IS Claims Responsibility For Paris Attack

A French policewoman stands in Saint Augustin street in Paris centre after one person was killed and several injured by a man armed with a knife, who was shot dead by police in Paris on May 12, 2018. 
Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

 

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for a deadly knife attack carried out in central Paris late Saturday, according to the SITE monitoring group.

“The executor of the stabbing operation in the city of Paris is a soldier of the Islamic State and the operation was carried out in response to the calls to target the coalition states,” a “security source” told IS’s official Amaq news agency in an Arabic-language report.

The knifeman, shouting Allahu akbar, was shot dead by police after he killed one person and injured four, prompting a terror probe.

The attack took place near the city’s main opera house in an area full of bars, restaurants and theaters which were brimming on a weekend night.

The man attacked five people with a knife, one of whom died, police said. Two were in serious condition and all the victims are in hospital.

The attack comes as France is under a constant threat from terrorism. A string of jihadist attacks have claimed the lives of over 245 people around France in the past three years.

Belgian Court Jails Paris Suspect For 20 Years

'I Put My Trust In Allah,' Paris Attacks Suspect Tells Court
FILE COPY A courtroom sketch made on February 5, 2018 shows prime suspect in the November 2015 Paris attacks Salah Abdeslam (2nd L) prior to the opening of his trial at the “Palais de Justice” courthouse in Brussels. Benoit PEYRUCQ / AFP

 

A Belgian court on Monday found Salah Abdeslam, the last surviving suspect in the Paris attacks, guilty of terrorism-related attempted murder over a shootout with police in Brussels days before his capture in 2016, and sentenced him to 20 years in jail.

In its judgment, the court in the Belgian capital said “there can be no doubt” about jihadist Salah Abdeslam and his co-defendant Sofiane Ayari’s involvement in extremism.

Prosecutors had asked for 20-year jail terms for both.

Neither 28-year-old Abdeslam — who is being held in jail in France pending a separate trial over the 2015 Paris attacks in which 130 people died — nor Ayari, 24, were in court for the verdict.

Four police officers were wounded in the gun battle after police acting on a tip-off over the Paris attacks raided a flat in the Forest area of Brussels on March 15, 2016.

Abdeslam, a Belgian-born French national, was arrested three days later in the largely immigrant Molenbeek area of the Belgian capital, near his family home.

On March 22 suicide bombers from a cell linked to the Paris attacks killed 32 people and wounded hundreds more at Brussels airport and a metro station in the Belgian capital.

The judgment said Abdeslam had written a document addressed to his mother saying that “Allah guided me and chose me among his servants to open his path. It is for that reason that I had to fight the enemies of Allah with all my strength.”

He added that his brother Brahim, who blew himself up during the Paris attacks, “did not commit suicide — he is a hero of Islam.”

The judgment on Monday said that 34 shots in total were fired during the shootout.

Belgian police mounted tight security around the imposing Palace of Justice building in Brussels for the verdict.

 ‘Trust in Allah’ 

Abdeslam has spent most of the last two years in jail in France.

He was transported to the court from France for the first day of the trial amid tight security including a helicopter escort, while Tunisian national Ayari, 24, is in jail in Belgium.

On the first day of the trial, Abdeslam proclaimed that he would only put his “trust in Allah” and accused the court of being biased against Muslims.

He then refused to attend the rest of the proceedings.

Investigators say Abdeslam’s arrest spurred the Brussels bombers to bring forward the 2016 attacks, which had originally been planned for a later date, as they feared they could be captured.

Prosecutors have said that DNA links Abdeslam to the apartment in the Forest district of Brussels where the shooting took place, but not to the weapons that were used.

After Abdeslam refused to return to court for the trial in February, his lawyer Sven Mary sought the case’s dismissal on a technicality over how the judges were named to investigate the gun battle, and said media leaks had denied him a fair trial.

But lawyers for police wounded in the gun battle accused Abdeslam of “mocking” the trial.

One of the injured police officers was still suffering from after-effects including brain lesions, epileptic fits and vision and balance problems.

An organisation representing victims of the Brussels attacks and their families has asked for symbolic damages of one euro from the trial.

