Friday, January 09, 2015

French Police Close in on Paris Terror Suspects

Police officer Ahmed Merabet who was murdered
Hopefully, French police will capture the two suspects in the Charlie Hebdo massacre.  The two are reportedly holed up in a town near Charles DeGaulle airport where they are reported to be holding at least one hostage.  One of the sick ironies of the whole affair is that the police officer shot and killed like a dog was Muslim himself, a fact that those fanning anti-Muslim hate - e.g., French far right politicians - need to not forget.  Just as many Christians do not support the ugly actions of  fundamentalist "Christians," a majority of Muslims do not condone the savagery and hate that are the hallmarks of Islamic fundamentalists.  The Washington Post reports on the current stand off.  Here are excerpts:
French security forces closed in Friday on the brothers suspected in France’s worst terrorist attack in generations, surrounding a commercial building outside Paris where the pair was believed holed up with at least one hostage.

The search narrowed to a printing business in Dammartin-en-Goele, about 25 miles northeast of Paris, where authorities believe the brothers headed in a stolen car. Authorities say the suspects held at least one hostage, but gave no further details.

In scenes reminiscent of recent standoffs — including last month’s hostage-taking at a Sydney cafe — French police put the area under lockdown orders, asking people to stay indoors and turn off their lights as the drama played out on an overcast afternoon.

French media, citing police sources, reported that the brothers appeared ready to make a last stand rather than surrender. It was not immediately clear what weapons they had available, but previous reports said they had Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

They took refuge in the printing business after stealing a car and firing shots, French media reported.
A client at the business said he shook hands with one of the armed fugitives, believing he was a police special forces officer, France Info radio reported.

Fresh details emerged Thursday that one of the brothers had tried to meet with al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen.

U.S. officials said the older of the two, Said Kouachi, is believed to have traveled to Yemen in 2011 in an effort to link up with al-Qaeda’s affiliate there at a time when that group was eclipsing the terror network’s core leadership in Pakistan as the principal threat to the United States.

U.S. officials said Kouachi may have received small-arms training and picked up other skills while in Yemen, but they described the years that followed that 2011 visit as a “kind of hole” in the timeline, with significant gaps in authorities’ understanding of the brothers’ activities and whereabouts.

French officials vowed to bring the men to justice and announced that they had taken nine people into custody in relation to the case. Authorities would not release their names, but French media said that those picked up in the dragnet included a sister of the men as well as her companion and the wife of Said Kouachi. 

“I’m afraid this is going to open a boulevard for the far right,” said Diane Tribout, 28, a public servant who joined a candlelight vigil in the Place de la Republique on Thursday, where crowds chanted, “Charlie isn’t dead!”

“On the streets of Paris, you might not see it as obviously, but I know that in small towns and villages all across France, this tragic event is going to be used to fuel anger and rage,” Tribout said.

Marine Le Pen, the head of the far-right [Neo-Nazi] National Front, which has surged in opinion polls here well before Wednesday’s attack, spoke out Thursday, calling her party the only one that had challenged the notion of “Islamic fundamentalism on our territory.”

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