Blog post: Ten days in Paris, four years in Syria
“France is at war” – declared President Francois Hollande following the terrorist attacks that lead to the death of 129 people on the evening of Friday, November 13.
In the deadliest carnage on France’s ground since World War II, some Islamic radical terrorists, claiming to belong to ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), aimed at the very heart of Paris, opening fire and detonating suicide bombs in a theatre, a bistrò, a restaurant and outside the stadium, targeting at no-one in particular, if not everyone.
Few hours after the attack, France deployed hundreds of soldiers to the streets of Paris and launched a massive manhunt that, on November 18, lead to the Parisian neighborhood of Saint Denis, where prosecutors said one of the suspects was hiding.
The Raw-News team arrived in the French capital shortly after the news of the attacks to support Al-Jazeera. Together with Al Jazeera’s producer Caroline Radnofsky and reporter Andrew Simmons, our cameramen Francesco Fedeli showed us what happened in Saint Denis. Watch the two videos here to see what happened:
Of two of the people who died during the firefight, one was the main suspect of Friday’s attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian of Moroccan origins who previously travelled to Syria to join ISIS, a jihadi extremist group that established itself under a "caliphate" in 2014 and have taken over large portions of territories in both Iraq and Syria. The second identified suspect was his cousin, Hasna Aitboulahcen, who detonated a suicide vest. The two were respectively 28 and 26 years old.
French news reported that on Friday night, before starting fire at the Bataclan theatre, where 89 lost their lives, the terrorists yelled: Allahu Akbar (Allah is greater), this is for Syria”.
Syria has been ravaged by war since 2011, at first in a civil war between President Bashar Al-Assad and rebels, joined over the years by an internationals coalitions, interested not only in Syria’s government but also, (if not mostly) in Syria’s oil and natural gases.
The war strengthened extremists religious groups such as ISIS, which is now targeting the West, raising its Jihadi and holy war flag against the unbelievers (non-Muslim). It is evident from the outcry of the rest of the Muslim community around the world that wish to distance themselves from ISIS that religion has little to do with the reasons behind such extremism, and it’s possible to say that it’s war itself that gave space and meaning to a movement that, according to last Friday's United Nations security council's resolution: "constitutes a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security"
President Hollande, given little options after the attacks, asked for a global coalition against ISIS, bombing the extremists’ headquarter in Raqqa, Syria, as you can see from the Al-Jazeera/Raw-News report by clicking on the video below:
Millennials at War
The Paris attacks shocked the world because happened in one of the most democratic and relatively safe countries in the world and because targeted mostly individuals belonging to the “Millennials” generation.
Authors Strauss and Howe, creators of the word “Millennial” to identify the generation of those born between 1980s and 2000 say Millennials were the most “civic-minded” generation with a strong sense of community, both local and global. Tech-savvy and with a heart for civic causes, were mostly Millennials having fun those struck during the attacks. These are only four of the 129 who died on Friday night. From top left, Baptiste was 24, Nohemi was 23, Marie was 24, Francois 28.
But Millennials were also Abaaoud and Aitboulahcen. Remember? They were 28 and 26.
To oversimplify the solution to the threat that has paralyzed the world, Europe, and especially France in these past seven days, to the terrorists’ bombs and Hollande’s cry for an armed resolution, Parisian citizens answered like this:
“Love over fear and hate”, says this card posted outside the Petit Cambodge Restaurant and Carillon bar on November 15. Lawrence Lagner/CNN iReport
The Al-Jazeera/Raw-News team also recorded these reactions of young people in Paris, which show the Parisians’ resilience and need to go back to normal life.
Watch the video below:
Stay tuned for more updates from Paris.