Charlie Hebdo Paris Terrorist Attack: new tactics, a new war for France

Twelve people have been killed and 10 – 15 people wounded, 5 of whom seriously wounded (4 critically) in this morning’s terrorist attack in the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satire magazine in Paris.

The group used a group-level systematic approach similar to ISIS.  The attack was systemic in nature because of the planning involved. Once in the publication’s newsroom they demanded employees to identify themselves by name,  perhaps to allow the gunmen to determine whom to kill. The group had a planned infiltration plan into the building and expedited exfil plan to rapidly exit the building and area.  They took advantage knowing that in most areas of France and certainly Paris police are unarmed.  This will certainly change.  

This follows perhaps 12 terrorist plots identified in France over the last several months. The extremist Islamic State has threatened to attack France, and previously before the attack Charlie Hebdo had tweeted a satirical cartoon of that extremist group's leader Abu al-Baghdadi giving New Year's wishes.  Charlie Hebdo has been repeatedly threatened for publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, among other controversial sketches- -- its offices were firebombed in 2011. That firebombing came after a spoof issue featuring a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad on its cover.  A year later, the publication again published crude Muhammad caricatures, drawing denunciations around the Muslim world.

The magazine has published anti-ISIS and Prophet Mohammed cartoons in the past. Today’s attack comes on the same day of the release of a book by a celebrated French novelist depicting France's election of its first Muslim president.   Additionally, French President Hollande had been due to meet with the country's top religious officials later in the day. On January 1st, an arsonist set a fire to a Paris synagogue and painted swastikas on its walls.  Whether the attack is related to any of these events is unknown.  This event marks a turn in the level of France’s involvement in the war with radical jihadists. The incident, while itself a terrorist attack, strategically is more than that, in that France is now ‘at war’ with radical jihadists.