PARIS (CBS News/CBSDC/AP) — Three masked gunmen stormed the Paris offices of a satirical newspaper Wednesday, killing 12 people, including its editor, before escaping in a car. It was France’s deadliest postwar terrorist attack.
CBS News’ Elaine Cobbe reports that, according to witnesses, two armed and masked men walked into the headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and opened fire in the entrance hallway, killing people as they saw them. The gunmen reportedly sought out members of the newspaper’s staff by name during the rampage through the 2nd floor office, which lasted between five and 10 minutes, according to witnesses.
Security forces were hunting for the gunmen who spoke flawless, unaccented French in the military-style noon-time attack on the weekly newspaper, located near Paris’ Bastille monument. The publication’s caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed have frequently drawn condemnation from Muslims.
President Francois Hollande called the slayings “a terrorist attack without a doubt,” and said several other attacks have been thwarted in France “in recent weeks.”
France raised its security alert to the highest level and reinforced protective measures at houses of worship, stores, media offices and transportation. Schools closed across Paris, although thousands of people jammed Republique Square near the site of the shooting to honor the victims.
Top government officials held an emergency meeting and Hollande planned a nationally televised address later Wednesday evening.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which also left four people critically wounded, and was condemned by world leaders as an attack on freedom of expression, but praised by supporters of the militant Islamic State group.
Clad all in black with hoods and carrying machine guns, the attackers forced one of the cartoonists arriving at the office building with her young daughter to open the door with a security code.
The staff was in an editorial meeting and the gunmen headed straight for the paper’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier – widely known by his pen name Charb – killing him and his police bodyguard first, said Christophe Crepin, a police union spokesman. Minutes later, two men strolled out to a black car waiting below, calmly firing on a police officer, with one gunman shooting him in the head as he writhed on the ground, according to video.
Ten journalists and two police office were killed, Crepin said, including one assigned as Charb’s bodyguard and another who had arrived on the scene on a mountain bike. Among the dead were Bernard Maris, an economist who a contributor to the newspaper and was heard regularly on French radio, and Georges Wolinski, a celebrated cartoonist who also worked for Paris Match magazine.
“Hey! We avenged the Prophet Muhammad! We killed Charlie Hebdo,” one of the men shouted in French, according to a video shot from a nearby building and broadcast on French TV. Other videoshowed two gunmen in black at a crossroads who appeared to fire down one of the streets. A cry of “Allahu akbar!” – Arabic for “God is great”- could be heard among the gunshots.
The video showed the killers moving deliberately and calmly. One even bent over to toss a fallen shoe back into the small black car before it sped off. The car was later found abandoned in northern Paris, police said.
Luc Poignant of the SBP police union said the attackers switched to another vehicle that had been stolen.
A reporter for Britain’s Telegraph newspaper in Paris told Sky News that the first two officers to arrive, who were apparently unarmed, fled after seeing gunmen armed with automatic weapons and possibly a grenade launcher.
Corinne Rey, the cartoonist who said she was forced to let the gunmen in, said the men spoke fluent French and claimed to be from al Qaeda. In an interview with the newspaper l’Humanite, she said the entire shooting lasted perhaps five minutes.
The Guardian reports a witness in the office building said one of the gunman asked where Charlie Hebdo was located.
“Then someone opened the door to our office and asked where Charlie Hebdo was. He had a rifle. We backed away. Afterwards he left, we heard gunfire. We went to the windows, there were two men running with guns, speaking in bad French … They were shouting outside, and shooting again. Afterwards I saw someone leaving the building with his hands covered in blood,” the unnamed witness said, according to The Guardian.
The security analyst group Stratfor said the gunmen appeared to be well-trained, “from the way they handled their weapons, moved and shot. These attackers conducted a successful attack, using what they knew, instead of attempting to conduct an attack beyond their capability, failing as a result.”
