Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Sunday and I hope you are having a beary safe and great weekend so far. Dab the AIDS Bear is still busy on our weekend full of events so stay tuned for new pictures soon.
I know all of us are still feeling anxious, upset and distraught after the terrorist attack on Paris Friday evening. On the evening of 13 November 2015, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks—consisting of mass shootings, suicide bombings, and hostage-taking—occurred in Paris, the capital of France, and its northern suburb, Saint-Denis. Beginning at 21:20 CET, there were three suicide bombings outside the Stade de France, along with mass shootings and another suicide bombing at four locations near central Paris. The deadliest attack was at the Bataclan theatre, where the attackers took hostages before engaging in a stand-off with police until 00:58 on 14 November. The attacks killed 129 people, 89 of whom were at the Bataclan theatre. 433 people were admitted to hospital with injuries sustained in the attacks, including 80 described as being critically injured. In addition to the victims, seven attackers died, and the authorities continued to search for any accomplices still at large. The attacks were the deadliest in France since World War II and the deadliest in Europe since the Madrid train bombings in 2004.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attacks, and French President François Hollande stated that he considered the attack to be "an act of war" carried out by ISIL, "planned in Syria, organised in Belgium, perpetrated on our soil with French complicity". France had been bombing various targets in the Middle East, including Syria, since October 2015. ISIL's stated motive was retaliation for French involvement in the Syrian Civil War and the Iraqi Civil War. In the weeks leading up to the attacks, ISIL had claimed responsibility for several attacks, such as twin suicide bombings in Beirut two days earlier, and the crashing of Metrojet Flight 9268 on 31 October. France had been on high alert since the January 2015 attacks in Paris that killed 17 people, including civilians and police officers.
In response, a state of emergency was declared, the first since the 2005 riots, and temporary controls were placed on the country's borders. People and organisations expressed solidarity, some through social media. On 15 November, France launched its largest single airstrike of Opération Chammal, its contribution to the anti-ISIL bombing campaign, by striking targets in Al-Raqqah, in retaliation for the attacks.
France had been on high alert for terrorism since the Charlie Hebdo shooting and a series of related attacks in January 2015, and had increased security in anticipation of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, scheduled to be held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December, as well as restoring border checks a week before the attacks.
The Charlie Hebdo shooting in January 2015 occurred in the 11th arrondissement (district) of the city, where the Bataclan theatre is situated. France witnessed other, smaller, attacks throughout 2015, including the stabbing of three soldiers in Nice guarding a Jewish community centre in February; an attempt to blow up a factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier in June, resulting in the death of an employee; and a shooting and stabbing attack on a train in August.
Two Jewish brothers, Pascal and Joël Laloux, owned the Bataclan theatre for more than 40 years until they sold it in September 2015. The venue had been threatened several times because of their public support for Israel. In 2011, a group calling itself Army of Islam, believed to be responsible for the murder of a French student in Egypt in 2009, told French security services they had planned an attack on the Bataclan because its owners were Jewish.
ISIL and their branches claimed responsibility for numerous deadly attacks which took place in the weeks leading up to the Paris attacks. On 12 November, twin suicide bombings took place in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 43 people. On 31 October, Metrojet Flight 9268, carrying mostly Russian passengers, crashed in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, killing 224 people, for which ISIL's Sinai branch claimed responsibility. ISIL social media outlets shared images of weapons, the Eiffel Tower and blessings to the perpetrators 72 hours prior to the attacks.
The Paris attacks happened on the first day of the Islamic lunar month of Safar. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year, Safar migrates through the seasons. ISIL has referred to the Paris attacks as a "ghazwa" (religious raid). When performed within the context of Islamic warfare, a ghazwa 's function is to weaken and demoralise an enemy in preparation for their eventual conquest and subjugation.
Intelligence agencies of Turkey, Iraq, and Israel had warned of an imminent attack on French soil months before and even the day before the attacks but got no response from French authorities.
Three teams launched seven distinct attacks, comprising four suicide bombings and six shootings. Three explosions occurred near the Stade de France and another on boulevard Voltaire; two of the Bataclan shooters also detonated their suicide vests as police ended the stand-off. Shootings were reported in the vicinity of the rue Alibert, the rue de la Fontaine-au-Roi, the rue de Charonne, the Bataclan theatre, and avenue de la République. According to the Paris prosecutor, the attackers wore suicide vests that used acetone peroxide as an explosive.
