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January 7, 2015 5:01 pm

‘The Muslims Have Turned Paris Into a Battlefield:’ Islamists Celebrate Terror Attack Against Charlie Hebdo

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avatar by Ben Cohen

Charlie Hebdo's editor was included on an Al Qaeda "Most Wanted" poster in 2013. Image: MEMRI

Jihadi terrorists and their sympathizers have flocked to online forums in celebration of the attack earlier today against the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, in which twelve people were murdered.

The attack, denounced by French President Francois Hollande as an act of “exceptional barbarity,” drew enthusiastic praise from supporters of Islamic State (IS) and other jihadi terrorist groups.

A report from the Middle East Media and Research Institute (MEMRI) quoted a number of jihadi sources expressing their approval of the attack. One contributor to the Jihadi Media platform, a pro-IS online forum, declared: “France is one of the harshest enemies of Islam and of the Islamic State in particular.” Another contributor wrote: “France was [once] part of the land of Islam and will return to be the land of Islam, in spite the worshippers of the Cross.”

Over the last several months, France has emerged as a top target for IS. In September 2014, IS spokesman Abu Muhammad Al Adanani urged IS supporters worldwide to mount attacks in their countries of residence against both military and civilian targets, using any means available. Al Adanani  specifically identified France as a recommended target, a separate MEMRI dispatch reported at the time.

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Similar themes were echoed by several jihadi sympathizers on Twitter. A user identified as Najam wrote: “#Paris Is Burning. Oh Allah slaughter them, Allah attack them. This newspaper insulted the Messenger of Allah and Islam.” Another user commented: “France turned the lands of the Muslims into battlefields, and now the Muslims have turned Paris into a battlefield. Allahu akhbar.”

In March 2013, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) placed Charlie Hebdo editor and cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier on a “most wanted” poster published in its English-language magazine Inspire. Charbonnier, who was murdered in today’s attack, declared in a 2012 interview, “Without freedom of speech we are dead. We can’t live in a country without freedom of speech. I prefer to die than live like a rat.” Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters had previously been firebombed in 2011 after the magazine published images of the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb embedded in his turban.

The Long War Journal, a Washington, DC-based publication focused on the war on terror, underscored the professionalism of today’s attack, asserting that it “appears to have been executed by hardened and well-trained fighters who may have received instructions at a training facility overseas, or locally in France. The attackers may also be ex-military.”

Analyzing video of the attack, the Journal observed that “the two attackers move in side-by-side formation and fire deliberately while shooting at a French police officer who is four to five car lengths away. After the officer is shot and downed, the two gunmen move quickly towards the policemen. One shoots and executes the officer in stride. Both men move past the body, peer up the street for additional targets, then peel off and move back to the black car and leave the scene of the attack.”

The Journal concluded: “The tactic of using heavily armed gunmen to attack well defended military targets or lightly defended civilian targets is commonly used by jihadist groups, including al Qaeda, the Islamic State, the Taliban, and a host of allies in the war-torn countries of Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Nigeria. But jihadist groups have also executed such attacks on civilians outside of war zones, including in Mumbai, India in 2008 and Nairobi, Kenya in 2013.”

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