Terrorists who attacked French magazine displayed professional training

A video shot from the rooftop of a building near the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo that shows two jihadists in a firefight with police. Video from Charlie Boudot/Agence Premieres Lignes.

Unidentified terrorists killed 12 people and injured seven in an assault on the Paris office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo earlier today. Gunmen armed with assault rifles shouted “‘we have avenged the prophet” and “Allahu akbar,” or God is greatest, as they stormed the headquarters of the magazine that has in the past published irreverent cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed and the emir of the Islamic State.

Just before noon, two gunmen with Kalashnikovs exited a black car and forced an employee of the magazine to let them into the building in central Paris. Once inside, witnesses say that the assailants deliberately targeted journalists, killing the publication’s editor and killing or wounding a number of cartoonists.

Two policemen were also killed in the attack, with video posted online showing the assailants wounding one officer and then executing him in the street as he raised his hands in submission. The attackers then entered a black getaway car and fled the scene before moving to a stolen car. The jihadists are still at large.

No group has officially claimed credit for today’s attack.

Two independent witnesses said the attackers claimed to be from al Qaeda. Corinne Rey, a cartoonist who was forced to let the attackers into the building, said that “[t]hey spoke French perfectly; they said they we’re al Qaeda,” The London Evening Standard reported. Cédric Le Béchec, another witness, stated that one of the attackers said “Tell the media that this is al Qaeda in the Yemen,” a reference to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, according to The Telegraph.

Jihadists have a longstanding hatred of Charlie Hebdo, whose headquarters was firebombed in 2011 after the magazine published images of the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb embedded in his turban. On Jan. 7, supporters of the Islamic State also expressed outrage after the magazine published a satirical cartoon of the group’s emir, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, expressing “best wishes” and good “health.” [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda and other jihadists repeatedly threatened French magazine.]

The attack appears to have been executed by hardened and well-trained fighters who may have received instructions at a training facility overseas, or locally in France. The attackers may also be ex-military.

The professionalism of the two attackers is seen in a brief video that shows the execution of one of the two French policemen on the street outside of Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters [the graphic video is reproduced below]. The video was captured by witnesses at the scene of the attack and was published on Liveleak.

The two attackers move in side-by-side formation and fire deliberately while shooting at a French police officer who is four to five car lengths away. After the officer is shot and downed, the two gunmen move quickly towards the policemen. One shoots and executes the officer in stride. Both men move past the body, peer up the street for additional targets, then peel off and move back to the black car and leave the scene of the attack.

The tactic of using heavily armed gunmen to attack well defended military targets or lightly defended civilian targets is commonly used by jihadist groups, including al Qaeda, the Islamic State, the Taliban, and a host of allies in the war-torn countries of Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Nigeria. But jihadist groups have also executed such attacks on civilians outside of war zones, including in Mumbai, India in 2008 and Nairobi, Kenya in 2013.

WARNING: The video below is extremely graphic and shows the execution of one of the French policemen. The video is reproduced to detail the professionalism shown by the gunmen who attacked Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters in Paris, France.

Sources: France24, AFP, BBC, CBS/AP, Liveleak

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  • Arjuna says:

    This is the varsity. Tight shots on full auto through the windshield. Regardless of whether AQ or IS (formerly Al Qaeda in Iraq) trained them, I’ll hazard a guess they’ve been both trained and in a combat zone. Listen to the lack of stress in their voices. They are holed up somewhere w explosives if they act to script.
    FT says there are reports they asked for individuals by name, plus they hit the target at a meeting day/time (as in In Amenas/MBM op when they attacked when the visiting corporate execs were there and had maps of the individual’s bedrooms) when the mag was featuring an anti-sharia headline. We didn’t need this in Europe or America. Another bad line has been crossed. Get these killers now. Deport their families.

