Paris, the city of lights, is currently illuminated by flickering candles. The candles, along with flowers and other items, are memorial decorations at the various sites where three hours of carnage by allegedly Jihadi terrorists transpired Friday evening. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the rampage.
There are, reportedly, 129 fatalities, more than 350 wounded, and many of them seriously. According to French officials, there were three teams of terrorists who almost simultaneously targeted a half dozen sites, none more horrific than the 89 slain in the massacre at Bataclan concert.
Not since the bombings in Madrid in 2004 where 191 people were killed has Europe been rocked with such a horrific terrorist attack.
“The situation here is very sad, and the city is on edge,” said Thierry Fournet in a telephone interview Sunday evening. He’s a journalist and filmmaker who recently returned to his home in France after a brief visit to the states. “This time the situation is different from the one in January when they attacked Charlie Hebdo, the satirical paper. (Seventeen people were killed at the paper and at a nearby Jewish deli). At that time they wanted to kill the journalists and Jewish people. But this time it’s very random and the motive is not clear.”
Fournet said that the authorities have advised people to stay at home until the things are under control.
When asked about the panic that occurred on Sunday when thousands of people hurried from a memorial site, he said, “some of them heard a noise and began to run and then everybody fled from the site. It’s just a nervous reaction that seems to be everywhere.”
He said his son, who is a musician, knew several members of Eagles of Death Metal, a blues rock band from Palm Desert, California, that was performing at the Bataclan. It was reported that a representative or a technician traveling with the band was among those killed, but that has not been confirmed.
“My son is safe now, but terribly upset by what has happened here,” Fournet said. “I will be returning to Paris tomorrow and will keep you posted.”
One American student studying in France is among those killed.
Meanwhile, the French have mounted a series of airstrikes in retaliation against ISIS or ISIL in around Syria. Also, a massive manhunt is underway pursuit of one of the known suspects and two others are at large.
A day after the attacks, the candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination was asked about the terrorism in Paris and how they would deal with it if they were the president. (President Obama had already called a press conference and expressed his outrage and extended his good wishes to those who had lost friends and relatives in the slaughter.)
Sen. Bernie Sanders, at the debate in Des Moines, Iowa, basically skipped past the question, choosing to focus on the millionaires and billionaires who he planned to tax heavily if elected. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met the question directly, stating a different position from the Obama administration. “It cannot be contained,” she said of the Islamic State, “it must be defeated.”
But in an appeal to the leftists among her supporters, she said U.S. role in the Middle East should be a matter of leadership, “this cannot be an American fight.”
Fournet said, it’s difficult to find the motive for the attacks, unless they are a result of the long alliance between the U.S. and France, or in retaliation to the drone killings of ISIS leaders, including Jihadi John, the man wielding a knife and often depicted in videos prior to a number of beheading of hostages.
It may be nothing more than the “perversity” that ISIS has posted on the Internet, and this makes the crimes all the more insufferable.
“One of the reasons he people are so apprehensive here,” Fournet explained, “is that ISIS has reported that there were eight terrorists in the team, and only seven have been accounted for thus far.”
Since September France has been conducting a series of airstrikes against ISIS, but now the missions have increased in number and intensity.