Both al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have repeatedly threatened to attack France. Just minutes before the attack, Charlie Hebdo had tweeted a satirical cartoon of the Islamic State’s leader giving New Year’s wishes:
Charlie Hebdo has been repeatedly threatened for its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and other sketches. Its offices were firebombed in 2011 after an issue featured a caricature of the prophet on its cover. Nearly a year later, the publication again published Muhammad caricatures, drawing denunciations from the Muslim world because Islam prohibits the publication of drawings of its founder.
Another cartoon, released in this week’s issue and entitled “Still No Attacks in France,” had a caricature of a jihadi fighter saying “Just wait – we have until the end of January to present our New Year’s wishes.” Charb was the artist.
“This is the darkest day of the history of the French press,” said Christophe DeLoire of Reporters Without Borders.
The last tweet from the magazine came less than an hour before the reports of a shooting. It was a picture depicting Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, with a message wishing him, “Best wishes.”
“The motive here is absolutely clear; trying to shut down a media organization that lampooned the Prophet Mohammad,” CBS News security consultant and former CIA deputy chief Mike Morell told “CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose. “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.”
Morrell added a warning that law enforcement and intelligence agencies would need to “worry about copycat attacks, not only in France but in the rest of the world, and I would even say in the broader world to include the United States.”
The New York Police Department released a statement, saying it had a detective stationed in Paris and “will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
“There are standing contingency plans in place to adjust police deployments based on any unfolding situation in the world. That includes how we use and where we position and deploy specialized police resources, said Deputy Commissioner Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller.
In the winter 2014 edition of the al Qaeda magazine Inspire, a so-called chief describing where to use a new bomb said: “Of course the first priority and the main focus should be on America, then the United Kingdom, then France and so on.”
In 2013, the magazine specifically threatened Charb and included an article titled “France the Imbecile Invader.”
An al Qaeda tweeter who communicated Wednesday with AP said the group is not claiming responsibility, but called the attack “inspiring.”
CBS News national security analyst Juan Zarate also noted on “CBS This Morning” that “France has been dealing with the problem of French foreign fighters flowing into Syria and Iraq and coming back into France.”
He says it may be more likely, however, that the attack on Charlie Hebdo was carried out by “self-radicalized individuals, individuals who take their prompt from the propaganda of these groups and took it upon themselves, perhaps, to attack.”
Zarate pointed to the attack by young French Muslim man Mohamed Merah, who shot up a Jewish community center in the country’s south in March 2012, as an example of this sort of violence.
“France is not new to this, and the perpetrators could be a wide spectrum of individuals who were inspired to attack fellow French citizens,” said Zarate.
President Obama said he has reached out to Hollande to express his sympathies for the attack in Paris Wednesday. In remarks before a meeting with Secretary Kerry and Vice President Biden, Obama called the shootings “cowardly and evil.”
“The fact that this was an attack on journalists, an attack on our free press, also underscores the degree to which these terrorists fear freedom of speech, freedom of the press,” Obama said.
He continued, “A universal belief in freedom of expression is something that can’t be silenced because of the senseless violence of the few.” The president promised the U.S. would stand with France and said that U.S. counterterrorism was providing assistance to the French to help hunt for those responsible for the shooting.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said his country stood united with France,
“We stand squarely for free speech and democracy. These people will never be able to take us off those values,” Cameron said in the House of Commons.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also condemned the attack as a “cynical crime,” and pledged cooperation in fighting terrorism,
Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the Union of French mosques, condemned the “hateful act,” and urged Muslims and Christians “to intensify their actions to give more strength to this dialogue, to make a united front against extremism.”
On social media, supporters of militant Islamic groups praised the move. One self-described Tunisian loyalist of al Qaeda and the Islamic State group tweeted that the attack was well-deserved revenge against France.
Elsewhere on the Internet, the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie was trending as people expressed support for weekly and for journalistic freedom.
