Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Two years on in Paris

What we know. Two years after the terror attacks on Paris nightspots that left 130 people dead, seven people are in custody in France while key figures remain at large and may be dead.
Among the 10 jihadists who wreaked havoc on the French capital on November 13, 2015, the only survivor is Salah Abdeslam, who is refusing to talk to investigators.
 The probe into the Paris bloodbath, which was planned in Belgium, overlaps considerably with an investigation into attacks on the Brussels airport and metro four months later that claimed 32 lives.
 Abdeslam's capture in Belgium and transfer to France in April 2016 has not been the boon investigators had hoped for, since the 28-year-old petty criminal-turned-jihadist has refused to cooperate with the investigation.
 Against all expectations however, he has said he wants to appear at a trial in Brussels to face charges of attempted murder of police officers during his arrest in the Belgian capital, but there too he may refuse to answer questions.
 Most members of the jihadist cell responsible for both the Paris and the Brussels attacks have been killed or arrested. Requests have gone out across Europe as well as to Turkey and north Africa in an effort to piece together the network that enabled the conspirators to infiltrate the flow of migrants into Europe in the summer of 2015 and plan attacks ordered by the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
 What is known is that fifteen suspects have been charged or are being sought with arrest warrants.
 Six people besides Abdeslam are in custody in France including two men suspected of having been selected to take part in attacks: Adel Haddadi, an Algerian, and Muhammed Usman of Pakistan.
 The two men, who travelled from Syria along with two of the jihadists who attacked the national stadium on the outskirts of Paris, were arrested in Austria a month after the carnage.
 Three associates of Abdeslam accused of helping him flee to Belgium the day after the Paris attacks and a man accused of providing fake IDs to the jihadists are also being held in France.
 Five suspects are in custody in Belgium who are also wanted for trial in France. One of them, Mohamed Abrini, dubbed "the man in the hat" from CCTV video at the Brussels airport, was transferred briefly to France in January to be charged.

And Monday among the two year memorial services the aftermath is felt. Mayor Anne Hidalgo and President Macron attended a ceremony at the Bataclan
If the bloodbath sought to crush the city's much-envied lifestyle of pavement cafes it failed. Even as it mourned its dead, Paris defiantly resumed its traditional behaviour, recasting itself in its role as the City of Lights.
Tourist numbers this year have surged, testifying to the French capital's enduring allure. For the January-June period, hotels in the Paris region reported 16.4 million guests, the highest in a decade.
 But emotional scars remain, and even the physicality of the city has in some ways altered.
 "When I'm in the cinema, I tend not to linger just behind the entrance, and when I'm in the restaurant, I don't like to have my back to the window... I don't feel safe," said 39-year-old Aurore Humez, who admitted it was "horrible" to be so fearful.
 Parisians these days are used to the sight of security railings erected in front of concert halls and concrete bollards placed on pavements and outside schools to prevent ramming attacks by cars or trucks.

Armed soldiers, typically patrolling in groups of three, also now seem to be part of the city's landscape. France has mobillised 7,000 troops to strengthen security in a mission called Operation Sentinelle.

Police -- a major target for the string of smaller attacks that have occurred since November 2015 -- routinely don bulletproof vests while on patrol and tout a gun on their belt.

Workers, shoppers and tourists are expected to have their bags searched when they enter offices, department stores, the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral or other monuments and museums.
Cara - Tuesday


  1. Cara, the refusal of the Parisians to be robbed of their lifestyle is one that we New Yorkers identify with and strongly. The precautions are with us too, in every large city it seems. But the determination to stand up to the terrorists is also the same. Vive Paris!
    And Viva Cara today, your birthday!

  2. Thank you, Annamarie. Let's all raise a glass to resilience and survival and a good book on the TBR pile!

  3. The new normal is upon us, but it seems so much more manageable with a French accent! Happy birthday, Cara.