The Belgian trial is a prelude to a bigger one that Abdeslam will face in France at a later date over the Paris attacks of November 13, 2015, which were claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.

AFP

Paris Attacks Suspect Arrives For Belgian Trial

Journalists are seen prior to the opening of the trial of prime suspect in the November 2015 Paris attacks Salah Abdeslam at the “Palais de Justice” courthouse in Brussels, on February 5, 2018. JOHN THYS / AFP

 

The last surviving suspect in the 2015 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, arrived at a court in Brussels amid tight security Monday to stand trial over a shootout that led to his capture.

The 28-year-old, once Europe’s most wanted man, left a jail near the French capital in the middle of the night in a convoy of tactical police vehicles with blue lights flashing.

The Belgian-born French national of Moroccan descent faces charges of attempted terrorist murder of police officers and carrying banned weapons over a gunbattle in the Forest district of Brussels on March 15, 2016.

Three police officers were wounded and a jihadist was killed in the fight, which came as Abdeslam was on the run four months after the Paris attacks. He was captured three days later.

Hundreds of Belgian security forces turned the Palais de Justice court building in Brussels into a virtual fortress while a helicopter with searchlights circled overhead as he arrived.

“This must remain an ordinary trial,” said Luc Hennart, who presides over the court. “If there is the slightest problem I will order the courtroom to be evacuated.”

Abdeslam and the man arrested with him, Tunisian national Sofiane Ayari, 24, could serve up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

– ‘Important for victims’ –

The non-jury trial is the prelude to a later one in France and prosecutors hope the Brussels trial will yield clues not only about the attacks that killed 130 people in Paris but also the suicide bombings months later in Brussels.

Abdeslam has refused point-blank to speak to investigators throughout the nearly two years since his arrest, which capped a four-month hunt for Europe’s most wanted man.

But he has insisted on attending the Brussels trial, where three judges are to lead proceedings for four days, raising the question of whether he will use it to break his silence.

Hennart insisted that the trial would only focus on the shootout, saying: “That is what we will talk about, we will not talk about either the Brussels or Paris attacks.”

Tight secrecy surrounded the plans for transferring Abdeslam from Fleury-Merogis prison in the Parisian suburbs, and then back to a prison just across the border in northern France every night.

Two separate convoys left Fleury-Merogis in the middle of the night with an escort of elite French officers with blue lights flashing, while a third group of unmarked vehicles left shortly afterwards.

The boyish former bar owner has spent nearly 20 months in isolation under 24-hour video surveillance at Fleury-Merogis, after being transferred to France after his arrest.

At the Brussels court journalists and officials, all had to pass through security checks. A police sniffer dog checked the austere courtroom itself, in which journalists were banned from taking phones and computers.

– Shot in the leg –

Investigators believe Abdeslam’s capture three days after the shootout caused members of his jihadist cell to bring forward plans for the attacks in Brussels.

Suicide attacks on March 22, 2016, killed 32 people at Brussels airport and a metro station near the EU headquarters.

The same cell is believed to have been behind both the Paris and Brussels attacks, which were claimed by the Islamic State group.

Police say Abdeslam and Ayari were holed up at the Forest flat when it was raided by French and Belgian police in a routine operation after the Paris attacks.

A third suspect, 33-year-old Algerian Mohamed Belkaid, died while providing covering fire for their escape through a back door.

Police say they found Abdeslam’s fingerprints in the flat, confirming they were on the trail of the last suspect in the rifle and bomb attacks on the Bataclan concert hall, bars, restaurants and the national stadium in the French capital on November 13, 2015.

Abdeslam is reported to have disposed of a suicide belt before fleeing. He is also suspected of being the driver in the attacks, in which his brother Brahim was one of the suicide bombers.

Armed officers shot in the leg and captured him and Ayari just yards from Abdeslam’s home in Molenbeek, a gritty Brussels immigrant neighbourhood.

Ayari entered Europe in September 2015 via the Greek island of Lesbos at the height of a migration crisis gripping the continent and was one of dozen suspected jihadists ferried around Europe by Abdeslam.