Stade de France explosions
Three explosions occurred near the country's national sports stadium, the Stade de France, in the suburb of Saint-Denis, resulting in four deaths, including the three suicide bombers. The explosions happened at 21:20, 21:30, and 21:53. The first explosion near the stadium was about 20 minutes after the start of an international friendly football match between France and Germany, which President François Hollande was attending. The first bomber was prevented from entering the stadium after a security guard patted him down and discovered the suicide vest; a few seconds after being turned away, he detonated his suicide vest, killing himself and a bystander. Investigators later surmised that the first suicide bomber had planned to detonate his vest within the stadium, triggering the crowd's panicked exit onto the streets where two other bombers were lying in wait. Ten minutes after the first bombing, the second bomber blew himself up near the stadium. Another 33 minutes after that, the third bomber detonated his vest nearby at a McDonald's.
Hollande was evacuated from the scene at half-time, while the German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, stayed behind. Hollande met with his interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve to co-ordinate a response to the emergency. Two of the explosions were heard on the live televised broadcast of the match; both football coaches were informed by French officials of a developing crisis, but players and fans were kept unaware of it until the game had finished. Hollande, concerned that the safety of the crowd outside the stadium could not be assured if the match were immediately cancelled, personally decided that the game should continue without a public announcement. Following the game, fans were brought onto the pitch to await evacuation as police monitored all the exits around the venue. Security sources said all three explosions were suicide bombings.
The German national football team was advised not to return to their hotel, where there had been a bomb threat earlier in the day, and they spent the night in the stadium on mattresses, along with the French team, who stayed with them in a display of camaraderie.
Street shootings and bombing
Rue Bichat and rue Alibert
At approximately 21:20, the first shootings occurred on the rue Bichat and the rue Alibert, near the Canal Saint-Martin in the 10th arrondissement. Attackers shot at people outside Le Carillon, a café and bar, before crossing the rue Bichat and shooting people inside the restaurant Le Petit Cambodge. According to French police, eleven people were killed at the restaurant, and an eyewitness said one of the gunmen shouted "Allahu Akbar". The assailants fled in one or two vehicles after the shootings. One vehicle had a Belgian number plate. Doctors and nurses from the nearby Hôpital Saint-Louis were in Le Carillon when the attacks happened and supplied emergency assistance to the wounded.
Rue de la Fontaine-au-Roi
At 21:32, a man with a machine gun fired shots outside Café Bonne Bière, close to the Italian restaurant La Casa Nostra, on the rue de la Fontaine-au-Roi south of the rue Bichat. The Paris prosecutor said five people were killed and eight were injured. An eyewitness reported a gunman firing short bursts.
Rue de Charonne
At approximately 21:36, two attackers fired shots for several minutes at the outdoor terrace of the restaurant La Belle Équipe on the rue de Charonne in the 11th arrondissement before returning to their car and driving away. Nineteen people were killed and nine were left in a critical condition.
Boulevard Voltaire bombing
At about 21:40, an attacker detonated his suicide vest on the boulevard Voltaire, also in the 11th arrondissement, near place de la Nation. He sat down in the Comptoir Voltaire café and placed an order before detonating his suicide vest and killing himself. Fifteen people were injured, one of them seriously.
Bataclan theatre massacre
At approximately 21:45, a mass shooting and hostage-taking occurred at the Bataclan theatre on the boulevard Voltaire in the 11th arrondissement. The American band Eagles of Death Metal was playing to an audience of around 1,500 people. About an hour into the concert, three dark-clad men with AK-47 assault rifles entered the hall. Witnesses heard shouts of "Allahu Akbar" just before the gunmen opened fire on the crowd. Initially, the audience mistook the gunfire for pyrotechnics. The attack lasted 20 minutes, and witnesses also reported seeing the attackers throw hand grenades into the crowd. A radio reporter attending the concert described the attackers as calm and determined, telling CNN they had reloaded three or four times.
Around 22:00, the attackers took 60–100 concertgoers hostage as police gathered outside the venue. The band's members escaped without injury. A witness who escaped the attack told a journalist that the gunmen had mentioned Syria. One witness in the Bataclan said that a gunman yelled, "This is because of all the harm done by Hollande to Muslims all over the world." There were further attacks on police and first responders who arrived at the scene.
From 00:15 to 00:58, the police launched an assault on the theatre after reports the attackers had begun killing hostages. Initial police reports estimated that 100 people were killed at the theatre, but the toll was later revised to 89. Two attackers died by detonating their suicide vests. Another was hit by police gunfire and his vest blew up when he fell. The area was cordoned off after the attacks. Identification and removal of bodies from the theatre took 10 hours, a process made difficult because some audience members had left their identification papers in the Bataclan's cloakroom.