  • Alex says:

    This is going to be the new normal. In the same way that the Mexican drug cartels are able to completely dominate and control the media in Mexico through intimidation and murder, so now will Islamism control the press throughout the West.
    Already happy to self censor themselves for the most part when it comes to Islam and focus their ire and ridicule toward Christianity, those few holdouts that practiced equal opportunity scorn when it comes to religion will now be cowed into submission.
    What reporter or editor wants to print an article critiquing Islam when there is a real possibility it might get him and his staff murdered? Especially when you can take the easy route and find some Christians or political enemies of PC gentry to heap invective on with no threat of violence in response.
    The Mexification of the Press will accelerate due to this atrocity.

  • Arjuna says:

    Supposedly one said to a witness at the time they ditched/switched cars that they were from Al Qaeda in Yemen. Another report says they shouted the same thing before they began the attack. AQAP is pretty much Core AQ, in my view, and they can sure get a lot of training and combat experience in that broken country.
    No mention of comms. I wonder what they had to talk to each other and if they were in touch w someone monitoring a police scanner. It seems like it. Nairobi and Mumbai had attack cells and handlers.

  • timactual says:

    Journalists claim that their job is to “Speak truth to power”. It will be interesting to see if their self-proclaimed job description changes.

  • A Confused Camper says:

    This has all the hallmarks of a well planned well executed attack. What I haven’t seen is where did the AK-47’s and RPG come from? These are not sold in Europe, are there more? Is this team one of many in France and Europe? Am I the only one who finds it odd the French police had yet to find these guys over five hours after the attack.

  • m3fd2002 says:

    Alex has some good points. It’s very hard to stop these types of attacks, without draconian counter measures. The victims were sitting ducks, with no chance of defending themselves. The terrorists took full advantage. Any western country with significant muslim expats is at high risk. The muslim street mentality is a product of decades of anti-western & anti-semitic propoganda that was systematically taught in their school systems. The ugly truth is that the muslim world in general has a deep inferiority complex with regards to rest of the world, which leads to these types of actions. There is at least a two-year window for these elements to metastasize, and they know it.

  • Brutus says:

    The islamists prefer a low intensity, grinding, guerrilla war because coupled with time and demographics that is how they can win and become dominant. It is time for the west to shift the fighting to its terms and its strengths – high intensity decisive action with the goal of eradicating islam as a political, expansionist movement. No more appeasement, no more coexisting. They have proven time and again that their desires for peaceful coexistence are a canard.

  • Eric says:

    Not that journalists are likely to be gun owners, but all the same, how does gun control legislation preventing individual rights to carry personal firearms sit with the French now?

  • Dan says:

    The end of the free press?
    This should lead to mass deportations.

  • sundoesntrise says:

    I honestly gave up years ago and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I had a hard time dealing with the cognitive dissonance of this entire subject. Certain people of certain political persuasions just didn’t seem to want to admit that we had a real problem on our hands. They enjoyed being arrogant and naive and unfair in their criticism and discourse.
    I knew deep down in my gut that one day, we would reach a point where our appeasement would severely backfire on us and cost many lives – more than it already had at that point. It now appears as if we’ve reached the point of no return.

  • Arjuna says:

    Let’s see: two Franco-Algerian brothers, early thirties, one w connections to Iraq, both w connections to Syria, and an eighteen year old of unknown fuzzy provenance, all yelling during the attack that they’re from Yemeni Al Qaeda ….
    I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that these bad killers are somehow connected the so-called Khorasan Group who would self-identify as AQAP and not by our moniker.

  • john says:

    This attack seems to be a copycat of the 2008 Mumbai attack. Small group of gunmen dressed casually but with paramilitary training, That attack was organized by Lashkar e Toiba.
    Another similarity between that attack and this one is that during David Headley’s trial in US Federal court as an conspirator of the Mumbai attacks, it was revealed that he went to Europe to scout out the locations of those responsible for cartoons disparaging the Prophet Muhammed.
    If this does turn out to be Lashkar e Toiba or another Pakistani ISS affliated group, it will be clearly seen as a message by the ISI to the American’s & Brits.

