FP’s Situation Report: Manhunt continues for two at-large gunmen involved in Paris attack; Suspects allegedly have ties to Islamic extremism; Attack fuels Europe’s far-right; and much more.
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat A massive manhunt is underway in northern and eastern France for two at-large gunmen who stormed a satirical magazine in Paris yesterday, killing 12. French authorities are frantically searching for French-Algerian brothers Said Kouachi, 34, and Cherif Kouachi, 32. Hamyd Mourad, an 18-year-old suspect in the attack, turned himself ...
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat
A massive manhunt is underway in northern and eastern France for two at-large gunmen who stormed a satirical magazine in Paris yesterday, killing 12. French authorities are frantically searching for French-Algerian brothers Said Kouachi, 34, and Cherif Kouachi, 32. Hamyd Mourad, an 18-year-old suspect in the attack, turned himself in early Thursday morning. Authorities allege the three stormed a staff meeting of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine that often runs provocative content on Islam, and called out individual staffers before killing them. The three, who conducted the raid with precision and military-grade weapons, then escaped into the streets and out of Paris, making them fugitives in France’s worst terror attack in years.
The Washington Post’s Griff Witte and Anthony Faiola: “There was no indication Wednesday that any of the assailants had battlefield experience. But experts said the men were well prepared for their mission, and there were widespread reports that one of the alleged suspects, Cherif Kouachi, had been convicted of recruiting fighters to battle American forces in Iraq.” More here.
The suspects allegedly have ties to Islamic extremism. Law enforcement authorities connected all three suspects to radical Islam, and witnesses say that the gunmen praised Allah as they executed victims. France’s long-time fears of a homegrown attack are realized as it joins Australia and Canada as Western fronts in the fight against extremist elements in the Middle East.
FP’s Elias Groll: “According to witness reports, the gunmen were outfitted in black hoods and carried Kalashnikov assault rifles. Christophe Crepin, a police union spokesman, told the Associated Press that the attack was carried out while the magazine staff was in the middle of an editorial meeting and that the gunmen immediately targeted its editor, Stéphane Charbonnier. The attack lasted mere minutes.” More here.
The attack adds fuel to Europe’s right-wing fire. Recent election results introduced dangerous far-right parties to European politics. Marine Le Pen, the head of France’s National Front, immediately seized the attack as a means of promoting the group’s anti-Islam agenda. But perhaps more dangerously, it comes amid of a wave of anti-immigrant incidents across the continent. Europe continues to struggle with the perceived safety of isolationism and the opportunities, as well as the risks, presented by multiculturalism.
The New York Times’ Steven Erlanger and Katrin Bennhold: “Anti-immigrant attitudes have been on the rise in recent years in Europe, propelled in part by a moribund economy and high unemployment, as well as increasing immigration and more porous borders. The growing resentments have lifted the fortunes of established parties like the U.K. Independence Party in Britain and the National Front, as well as lesser-known groups like Patriotic Europeans Against Islamization of the West, which assembled 18,000 marchers in Dresden, Germany, on Monday.” More here.
More on France below.
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Who’s Where When Today
11:00 a.m. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel welcomes Slovakian Defense Minister Martin Glvac. 12:00 p.m. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with national security adviser Susan Rice. 12:25 p.m. President Barack Obama delivers remarks in Phoenix, Arizona. 2:00 p.m. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack launches the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba at the National Press Club.
What’s Moving Markets
The Financial Times’ Claire Jones on eurozone deflation: “The eurozone fell into deflation for the first time in more than five years, making it a near certainty that the European Central Bank will embark on a full-scale government bond-buying spree despite German opposition.” More here.
Bloomberg’s Rainer Buergin, Birgit Jennen, and Brian Parkin on Germany’s softer position vis-a-vis Greece: “Germany is leaving the door open to discussing debt relief with Greece’s next government, lawmakers in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition said, signaling a more flexible stance than her administration has taken publicly.” More here.