Standing together in defiance, thousands gather across France to show support for 12 people slaughtered by ‘Al Qaeda’ gunmen in attack on Paris magazine as manhunt for terrorists continues
- Masked gunmen storm Paris headquarters with AK-47s shouting ‘Allahu akbar!’ and ‘the Prophet has been avenged’
- Stalked building asking for people’s names before killing the editor, three cartoonists and the deputy chief editor
- Editor Stephane Charbonnier had famously shrugged off threats, saying: ‘I’d rather die standing than live kneeling’
- Horrific footage shows a police officer begging for his life before being shot in the head at point-blank range
- Cartoonist Corrine Rey told how she cowered with her young daughter as she watched two colleagues gunned down
- Killers fled in stolen car across eastern Paris after a ‘mass shoot-out’ with police officers and remain on the loose
- Militants believed to be from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula which was behind plane bomb plots in U.S. and UK
- Newspaper had earlier posted a picture of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on its Twitter account
- Publication’s offices were firebombed in 2011 for publishing satirical cartoon of Prophet Mohammed
- White House had previously criticised Charlie Hebdo in 2012 for publishing its religiously sensitive cartoons
By SIMON TOMLINSON and PETER ALLEN and JAY AKBAR and CHRIS PLEASANCE FOR MAILONLINE
Thousands of people gathered across Europe tonight to show their support to an anti-Islamist newspaper, after its offices in Paris were targeted today by suspected Al Qaeda militants who massacred 12 people.
Among those slaughtered was a police officer as he begged for mercy.
Masked attackers brandishing Kalashnikovs burst into the Charlie Hebdo headquarters, opening fire on staff after seeking out journalists by name in France’s deadliest post-war terrorist attack.
Clad all in black with hoods and speaking flawless French, the militants forced one of the cartoonists – who was at the office with her young daughter – to open the door.
Witnesses said the gunmen were heard shouting ‘we are from the Al Qaeda in Yemen’, ‘the Prophet has been avenged’ and ‘Allahu akbar!’ – Arabic for ‘God is great’ – as they stalked the building.
They headed straight for the paper’s editor and cartoonist, Stephane Charbonnier, killing him and his police bodyguard, who had been recruited to protect him after extremists firebombed the offices in 2011 over a satirical cartoon about the Prophet Mohammed.
A year later, Mr Charbonnier famously dismissed threats against his life, declaring: ‘I would rather die standing than live kneeling.’
The militants also killed three other renowned cartoonists – men who had regularly satirised Islam – and the newspaper’s deputy chief editor.
Despite a shoot-out with armed officers, the gunmen escaped in a hijacked car and remain on the loose this evening, leaving the French capital in virtual lockdown as police and soldiers flooded the streets to join the search.
President Barack Obama offered U.S. help in pursuing the gunmen, saying they had attacked freedom of expression.
But it also emerged that the White House had previously criticised Charlie Hebdo in 2012 over its Prophet Mohammed cartoon, saying the images would be ‘deeply offensive to many and have the potential to be inflammatory.’
Meanwhile, horrific footage emerged showing an injured police officer slumped on the pavement as two gunmen approached him outside the office minutes later.
In an apparent desperate plea for his life, the officer is seen slowly raising his hand towards one of the attackers, who responds by callously shooting him in the head at point-blank range.
Scroll down for videos and audio
Demonstration: Protesters at the Place de la Republique in Paris tonight, following an attack by gunmen on the offices of Charlie Hebdo
Elsewhere: People gather at the Place Royale in Nantes to show their solidarity for the victims of the attack on the offices of the satirical weekly
Brutal execution: A police officer pleads for mercy on the pavement in Paris before being shot in the head by masked gunmen during an attack on the headquarters of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, a notoriously anti-Islamic publication
Gunned down in cold blood: Horrific footage shows the injured police officer slumped on the pavement as two of the gunmen approach. In a desperate plea for his life, the officer slowly raises his hand towards one of the attackers, who callously shoots him at point-blank range
‘Massacre’: The gunmen are seen brandishing Kalashnikovs as they move in on the injured police officer from their vehicle outside the office
Emergency: Police officers and firefighters gather in front of the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris today after gunmen stormed the building
Critical: Firefighters carry an injured man on a stretcher in front of the offices of French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo after the shooting
Despite a fierce firefight with police, the men were able to get away in a hijacked car, and, within an hour of the atrocity, appeared to have disappeared without trace.