  • Daniel Fanoos says:

    The shouting in the street when they were getting into cars were in North African accent of Arabic. They cannot be from AQAP or Yemen. The mission was not a suicide mission like the usual AQ stuff. Surprised to see the sophistication of their plan and how they implemented it.
    One dumb point is: Why did they need AK47 in such a civil setting? It is difficult to handle, difficult to conceal and transport, and no need at all! Strange thing.

  • Bill Baar says:

    @Daniel… I was surprised too that this wasn’t a suicide attack. And now it seems the French have two of them alive.

  • DR says:

    Glad the French didn’t waste time labeling this workplace violence and hopefully will capture and exterminate all involved tout de suite. Maybe its time to just ignore the entire religious aspect of terrorism and not give it any credibility. These are the acts of likeminded soulless individuals who need to be dispatched from the planet without prejudice.

  • Fred says:

    I hope this gruesome act will make the media print/show these cartoons everywhere in Europe.

  • Ted Harlson says:

    If in economics, corruption is found, one is to, “Follow the Money.” If corruption is found here, the obvious question is “Follow the arms.” Where do these groups, cells get their arms from?
    It is known like a guilty secret everyone knows but never states, the spiritual motivation is Islam. Both must be stopped. The spiritual is more critical to stop. With a will to dominate, new heads will continue to sprout. Islamic totalitarianism needs unconditional surrender.

  • sundoesntrise says:

    You said:
    “Maybe its time to just ignore the entire religious aspect of terrorism and not give it any credibility.”
    I honestly believe that is a grave mistake. Such approaches towards religion have given rise to nonstop religious inspired violence, as well as the rise of Islamic and Christian modern day revivalist fanaticism.
    The same goes for all religions. People can use an echo chamber to constantly scream that religion has no part in things done in it’s name, but that denial is major reason why we are at this point and the violence just continues unabated. Just think about it.

  • Montanan says:

    Jews get their critics fired. Muslims fire at their critics. Normal French people whine on the Internet. See the problem here, folks?

  • All they got so far is one suspect who may even be involved. The other two are in a forest now supposedly. But who knows for sure. I don’t see these guys going down without a fight and they have plenty of ammo

  • CLB says:

    I’m a bit confused on what leads the writers to believe that both gunmen had professional combat training. At @ 10 secs. and 17 secs in the video, they bunch up near each other; their escape car is unguarded as both are focused on the other side of the street. The one gunman uses a panel truck for “cover”. When they enter the car, the passenger does not cover the driver; he picks up something from the ground instead.
    Obviously they have been taught to load and fire semi-auto weapons but
    Rampage shooters in the US have shot people in stride; no prof. training required. I’m not aware of a standard military “shooting wounded in stride” exercise.

  • Arjuna says:

    Spoke too soon. This is the A-Team. Three man cell, female accomplice, on TIDE and no-fly lists, watched by French authorities but still able to procure AKs and RPGs in gay Paris. This could end badly for France and her people.
    Training in Yemen, trips to Syria, and a direct connection to dead, old Awlaki. Yuck. Says very loudly that the West’s m.o. of watching the returnees is a losing strategy if they flood the field (as they are doing). Mass deportations are the only solution.
    No matter how it ends, it’s only the beginning of the next phase of battle in the long war. I’m afraid that this is what the West reaps for blowing up the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa. We started about four wars that are still festering and unfinished (unwon) by us. Just retreating is not going to do the trick. Islamic fundamentalism can’t be “managed” Mr President; it must be eliminated.

  • Arjuna says:

    Terrorist TRADOC stinks; looking for professional behavior is not determinant. When people are saying professional combat training they mean more that those holes had been in the stuff, as they say… war, a combat zone, i.e. the real thing.
    You don’t get that relaxed about killing (and dying yourself) playing paintball. They went out shooting too; no real way to “train” for that other than to believe in kooky koranic stories about what happens when you die. Poor deluded sobs.
    Deport their families to Algeria, or better yet, give them one way tickets to Damascus.


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