One Suspect Surrenders in Attack on French Newspaper; Two Others at Large
By DAN BILEFSKY and MAÏA de la BAUME JAN. 7, 2015
In Paris, Solidarity Against Terrorism
Hours after the deadly attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, thousands gathered in the Place de la République to show support for free speech.
Video by Pierre Kattar on Publish Date January 7, 2015. Photo by Ian Langsdon/European Pressphoto Agency.
PARIS — The police organized an enormous manhunt across the Paris region on Wednesday for three suspects they said were involved in a brazen and methodical midday slaughter at a satirical newspaper that had lampooned Islam.
The terrorist attack by masked gunmen on the newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, left 12 people dead — including the top editor, prominent cartoonists and police officers — and was among the deadliest in postwar France. The killers escaped, traumatizing the city and sending shock waves through Europe and beyond.
Officials said late Wednesday that two of the suspects were brothers. They were identified as Said and Chérif Kouachi, 32 and 34. The third suspect is Hamyd Mourad, 18. French news reports said the brothers, known to intelligence services, had been born in Paris, raising the prospect that homegrown Muslim extremists were responsible.
Early Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor said that Mr. Mourad had walked into a police station in Charleville-Mézières, about 145 miles northeast of Paris, and surrendered.
Cherif Kouachi, left, 32, and his brother, Said Kouachi, 34, who are suspected in a deadly attack on a satirical newspaper in Paris. Credit French Police
“He introduced himself and was put in custody,” said the spokeswoman, Agnès Thibault-Lecuivre.
The assault threatened to deepen the distrust of France’s large Muslim population, coming at a time when Islamic radicalism has become a central concern of security officials throughout Europe.
In the space of a few minutes, the assault also crystallized the culture clash between religious extremism and the West’s devotion to free expression. Spontaneous rallies expressing support for Charlie Hebdo sprung up later in the day in Paris, throughout Europe and in Union Square in New York.
Officials and witnesses said at least two gunmen carried out the attack with assault weapons and military-style precision. President François Hollande of France called it a display of extraordinary “barbarism” that was “without a doubt” an act of terrorism. He declared Thursday a national day of mourning.
He also raised the nationwide terror alert to its highest level, saying several terrorist attacks had been thwarted in recent weeks as security officials here and elsewhere in Europe have grown increasingly wary of the return of young citizens from fighting in Syria and Iraq.
The French authorities put some schools on lockdown for the day; added security at houses of worship, news media offices and transportation centers; and conducted random searches on the Paris Métro.
The Paris prosecutor, François Molins, said that according to witnesses, the attackers had screamed “Allahu akbar!” or “God is great!” during the attack, which the police characterized as a “slaughter.”
Corinne Rey, a cartoonist known as Coco, who was at the newspaper office during the attack, told Le Monde that the attackers spoke fluent French and said that they were part of Al Qaeda.
Paris Newspaper Shooting: The Sequence of Events
A visual summary of the attack and the events that followed.
An amateur video of the assailants’ subsequent gunfight with the police showed the men shouting: “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad. We have killed Charlie Hebdo!” The video, the source of which could not be verified, also showed the gunmen killing a police officer as he lay wounded on a nearby street.
The victims at Charlie Hebdo included some of the country’s most popular and iconoclastic cartoonists. The weekly’s editorial director , Stéphane Charbonnier, had already been receiving light police protection after earlier threats, the police and Mr. Molins said. An officer assigned to guard the newspaper’s offices and Mr. Charbonnier was among the victims.
As news of the assault spread, there was an outpouring of grief mixed with expressions of dismay and demonstrations of solidarity for free speech.
By the evening, not far from the site of the attack in east Paris, an estimated 35,000 — young and old — gathered at Place de La République. Some chanted, “Charlie! Charlie!” or held signs reading, “I am Charlie” — the message posted on the newspaper’s website.
The Tense Mood in Paris
Parisians discussed what the terrorist attack in the heart of the city could mean for France and its large Muslim population.
Video by Quynhanh Do and Stefania Rousselle on Publish Date January 7, 2015. Photo by Thibault Camus/Associated Press.
Vigils of hundreds and thousands formed in other cities around France and elsewhere.
Mr. Molins said that two men armed with AK-47 rifles and wearing black masks had forced their way into the weekly’s offices at 10 Rue Nicolas-Appert in the 11th Arrondissement, about 11:30 a.m. They opened fire at people in the lobby before making their way to the newsroom on the second floor, interrupting a staff meeting and firing at the assembled journalists.