AFP

Paris Attack: Memories Return Again And Again, Loew Says

Paris Attack: Memories Return Again And Again, Loew Says
Germany’s head coach Joachim Loew answers questions during a press conference on the eve of the friendly match Germany v France on November 13, 2017 in Cologne, Germany. PATRIK STOLLARZ / AFP

Germany head coach Joachim Loew admits he is still haunted by memories of the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris, ahead of Tuesday’s friendly international against France in Cologne.

On November 13 two years ago suicide bombers set off explosive devices outside the Stade de France during Germany’s match with France that was the start of a series of terror attacks that left 130 dead.

Loew and the stunned Germany squad were forced to spend the night at the stadium in Paris during a security crackdown.

“You do not forget something like that. The memories return again and again,” said Loew at a press conference on Monday.

“That was a dramatic experience and one you wouldn’t want to go through again.

“You manage to block things out a bit, but it (the evening) was marked by a fear of being inside the stadium.”

Cologne will be on red alert, as a third of the tickets for Tuesday’s match at the Rhein-Energie-Stadium have not been sold and a ring of security will be thrown around the ground.

Loew says he feels safe in the security arrangements.

“I trust in the measures,” he said. “There will be heavy controls and the level of security will be very high. I feel safe.”

AFP

Nigeria Partners S/Arabia On Security, Stable Oil Market

Buhari_Saudi
Photo credit @Saudi Gazette

President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated Nigeria’s support for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its efforts to stop the spread of terror in the Middle East.

President Buhari said this on Tuesday at a meeting with King Salman Bin Abdul-Aziz in Riyadh, where the two leaders engaged in extensive discussions on regional and global issues.

President Buhari, who was making his first pronouncement on the invitation to join the coalition of Islamic States against terror, congratulated the kingdom of Saudi Arabia on its formation.

“Even if we are not a part of it, we support you. I must thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the recent creation of a coalition to address the menace of international terrorism.

“Nigeria will support your efforts in keeping peace and stopping the spread of terror in your region. This is in consonance with our own commitment and ongoing efforts in seeking to stamp out Boko Haram terrorists from the West African sub-region and Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC),” the President said.

Problem Of Terrorism
Speaking on global terror generally, President Buhari stressed the need for various nations to come together to tackle the menace.

“International terrorism made a statement by attacking one of the advanced countries by carrying out an attack on Paris in which 130 were killed. Now we have to come together to find a common solution to the problem of terrorism,” he said.

The President also thanked the Saudi government for its continuing support to Nigeria in the fight against terrorism.

President Buhari regretted that the late Libyan leader, Muammar Ghaddafi, recruited, trained and armed citizens of many states in the Sahel region, lamenting that with Ghaddafi’s fall, these mercenaries have returned to their countries, “doing nothing but to shoot and kill”.

He cited Burkina Faso and Mali as the main victims but expressed happiness that the countries neighbouring the Lake Chad have tightened their ranks to finish off the Boko Haram threat.

“Luckily, we have cultivated our neighbours. We are now working together against Boko Haram, otherwise the problem would have become worse,” he said.

In his remarks, King Salman commended the progress made by Nigeria in combating terrorism and promised to give further support and assistance.

He welcomed the support of the Nigerian government for the new anti-terrorism coalition and implored President Buhari to consider its full membership.

King Salman also pledged his full support and cooperation to Nigeria under its present leadership and directed all agencies of his government to follow up on the discussions.

“I now instruct my team to go and sit down with your relevant agencies to push forward cooperation between our states,” he said.

President Buhari and King Salman expressed hope that the Libyan factions would soon see reason to reunite and restore fully their own country so as to save the world from further terrorism spin-offs from that country.

Both leaders expressed commitment to a stable oil market and a rebound of oil prices.

They also focused on trade between their states and agreed to give fresh impetus to the joint commission previously established in order to boost commercial and other activities to unify their citizens.

Both Leaders ‘Committed’ To Oil Price Stability

The two leaders “committed themselves to doing all that is possible to stabilize the market and rebound the oil price”, Garba Shehu said in a statement.

The two leaders accepted the fact that their two economies are tied to oil, adding that all cannot be well with both countries when the world oil market is unstable, he added.

