Paris attacks leave city in shock


Photo courtesy of the Guardian.

Prayag Bhakar and Austin Mei

A series of terrorist bombings and shootings organized by groups working with the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, took place in Paris, France on Nov. 13. The bombings left at least 129 people dead and wounded hundreds more. Seven terrorists were either detained or killed in the attacks; however, the Islamic State has claimed in a statement that a total of eight attackers were involved. Police are still searching for possible accomplices and attackers.

Across Paris, the Islamic State led six coordinated attacks on various areas: Bataclan Concert Hall, the Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, Le Carillon bar, La Casa Nostra restaurant, La Belle Equipe bar, and the Stade de France. The deadliest of the six sites was the Bataclan Concert Hall, where at least 89 people were killed and around 60 hostages were taken. Three organized teams carried out the attacks utilizing assault rifles and suicide vests strapped with improvised explosives.

Freshman Ananth Sriram is shocked by the intricacy of the attacks and is concerned about potential terror attacks in the US.

“I’m honestly surprised. I had no idea that terror organizations like ISIS had the capabilities to pull something like this off,” Sriram said. “It’s kind of eye opening; it makes me wonder if ISIS has the ability to strike targets in the US.”

Initially, the identities of the instigators were not determined and no group took credit for planning and executing the attacks. After police captured one of the terrorists, he claimed to be associated with the Islamic State. The Islamic State later came forward and released statements claiming responsibility in Arabic and French.

French President François Hollande declared a state of emergency in France and closed down national borders and is expected to last twelve days. Hollande deployed around 1,500 troops in Paris to patrol and secure strategic locations, and empowered authorities to place people under house arrest if their actions are deemed dangerous. France has retaliated by bombing various key targets, such as supply routes under the control of the Islamic State in Raqqa, Syria on Nov. 15.

Various emergency lines were opened in France, but the French government warned citizens to not flood the connections. Thousands of people took to social media to tell their friends and family that they have not been harmed. People also took to Twitter and promoted various safe houses with the hashtag #porteouverte. These safe houses primarily served people far away from their houses and homeless, so that they could avoid possible conflicts on the street. Facebook also pushed out a feature that notifies users within a close radius of any attack. The notification warns the user about the dangerous situation and allows them to send a notification to their friends stating that they are fine.

The attacks came just ten months after the shooting at the Charlie Hebdo offices, the French satirical magazine that was attacked for depicting the prophet Muhammad. These attacks are the most recent of the deadliest acts of violence in France since World War II and the deadliest acts of terror in Europe since the 2004 Madrid train bombings, which killed 191 people.

Freshman Suchet Kumar believes that these attacks were instigated by the continued anger brought on by the drawing of the Prophet Muhammad.

“I believe that this attack is possibly tied to the Charlie Hebdo shooting,” Kumar said. “The controversy surrounding the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad may have painted a target on Paris in the eyes of Islamic extremists.”

Dozens of world leaders have condemned the attacks, including President Barack Obama, President Vladimir Putin and Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon. Many neighboring European nations have tightened their border security in response to the attacks.

Senior Anusha Thotakura believes that countries should remember that the Islamic State is an extremist group and people should not generalize their actions to the entire population of Muslims.

“It’s important to keep in mind that terrorists aren’t reflective of the entire Muslim population,” Thotakura said. “With more and more [Syrian] refugees seeking asylum in France, if we start making generalizations about different groups of cultures, it hurts people who have already been hurt the most.”

Social studies teacher Jason Spoor-Harvey believes that such incidents are a result of the lack of opportunity and can be solved in the future by giving opportunities to the downtrodden.

“It’s a combination of poverty and hopelessness and a number of other factors that appeal these men and draw them in,” Spoor-Harvey said. “That’s why a lot of the foreign nationals that are going to join ISIS are young men because they feel like they are powerless and that there is no hope for economic success. What we need to do is create hope for these people that feel disconnected.”