France raised its security alert to the highest level and reinforced protective measures at houses of worship, stores, media offices and transportation.
President Francois Hollande described the bloodbath as a ‘barbaric attack against France and against journalists’ and vowed to hunt down those responsible.
Jacques Myard, French MP with opposition party UMP, said: ‘We knew something would happen. The (security) services used to say to us it’s not if but when and where. We know that we are at war. The Western nations – like Britain, France, Germany – we are at war.’
The Queen today sent her ‘sincere condolences to the families of those who have been killed’ in the attack, while Prime Minister David Cameron described the murders as ‘sickening’.
Social media users have responded to the Charlie Hebdo massacre with an outpouring of solidarity using the hashtag #jesuischarlie which is trending on Twitter.
By 4.15pm, nearly five hours after the attack, it had already been tweeted more than 250,000 times, according to one social analytics website.
Thousands of people also jammed Republique Square near the site of the shooting to honor the victims, holding aloft pens and papers reading ‘Je suis Charlie’ – ‘I am Charlie.’
Guy Verhofstadt, the President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe tweeted: ‘A tragic day for the freedom of speech #jesuischarlie.’
Marches have also been organised through Paris and London in support of journalistic freedom.
As well as the AK47 assault rifles, there were also reports of a rocket-propelled grenade being used in the attack, which took place during the publication’s weekly editorial meeting at around 12pm (11pm GMT), meaning all the journalists would have been present.
A young mother and cartoonist who survived the massacre told how she had let the suspected Al Qaeda killers into the office.
Corrine Rey said she had returned from picking up her young daughter from a kindergarten when she was confronted by two heavily armed men wearing balaclavas.
‘I had gone to pick up my daughter at day care, arriving in front of the building, where two masked and armed men brutally threatened us,’ said Ms Rey, who draws under the name ‘Coco’.
‘They said they wanted to go up to the offices, so I tapped in the code,’ said Ms Rey, referring to the digi-code security system on the interphone.
Ms Rey and her daughter hid under a desk, from where they saw two other cartoonists being executed. ‘They shot Wolinski and Cabu,’ she said. ‘It lasted five minutes. I had taken refuge under a desk.’
Faces of the victims: Among the journalists killed were (l to r) Charlie Hebdo’s deputy chief editor Bernard Maris and cartoonists Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut, aka Cabu, Stephane Charbonnier, who is also editor-in-chief, and Bernard Verlhac, also known as Tignous
At large: The gunmen are seen near the offices of the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo before fleeing in a car. They remain on the loose
Forensic experts examine the car believed to have been used as the escape vehicle by gunmen who attacked the Charlie Hebdo office
A truck tows the car apprently used by armed gunmen who stormed the Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people
A police photographer (partially hidden) works with investigators as they examine the impacts from machine gun fire on a police vehicle
Ms Rey said the men ‘spoke French perfectly’ and ‘claimed they were ‘Al Qaeda terrorists’.
Gunmen reportedly told another witness: ‘You say to the media, it was Al Qaeda in Yemen.’
A police source told the Liberation newspaper the gunmen were asking for the Mr Charbonnier by name, shouting: ‘Where is Charb? Where is Charb?’
The source added: ‘They killed him then sprayed everyone else.’
Mr Charbonnier was included in a 2013 Wanted Dead or Alive for Crimes Against Islam article published by Inspire, the terrorist propaganda magazine published by Al Qaeda.
The latest tweet published by the newspaper’s official Twitter account earlier in the day featured a cartoon of Abu Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, who wishes everyone ‘good health’.
Cartoonists Cabu, Tignous and Wolinski were all also reported dead.
Radio France chief executive Mathieu Gilet later announced on Twitter that a contributor, Bernard Maris, was another of the victims.
Meanwhile, there were reports of a car explosion outside a synagogue in Sarcelles, a commune in the northern suburbs of Paris, just hours after the Charlie Hebdo attack.
The blast, which happened at around 1.30pm GMT, is not thought to be connected to the massacre, according to Paris Metro which quoted the mayor of Sarcelles.