Republican Candidates Clash Over How To Counter ISIS

Donald Trump and CruzUS Republican presidential candidates have held another fiery TV debate; the first since the terror attacks in California and Paris.

The candidates clashed over national security issues and how best to counter the Islamic State (ISIS).

Front runner, Donald Trump was on the defensive, with Jeb Bush calling him a “chaos candidate”.

Mr trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the US put him on the defensive in the early minutes of the debate.

Insults, attacks and policy critiques were all part of the mix as the candidates squared off in Las Vegas.

“Donald is great at the one-liners, but he’s a chaos candidate, and he would be a chaos president”, Bush, the former Florida governor, said, calling Trump’s idea after the San Bernardino terrorist attack to block all Muslims from entering the U.S. not serious. That set off one of the most strident exchanges.

Trump said Bush’s candidacy was a “total disaster”. At one point, he boasted: “I’m at 42 and you’re at 3”, referring to each candidate’s best and worst standing in the national polls.

“Jeb is a very nice person. But we need toughness”, Trump said.

“Donald, you are not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency. And I do have strength”,  Bush countered.

On the issues of national security and immigration, Mr Rubio faced off against his two congressional colleagues in often acrimonious exchanges.

Given how all the candidates assiduously avoided the subject, one would never have guessed that it was a story that merited global headlines and ignited a firestorm of controversy.

But the top nine candidates disagreed over the scope of government surveillance and how to end the civil war raging in Syria.

“If terrorists strike again, the first question will be, ‘Why didn’t we know about it and why didn’t we stop it?” said Mr Rubio, taking aim at Mr Cruz, who had voted to curtail government surveillance powers.

Speaking to reporters after the debate, Trump said Mr Bush’s attacks were because he was having a “hard time” in the polls.

Anti-APEC Protests Take Place In Manila

anti-apec-protest

A huge crowd of protesters have taken to the streets of the Manila, the Philippine capital, where leaders are attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) regional trade summit.

Hundreds of people from indigenous, student and labour groups clashed with Police, who deployed water cannon.

The anti-globalisation protesters are calling for APEC to be dismantled, accusing the trade bloc of taking advantage of poorer countries.

The summit has been overshadowed by territorial disputes over China’s activities in the South China Sea.

Leaders have also called for greater global anti-terror cooperation, following the Paris attacks.

France Mobilises 115,000 Personnel To Secure Citizens

french gunmenFrance has mobilised 115,000 security personnel over the whole of its territory to insure the protection of citizens and forestall further attacks.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said police gendarmes and military have been deployed days after Islamist militants attacked Paris.

He vowed to boost funding for police equipment, which he said had fallen by 17% in 2007-12.

The interior minister added that 128 raids on suspected Islamist militants had been carried out overnight on Monday to Tuesday.

More than 160 raids were made earlier on Monday, with 23 people arrested and dozens of weapons seized.

“Psychopathic Monsters”

After the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, warned that new terror attacks were being planned in France and other European countries, Belgium’s government raised its terror threat level because of the failure so far to arrest one of the suspects, Brussels-born Salah Abdeslam, causing Tuesday’s football match between the national team and Spain to be cancelled.

There has been a huge manhunt for Abdeslam since Monday.

The measures came as US Secretary of State, John Kerry, visited Paris.

Speaking on Monday outside the US embassy, he described IS as “psychopathic monsters”.

He called France America’s oldest friend and first ally, and said the only response to the attacks must be a fierce sense of solidarity.

French aircraft have, however, started retaliatory attacks in Raqqa, the stronghold of the Islamic State group in Syria, which claimed responsibility for Friday’s attacks.

Mr Valls said that France was dealing with a “terrorist army”, rather than a single terrorist group.

France PM Warns Of More Attacks To Come

paris attacksFrench Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, has warned that new terror attacks are being planned in France and other European countries.

He also said that Friday’s attacks by Islamist militants in Paris were planned and organised from Syria.

A total of 129 people died in the attacks on bars and restaurants, a concert hall and the Stade de France while 352 others were injured. According to the persecutor, 99 others are in critical condition.

France is to hold a nationwide minute of silence at midday local time for the victims, the BBC reported.