On 14 November, President François Hollande said ISIL organised the attacks abroad with help from inside France. Syrian and Egyptian passports were found near the bodies of two of the perpetrators at two attack sites, but Egyptian authorities said the passport belonged to a victim, Aleed Abdel-Razzak, and not one of the perpetrators. By 16 November, the focus of the French and Belgian security services' inquiry turned to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the radical jihadist whom they believed was the leader of the plot. Abaaoud, a Belgian of Moroccan origin, had escaped to Syria after having been suspected in other plots in Belgium and France, including the thwarted 2015 Thalys train attack. Abaaoud had recruited an extensive network of accomplices, including Ibrahim and Salah Abdeslam, to execute terrorist attacks. Senior European intelligence officials told The Washington Post that Abbaoud was killed in a massive predawn raid in Paris on 18 November 2015.
Three teams executed the attacks, according to the Paris prosecutor. They wore explosive vests with identical detonators. One of the suicide bombers had previously been arrested eight times, but had not been linked to terrorism.
Seven of the perpetrators died at the scenes.
Three suicide bombers detonated their vests near the Stade de France. Minister of Citizen Protection in Greece Nikos Toskas said one of the Syrian passport-holders had passed through Leros in October. The man had been registered and fingerprinted after having arrived by boat from Turkey.
Bilal Hadfi, a 20-year-old Belgian who previously fought in Syria with ISIL for over a year and a supporter of Boko Haram.
Ibrahim Abdeslam, a French 31-year-old member of the Molenbeek terror cell living in Belgium, detonated his vest at the Comptoir Voltaire restaurant on the boulevard Voltaire near the Bataclan theatre. He was born in France, on 30 July 1984.
Three attacked the Bataclan theatre wearing black clothing and using AK-47 assault rifles. Two killed themselves with their suicide vests during the police raid on the theatre. The third was killed by police gunfire just before his vest detonated. According to French police, suspects included:
Samy Amimour, a 28-year-old from Paris who fought in Yemen. He had reportedly been on the run from police for two years prior to the attack, due to terrorism related charges.
A man carrying a Syrian passport which identified him as a 25-year-old Syrian native Ahmad Almuhammad (or Ahmad Al Mohammad). The passport, which is likely to be a forgery made in Turkey, suggested that the man entered France through Greece and Macedonia. Fingerprint similarities were found between those taken from the scene in Paris and those taken during a control in Greece. French officials declared that "Ahmad Al Mohammad" is probably a dead Syrian soldier who was killed in Syria and whose passport was stolen.
Omar Ismaïl Mostefaï, a 29-year-old from the Paris suburb of Courcouronnes, identified as a bomber by a severed finger found inside the theatre. Mostefaï was born to an Algerian father and a Portuguese mother and converted to Islam.
A gunman[who?] was found with a passport of a Syrian man who had been born in 1980. The man on the passport was not previously known to French police.
On 15 November, François Molins, the Paris prosecutor, identified two attackers: Ibrahim Abdeslam and a 20-year-old man[who?] born in France who was one of three suicide bombers outside the Stade de France.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks on the morning of 14 November. Less than a day after the attacks, the Al-Hayat Media Group, their media organ, launched a website on the dark web extolling them and recommending the encrypted instant messaging service Telegram. Claimed motives include ideological objection to Paris as a capital of "abomination and perversion", retaliation for French airstrikes in Syria and Iraq as well as the foreign policy of François Hollande in relation to Muslims worldwide.
The attacks killed 129 people (excluding the perpetrators) and injured at least 352, though 433 people were taken to hospitals. with 80 taken to hospital in a serious condition. Of the dead, 89 died at the Bataclan theatre, 15 at Le Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge, 5 at Café Bonne Bière and La Casa Nostra, 1 at Stade de France, and 19 at La Belle Équipe. Victims were confirmed from at least 26 countries (some holding multiple citizenships). Among those who died at the Bataclan were a music critic of Les Inrockuptibles, an executive of Mercury Records France, and the merchandise manager of Eagles of Death Metal.
All of us at Dab the AIDS Bear Project have everyone in Paris in our thoughts and prayers.
I know it is hard to carry on as normal but if we don't then the terrorists win. So here's wishing you a beary safe and great Sunday!
Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.
big bear hug,