Caixin on how China could use low oil prices to reform its energy sector: “Upstream, competition must be introduced to weed out the unfit, to arrest the decline in profits; downstream, the markets must be opened up as soon as the upstream monopolies have been broken up.” More here.
The Guardian’s Damian Carrington on a new study that specifies which of the world’s resources have to remain in the ground to prevent climate change: “It shows trillions of dollars of known and extractable coal, oil and gas, including most Canadian tar sands, all Arctic oil and gas and much potential shale gas, cannot be exploited if the global temperature rise is to be kept under the 2C safety limit agreed by the world’s nations.” More here.
The Washington Post’s Thomas Gibbons-Neff on video of the assault: “Although videos of the attack do not shed much light on the attackers’ identities, they do indicate a level of preparedness. One video, shot from what appears to be a second- or third-story window, shows two shooters exiting a black hatchback and engaging a police officer from roughly 50 meters away.” More here.
The Wall Street Journal’s William Horobin and Sam Schechner on French resilience after the attack: “The French capital was far from lockdown Wednesday evening, as thousands poured into one of the city’s squares for an impromptu rally to condemn the attack on magazine Charlie Hebdo.” More here.
Bloomberg’s Noah Feldman speculating on the aims of the attackers: “It’s too soon to know for sure, but if it’s correct that the gunmen told bystanders they were from al-Qaeda in Yemen, as some newspapers are reporting, then a possible hypothesis emerges: This is an old-style, al-Qaeda jihadi attack against a Western capital designed to create global attention — and its major aim is to compete with the new style of sovereignty-creating jihadism that has been so successful for Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.” More here.
France 24 on “Charlie Hebdo, the fearless weekly that lampoons sacred cows”: “The left-leaning magazine is known for its provocative and acerbic commentary on world affairs, routinely taking on the high and mighty, be they celebrities, presidents or popes.” More here.
Newsweek‘s Polly Mosendz on three French media companies promising to support the future publication of Charlie Hebdo: “Radio France, Le Monde and France Télévisions issued a joint memo following the attacks, saying they would provide the staff and support necessary to make sure the satirical magazine, known for its attacks on radical religion, would ‘continue to live.’” More here.
FP’s David Rothkopf argues for the need to publish controversial material. “In free societies, there are no prohibitions based on the opinions of a few over whether something is smart or stupid, tasteful or repugnant. Indeed, it is the freedom to cross those lines or openly flaunt them that marks societies as truly open and encourages the kind of intellectual and artistic vibrancy that, whenever it has been fostered, has driven civilization forward.” More here.
Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin asks whether the attack was inspired by the Islamic State: “Two months ago, a group of French members of Islamic State put out a video calling on Muslims to conduct terror attacks on French soil and offering them direct operational support. This morning, their calls were answered.” More here.
FP’s Siobhán O’Grady on previous attacks on Charlie Hebdo: “This is the second attack on the magazine’s headquarters in the past four years. In November 2011, the day after the magazine invited the Prophet Mohammed to be a guest editor, the magazine’s offices were firebombed and destroyed in an early-morning attack that left no one dead.” More here.
The New York Times’ Dan Bilefsky has details on detentions made in connection with the attack. More here.
USA Today’s William Cummings reports on another deadly attack on a policewoman in southern Paris this morning. More here.
TIME’s Naina Baijakal covers overnight attacks on several mosques in France. More here.
Bloomberg’s Angeline Benoit, Sandrine Rastello, and Caroline Alexander with more on why the attack could play into the hands of France’s anti-Islamic right-wing leader Marine Le Pen: “‘Time’s up for denial and hypocrisy,’ Le Pen, who has railed against immigration, said in a video posted on her party’s website. ‘The absolute rejection of Islamic fundamentalism must be proclaimed loudly and clearly.’” More here.
The Wall Street Journal’s Andrea Thomas, Anton Troianovski, and Nick Shchetko on a pro-Russia group claiming responsibility for hacking government websites in Germany: “The attack came the same day that Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was expected to arrive in the German capital to sign an agreement for €500 million ($596 million) in loan guarantees to help rebuild war-torn eastern Ukraine.” More here.