A huge manhunt is under way for surviving members and accomplices of the Islamist group that carried out the attack.

Meanwhile, two more attackers have been named, as well as the five already identified.

Conducting Raids

Police have named Brussels-born Salah Abdeslam, 26, as a key suspect. He was reportedly stopped by officers in the wake of the attacks – but then let go.

Meanwhile, French aircraft have started retaliatory attacks in Raqqa, the stronghold of the Islamic State group in Syria, which claimed responsibility for Friday’s attacks.

Mr Valls said that France was dealing with a “terrorist army”, rather than a single terrorist group.

“We know that operations were being prepared and are still being prepared, not only against France but other European countries too,” Mr Valls said.

Security forces are conducting raids across France and Belgium.

French Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said that 168 raids have been conducted in eight different locations, with arms and cash retrieved.

Authorities said they sieized a rocket launcher in the city of Lyon in one of the raids.

Buhari Condemns Paris Attacks, Calls For Cooperation Against Terrorism

Paris-AttackNigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has condemned Friday’s coordinated attacks in Paris, France, and called for multilateral cooperation and collaborative actions to end terrorism.

President Buhari, in a statement by his spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, strongly condemned the attacks that left at least 127 persons dead while at least 180 others were injured.

The President said he received the news of the attack with great shock and profound sadness.

“President Buhari condemns the dastardly and heinous terrorist attacks on innocent civilians in Paris,” the statement read.

After the attacks, a terror group, Islamic State, issued a statement claiming responsibility.

“Unacceptable Affront To Human Values”

The statement from the Nigerian Presidency read: “On behalf of the government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Buhari conveys his heartfelt sympathy to President Francois Hollande and the people France.

“The President also extends sincere condolences to the families, relatives and friends of the unfortunate victims of the callous attacks”.

Mr Buhari further said that the attacks constituted an “unacceptable affront to all human values and civilized norms”.

“As a country which has borne the terrible human cost of terrorist attacks, Nigeria stands in full solidarity with the government and people of France as they mourn those who have sadly lost their lives in the attack on Paris,” President Buhari stated.

Reiterating a call he made during an African Summit in South Africa and the G7 Summit earlier in the year, President Buhari stressed the need for “peace-loving nations of the world to intensify ongoing multilateral cooperation and collaborative actions aimed at bringing the scourge of international terrorism to a speedy end for the benefit of all nations”.

An Art Of War

The French President, Francois Hollande, has promised to wage a merciless fight against terrorists, describing the the attacks as “an art of war organised by the Islamic State”.

Paris-Attack-Face-of-terror
France has been thrown into mourning after Friday night attacks

He has declared a state of emergency across France and ordered the closure of national borders.

US President Barack Obama has also condemned the attack which he said was an outrageous attempt to terrorise innocent civilians.

“This is an attack not just on Paris or the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.

“We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance the government and the people of France need to respond.

“We will do whatever it takes to work with the French people and with nations around the world to bring these terrorists to justice and go after any terrorists’ networks that go after out people,” President Obama said.

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, also condemned the attacks, saying that the British government will stand with the French people in the face of evil.

Other world leaders, including the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, have also sent condolence messages to France, expressing their support.

More Troops Deployed In Paris As Hunt For Terror Accomplice Continues

Hayat
Hayat Boumeddiene

The French government has deployed 500 more troops in Paris, to tighten security in the area, following three days of terror which led to the death of 17 people.

According to the Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, the government was taking all necessary measures to protect the country, even as thousands have taken to the streets, in silent marches, to remember the victims.

Also, Police in France are hunting for any accomplices of three gunmen killed by police on Friday after two sieges.

However, President Francois Hollande has warned that danger is not over yet, as the search continues for Hayat Boumeddiene, who was said to be with one of the attackers when a policewoman was killed in Paris on Thursday.

She has been described as “armed and dangerous”.

“We have to be vigilant. I also ask you to be united – it’s our best weapon,” said Mr Hollande in a televised address on Friday night.

Also, France’s chief prosecutor, Francois Molins, has said that 16 people had been detained for questioning, including the wife of one of the Kouachi brothers, who attacked the Charlie Hebdo company.