International Travel Security Incident: Paris, France

International Travel Security Update: Terror Attack in Paris, France

The latest international travel security incident occurred on January 7th in Paris, France.  Terrorists launched an attack that resulted in the loss of 17 lives. The terrorists, a group of radicalized Islamic militants, targeted the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish grocery store. After the attacks, French citizens took to the streets in protest, resulting in the largest demonstrations in French history. People protested the attacks with signs that read, “Freedom” and “I am Charlie” (Charlie Hebdo) alongside world leaders like Angela Merkel and Benjamin Netanyahu. The recent attacks by Islamic militants have focused attention on the millions of Muslim immigrants living in France. Unfortunately, many of these immigrants are poor and live in urban ghettos.  Hundreds of these neighborhoods are classified as “Sensitive Urban Areas” by the French government.

Charlie Hebdo is a well-known satirical newspaper in France. The terrorists targeted the paper because the firm had published demeaning cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The suspects, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, entered into the newspaper office building at 11:30 am with automatic rifles and proceeded through the building calmly. They even asked for directions from a maintenance man before killing him. Once they entered the newspaper’s office, they targeted the cartoonists, calling out the names of the victims before shooting them.

Fleeing from the massacre, the suspects tried to get away by car but were initially blocked by police. After a brief gun battle in the streets, they escaped south, firing at another police officer. One of the gunmen got out of the vehicle, and walked up to the injured police officer and executed him at close range. The car was later found abandoned and Molotov cocktails and ISIS flags were found within the vehicle.

In the Wake of the Attack: A International Security Analysis

The day after the initial attack on Charlie Hebdo, one of the terrorists shot a policewoman and injured a man before fleeing. On January 9th, a brief shootout between French police and the brothers occurred. The shootout left Said Kouachi with a gunshot wound to the neck. However, the brothers were able to flee, taking refuge in a printworks building. Eventually, French police and special operations units caught up to the brothers and surrounded the building. The brothers, who had vowed to become martyrs for Islam, emerged from the building and fired on police, injuring 2, just before Police gunned them down. During this confrontation, another terrorist incident occurred in Paris, at a Jewish food market.

Around the time of the print works battle, Islamic radical Amedy Coulibaly took hostages at a Jewish grocery store. Police surrounded the market, but the hostage taker threatened to kill the hostages unless the brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi were set free. The police entered while the gunmen was preparing for his daily prayers, and killed the armed suspect. Later, the police found the bodies of 4 hostages in the grocery store, making the series of terror attacks in France one of the nation’s deadliest.

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