The attackers then fled outside, where they clashed three times with the police, shooting one officer as he lay on the ground on a nearby street. They then fled in a black Citroën and headed north on the right bank of Paris. During their escape, prosecutors said, they crashed into another car and injured its female driver before robbing another motorist and driving off in that person’s vehicle. The police said that the black Citroën was found abandoned in the 19th arrondissement.
The precision with which the assailants handled their weapons suggested that they had received military training, the police said. During the attack, which the police said lasted a matter of minutes, several journalists hid under their desks or on the roof, witnesses said.
Deadly Attack in Paris
One journalist, who was at a weekly office meeting during the attack and asked that her name not be used, texted a friend after the shooting: “I’m alive. There is death all around me. Yes, I am there. The jihadists spared me.”
Treasured by many, hated by some and indiscriminate in its offensiveness, Charlie Hebdo has long reveled in provoking.
In 2011, the office of the weekly was badly damaged by a firebomb after it published a spoof issue “guest edited” by the Prophet Muhammad to salute the victory of an Islamist party in Tunisian elections. It had announced plans to publish a special issue renamed “Charia Hebdo,” a play on the word in French for Shariah law.
Police said the dead included four celebrated cartoonists at the weekly, including Mr. Charbonnier, known as Charb, Jean Cabut, Georges Wolinski and Bernard Verlhac.
Clockwise from top left, the cartoonists Jean Cabut, known as Cabu; Bernard Verlhac, who used the name Tignous; Georges Wolinski; and Stéphane Charbonnier, known as Charb, who was also the editorial director of Charlie Hebdo. Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Mr. Charbonnier stoked controversy and drew the ire of many in the Muslim community in 2006 when he republished satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that had been published in a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten. His last cartoon for Charlie Hebdo featured an armed man who appeared to be a Muslim fighter with a headline that read: “Still no attacks in France. Wait! We have until the end of January to offer our wishes.”
Michael J. Morell, a former deputy director of the C.I.A. and now a consultant to CBS News, said it was unclear whether the attackers acted on their own or were directed by organized groups. He called the motive of the attackers “absolutely clear: trying to shut down a media organization that lampooned the Prophet Muhammad.”
“So, no doubt in my mind that this is terrorism,” he said.
Mr. Morell added, “What we have to figure out here is the perpetrators and whether they were self-radicalized or whether they were individuals who fought in Syria and Iraq and came back, or whether they were actually directed by ISIS or Al Qaeda.”
The cover of the current issue of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the Grand Mosque in Paris, one of France’s largest, expressed horror at the assault. “We are shocked and surprised that something like this could happen in the center of Paris. But where are we?” he was quoted saying by Europe1, a radio broadcaster.
“We strongly condemn these kinds of acts and we expect the authorities to take the most appropriate measures.” He added: “This is a deafening declaration of war.”
The attack comes as thousands of Europeans have gone to join jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria, further fueling concerns about Islamic radicalism and terrorism being imported. Those concerns have been particularly acute in France, where fears have grown that militants are bent on retaliation for the government’s support for the United States-led air campaign against jihadists with the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
Last month, Prime Minister Manuel Valls ordered hundreds of additional military personnel onto the streets after a series of attacks across France raised alarms over Islamic terror.
In Dijon and Nantes, a total of 23 people were injured when men drove vehicles into crowds, with one of the drivers shouting an Islamic rallying cry. The authorities depicted both drivers as mentally unstable. The attacks came after violence attributed to “lone-wolf” attackers in London in 2013, in Canada in October and last month in Sydney, Australia.
In September, fighters in Algeria aligned with the Islamic State beheaded Hervé Gourdel, a 55-year-old mountaineering guide from Nice, and released a video documenting the murder. Mr. Gourdel was kidnapped after the Islamic State called on its supporters to wage war against Europeans.
President Obama issued a statement condemning the killings. “Time and again, the French people have stood up for the universal values that generations of our people have defended,” he said.
“France, and the great city of Paris where this outrageous attack took place, offer the world a timeless example that will endure well beyond the hateful vision of these killers. We are in touch with French officials, and I have directed my administration to provide any assistance needed to help bring these terrorists to justice.”
Correction: January 7, 2015
An earlier version of this article misstated the location of the abandoned car believed to have been used by the gunmen, using information from the police. It was found in the 19th Arrondissement, not the 20th.
Aurelien Breeden and Laure Fourquet contributed reporting from Paris, and Michael S. Schmidt from Washington.