Paris attacks: ‘France is at war’, says Hollande
Islamic State video threatens attack on Washington and other European nations
French president Francois Hollande appealed on Monday for a grand coalition including the United States and Russia to eradicate Islamic State in Syria after bloody militant attacks on Paris.
In a solemn address to a joint session of parliament in the Palace of Versailles that began with the words “France is at war”, Mr Hollande announced an increase in police recruitment, a halt to layoffs in the army and a constitutional amendment to strengthen the fight against “war by terrorism“.
Friday’s attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers at restaurants, bars, a soccer stadium and a music hall that killed 129 people and wounded more than 350 were ordered from Syria, planned and prepared in Belgium and carried out with the help of French citizens, he said.
Hollande said he would meet US president Barack Obama in Washington and Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow in the coming days “so we can unite our forces to achieve a result that has taken too long“.
“We will eradicate terrorism,” Mr Hollande declared at the end of a 50-minute speech. Lawmakers from all parties gave him a standing ovation and sang the “Marseillaise” national anthem.
What’s happened so far today?
- French president Francois Hollande called for the eradication of terrorism, telling both houses of parliament that “France is at war”.
- Islamic State released new video threatening an attack on Washington DC and more European countries.
- Barack Obama rejected calls for a US-led ground invasion of Syria.
- United States to make it easier to share intelligence with France.
- Two people detained in Belgium on Saturday are being held on terrorism charges for their suspected role in the attacks on Paris
- Five other people also detained on Saturday were released after going before a judge.
- Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian national currently in Syria, remains investigators’ best lead as the person behind the Paris attacks.
- Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan says a “small number” of people are being monitored by security forces in Ireland following Paris attacks.
- EU foreign ministers gathered in Brussels to discuss the fallout from the Paris attacks.
- French police have raided 168 locations across the country and arrested 23 people.
- Armed officers will be deployed at Wembley Stadium for the England v France football, according to the Metropolitan Police.
Islamic State warned in a new video on Monday that countries taking part in air strikes against Syria would suffer the same fate as France, and threatened to attack in Washington.
The video, which appeared on a site used by Islamic State to post its messages, begins with news footage of the aftermath of Friday’s Paris shootings in which at least 129 people were killed.
The message to countries involved in what it called the “crusader campaign” was delivered by a man dressed in fatigues and a turban, and identified in subtitles as Al Ghareeb the Algerian.
It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the video, which purports to be the work of Islamic State fighters in the Iraqi province of Salahuddine, north of Baghdad.
“Al Ghareeb the Algerian” also warned Europe in the video that more attacks were coming.
Fight against Islamic State
US president Barack Obama on Monday ruled out a shift in strategy in the fight against the Islamic State despite the deadly attacks in Paris, saying putting US troops on the ground to combat the group “would be a mistake”.
Mr Obama, speaking after a G20 leaders’ summit in Turkey, said the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria would redouble efforts to implement the current strategy rather than moving in a new direction, even as the militants threatened to strike Washington.
The United States will make it easier to share planning information and intelligence with France after the Paris attacks, the Pentagon said on Monday.
“In the wake of the recent attack on France, we stand strong and firm with our oldest ally, which is why the US and France have decided to bolster our intelligence sharing,” Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a statement.
French fighter jets launched their biggest raids in Syria to date on Sunday targeting the Islamic State’s stronghold in the city of Raqqa. The operation was carried out in coordination with US forces.
Two people detained in Belgium on Saturday are being held on terrorism charges for their suspected role in the attacks on Paris, Belgian federal prosecutors have said. The two, about whom officials gave no details, face charges of leading a terrorist attack and taking part in the activities of a terrorist organisation.
Five other people also detained on Saturday were released after going before a judge. The prosecutors also said that the search of a house in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, which was under police siege for four hours, failed to produce evidence and no arrests were made.
Police donning balaclavas and assault rifles mounted a tense hours-long stand-off outside the suspected hideout of 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam.
He has been identified as the alleged driver of a rental car that delivered attackers to the Bataclan rock concert. That car, rented by Abdeslam, was found abandoned on Paris’ east side with several assault rifles and clips of ammunition still inside.
French border police had stopped him on Saturday but unwittingly allowed Abdeslam to travel on to Belgium, unaware of an arrest warrant that had been issued in Paris that described him as extremely dangerous.
One of Abdeslam’s brothers, Brahim, blew himself up outside a Paris restaurant, also killing one civilian, during Friday night’s attacks involving six suicide bombers. His other brother, Mohamed, was detained by Belgian police but released without charge on Monday.
Police in France named two of the French attackers as Ismael Omar Mostefai, 29, from Chartres, southwest of Paris, and Samy Amimour, 28, from the Paris suburb of Drancy.
A source close to the investigation said Belgian national Abdelhamid Abaaoud, currently in Syria, was suspected of having ordered the Paris operation.
“He appears to be the brains behind several planned attacks in Europe,” the source said. RTL Radio said Abaaoud was a 27-year-old from the Brussels district of Molenbeek, home to many Muslim immigrants and a focal point for Islamist radicalism in recent years.
French police raided 168 locations across the country and arrested 23 people as authorities identified more members of a sleeper cell said to be behind the Paris terror attacks.
Turkish police arrested Islamic State suspects last week in an Istanbul plot linked to the Paris attacks, according to officials.
‘Small number’ of people in Ireland
Earlier, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said that a “small number” of people are being monitored by security forces in Ireland, warning that Ireland “does not have any special exemption” from the terrorist events that took place in Paris.
Speaking on his way into a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, Mr Flanagan said that there are “a small number of people in Ireland whose behaviour and activities are being monitored and are continuing to be monitored.”
“Ireland doesn’t have any special exemption as far as these matters are concerned. However, we understand the threat to be very low. We are vigilant. We are engaging with our European partners in intelligence gathering. Our Garda Síochána are very active.”
With the police investigation focusing on Brussels as a key hub for the Paris attacks, security has been increased in the Belgian capital, with mounted police and heavily armed soldiers patrolling the area around the European Commission and Council this morning.
Links between French and Belgian jihadist groups have been revealed before. The Frenchman who is believed to have carried out shootings in the Jewish Museum in Brussels in June 2014 lived in the Molenbeek area, as did the heavily-armed attacker who boarded a packed Amsterdam-Paris train in Brussels and began shooting before being overpowered by passengers.
Speaking at the G20 summit in Turkey, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker warned against a “base reaction” to the Paris attacks, insisting that EU asylum policy should not be changed.
“We should not mix the different categories of people coming to Europe. The one responsible for the attacks in Paris... he is a criminal and not a refugee and not an asylum seeker, ” Mr Juncker said.
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has said EU migrant quotas would spread terrorism in Europe, adding that Brussels “cannot challenge the right of member states to defend themselves”.
Slovak prime minister Robert Fico pointed to Muslims in his country as a potential threat on Monday and said his government was “monitoring” its community in the wake of the Paris attacks.
Armed officers will be deployed at Wembley Stadium for the England v France football match in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, the Metropolitan Police has said.
Fans going to the game have been told to expect an increased police presence at transport hubs and “in and around” the stadium, including armed officers.
Additional reporting from agencies