Paris attackers very professional, say security experts
All three men who attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo yesterday appeared to have military training and experience in battle, say security experts. Also, they were probably trained overseas, and the attack was planned to intimidate journalists around the world.
As French police and special forces launched a Paris-wide manhunt for three suspects who were last seen heading for the northeast end of the city, terror experts observed that the gunmen executed a carefully crafted plan.
Video footage of the assault shows a “shocking” calmness among the attackers, evidence that they have been well-trained and have likely seen battle overseas, according to Derek Humble, Globe Risk International senior operational consultant.
“These are too professional to be suicide bombers,” Humble told CTV News Channel on Wednesday.
“Suicide bombers are the riff-raff that they pull into the organization and use them as cannon fodder. These guys are very, very professional. They’ve probably been in battle, they’ve probably been under fire. The calmness that they displayed throughout this attack is the shocking thing.”
“That comes with training,” Humble added.
Eyewitnesses reported that the gunmen spoke perfect French, which suggests they may have been born, or at least largely raised, in France.
Therefore terror experts believe they have spent a considerable amount of time training with a radical group overseas, and were then sent home to perpetrate an attack designed to get the world’s attention.
During their attack, the gunmen reportedly claimed to be members of al Qaeda, but the veracity of those claims has not been confirmed.
“People wonder why we’re trying to stop people from going and joining something like ISIS. It’s because, that’s where they get their basic training,” Humble said.
“They don’t care about how violent they are, they’ve seen violence.”
The gunmen may have spent as long as two years with a group overseas before they were ordered home and supplied with weapons, Humble said.
“You’ve got to take the battle to where it’s going to get noticed, which is, in this case, Paris,” he said.
Chilling details are emerging from the attack that suggest a professionalism not previously seen in terrorist attacks in Europe. The attackers took their time and identified their targets by name before shooting. Among the dead: the editor in chief of the magazine and three cartoonists.
One of the brothers, Cherif Kouachi, 32, was featured in a 2005 documentary:
Cherif Kouachi, 32, was briefly featured in a 2005 French television documentary as an aspiring rap musician who was arrested on terror charges that put him in prison for a year and a half. At the time, Cherif had told a French court that the scandal at Abu Ghraib prison and the influence of a young religious leader convinced him to give up rapping to prepare himself for jihad abroad, according to local reports.
This is exactly the kind of attack that authorities have been warning about: young European Muslims either returning from the battlefields of the Middle East or sent home to carry out mass casualty terror attacks on the populace. It is not likely to be the last such attack either – not in France, nor anywhere else in the Western world.