with the French people in our opposition to all forms of terrorism and we stand squarely for free speech and democracy. These people will never be able to take us off those values."

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About Charlie Hebdo
Charlie Hebdo (French for Charlie Weekly) is a French satirical weekly newspaper, featuring cartoons, reports, polemics, and jokes. Irreverent and stridently non-conformist in tone, the publication is strongly anti religious and left-wing, publishing articles on the extreme right, Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, politics, culture, etc. According to its former editor, Stephane "Charb" Charbonnier, the magazine's editorial viewpoint reflects "all components of left wing pluralism, and even abstainers".

It first appeared from 1969 to 1981; it folded, but was resurrected in 1992. Charb was the most recent editor, holding the post from 2009 until his death in the attack on the magazine's offices in 2015. His predecessors were Francois Cavanna (1969-1981) and Philippe Val (1992-2009).

The magazine is published every Wednesday, with special editions issued on an unscheduled basis.

In 1960, Georges "Professeur Choron" Bernier and Francois Cavanna launched a monthly magazine entitled Hara-Kiri. Choron acted as the director of publication and Cavanna as its editor. Eventually Cavanna gathered together a team which included Roland Topor, Fred, Jean-Marc Reiser, Georges Wolinski, Gabe(fr), and Cabu. After an early reader's letter accused them of being "dumb and nasty" ("bete et mechant"), the phrase became an official slogan for the magazine and made it into everyday language in France.

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Updated Feb 1, 2018 7:50 AM EST | More details


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