The Financial Times’ Christian Oliver on billionaire investor George Soros criticizing Western leaders’ strategy toward Russia: “In an interview with the Financial Times, the Hungarian-born philanthropist complained that European leaders were treating Ukraine as ‘just another country’ in need of financial assistance rather than realising that the crisis on the EU’s eastern border posed a greater danger to Europe’s economy, and even the survival of the EU, than the Greek election.” More here.
Rolling Stones’ John Knefel on the false end to the war: “[D]espite the new announcement that the formal conflict is over, America’s war there is far from finished. In fact, the Obama administration still considers the Afghan theater an area of active hostilities, according to an email from a senior administration official — and therefore exempts it from the stricter drone and targeted killing guidelines the president announced at a major speech at the National Defense University in 2013.” More here.
Reuters’s David Alexander with details on air strikes: “U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria have damaged or destroyed 3,222 targets since August, including 58 tanks, 184 Humvees, 673 fighting positions and 980 buildings or barracks, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.” More here.
Wired‘s Andy Greenberg reports on evidence the FBI uncovered confirming North Korea is behind the hack on Sony. “Sony hackers sometimes failed to use the proxy servers that masked the origin of their attack, revealing IP addresses that the FBI says were used exclusively by North Korea.” More here.
The New York Times’ Kareem Fahim on Yemen’s push to stop the return of al Qaeda: “Yemen is reeling from some of the worst carnage in years as militants, especially Sunni extremists with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, have retaliated with growing ferocity.” More here.
FP’s John Hudson on Israel’s change of heart on U.S. aid for Palestine: “For years, Israel has acted as a brake on efforts by pro-Israel members of Congress to cut off aid to Palestine during periodic flare-ups between Arabs and Jews. But Jerusalem, irked by Palestinian efforts to join the International Criminal Court, is no longer standing in the way, according to lawmakers.” More here.
AFP on the ninth person executed since the death penalty moratorium was lifted following the Taliban school massacre: “Pakistani officials have said they plan to hang 500 convicts in the coming weeks, drawing protest from international human rights campaigners.” More here.
Writing for Foreign Policy, Simon Henderson on the looming succession battle over the House of Saud: “The kingdom’s leadership is arguably actually at a crossroads, with two royal factions vying for preeminence. The outcome could produce a whole range of new faces in positions of power in Riyadh. This could emerge as a problem for Washington, as experienced hands could be replaced with merely ambitious ones.” More here.
Boston Marathon Bomber Trial
CNN’s Catherine E. Shoichet and Drew Griffin explore what little is known about Katherine Russell, widow of the suspect’s brother: “Federal investigators have questioned Russell, who married Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2010, but they haven’t revealed what she told them. It’s one of many questions looming as the trial for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, her brother-in-law, starts this week.” More here.
NBC News on Ebola’s toll on medical workers: “The Ebola virus has infected more than 800 health care workers, killing nearly 500 of them, according to the latest numbers released by the World Health Organization Wednesday.” More here.
Reuters on the White House’s denial that Cuba is reticent to release some of the 53 prisoners: “The denial followed a report on Wednesday by Reuters citing a congressional aide who said that ‘we’ve been told that the Cuban government has agreed to release all but several of the political prisoners on the list.’” More here.
A note from Dustin Walker, Senator John McCain’s (R-Az.) communications director, on the timing of Ashton Carter’s confirmation hearing: “The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing to consider the nomination of Dr. Ashton Carter to be Secretary of Defense the first week of February. Consistent with his long-held view that executive appointments deserve swift and thorough adjudication by the Senate, Senator McCain was prepared to hold a confirmation hearing immediately. However, he gladly accommodated a request by Dr. Carter for additional time to complete his recovery from a recent medical procedure.”
And finally, the Washington Post’s Abby Ohlheiser captures cartoonists reacting with #JeSuisCharlie. More here.