Florence Pouvil, a salesperson at Lunas France on Rue Nicolas Appert, opposite the Charlie Hebdo offices, told MailOnline: ‘I saw two people with big guns, like Kalashnikovs outside our office and then we heard firing. We were very confused.’
‘There were two guys who came out of the building and shot everywhere. We hid on the floor, we were terrified.
‘They came from the building opposite with big guns. It has a bunch of different companies inside. Some of our co-workers work there so we were frightened for them.
‘They weren’t just firing inside the Charlie Hebdo offices. They were firing in the street too.
‘We feared for our lives so we hid under our desks so they wouldn’t see us. Both men were dressed in black from head to toe and their faces were covered so I didn’t see them.
‘They were wearing military clothes, it wasn’t common clothing, like they were soldiers.’
According to the New York Times, one journalist at the Charlie Hebdo office, who asked not to be named, texted a friend after the shooting to say: ‘I’m alive. There is death all around me. Yes, I am there. The jihadists spared me.’
A man is carried into an ambulance. Ten people were reportedly in wounded, four critically, in the attack by suspected Al Qaeda militants
Life-threatening: An injured person is evacuated outside the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s office
Several people were left critically wounded when terrorists carried out a ‘military-style’ attack on the newspaper office
Shell-shocked: A woman cries outside the office. Witnesses reported hearing loud gunfire and at least one explosion during the attack
Trail of destruction: Police inspect the damage after a collision between police cars at the scene during a firefight with Islamic militants
ARE PARIS GUNMEN FROM YEMENI AL QAEDA CELL BEHIND PLANE BOMB PLOTS IN THE U.S. AND BRITAIN?
The gunmen being hunted by police over the Charlie Hebdo attack are believed to be from militant group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The group was established by Yusef al-Ayeri in 2003 in Saudi Arabia, but was forced to flee to Yemen after a series of attacks drove them back.
Yemen’s weak government allowed the group to rally and gain members, though they are only thought to have around 400 troops today.
While their attacks initially focused on targets in the Middle East, such as an attempted suicide attack on Saudi Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, they quickly spread to Western targets.
On Christmas Day in 2009, they were implicated in the underwear bomb plot after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was discovered on a Detroit-bound plane trying to detonate liquid explosives in his underpants.
The following year AQAP also took responsibility for a plot to blow up two devices hidden inside printer cartridges loaded on to cargo planes travelling from Yemen to the United States.
One device was discovered during a stopover at East Midlands Airport in Britain, while another was uncovered in Dubai.
According to Stanford University the group is currently lead by Yemen-born Nasser al-Wuhayshi, who is an apprentice of Osama Bin Laden and was imprisoned for a time in Yemen, but escaped in 2006 along with 22 others.
The group has a global jihadist agenda. Like ISIS, they aim to create a single Arab caliphate, covering Pakistan Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and the Levant – the area encompassing Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Israel.
If today’s attack is confirmed as coming from AQAP, it will be the first time the group has used lone-wolf style tactics, in which gunmen act alone or in small groups to attack targets.
Officers were involved in a gunfight with the men, who escaped in a hijacked car and sped away from the office towards east Paris
On red alert: After the first shots rang out, it is thought that three policemen on bicycles were the first to respond to the atrocity
Benoit Bringer, a journalist with Agence Premiere Ligne, told the iTele network he saw several masked men armed with machine guns
Carnage: A police official, Luc Poignant, said he was aware of one journalist dead and several injured, including three police officers
Terror: In footage filmed from a rooftop, people are seen running for cover as the gunmen rampage through the building
A picture posted on Twitter appearing to show people taking refuge on the roof of the Charlie Hebdo office
Targeted: A picture posted on Twitter reportedly showing bullets in one of the windows of the Charlie Hebdo offices
Another witness, Gilles Boulanger, who works in the same building, told Itele: ‘A neighbour called to warn me that there were armed men in the building and that we had to shut all the doors.
‘And several minutes later, there were several shots heard in the building from automatic weapons firing in all directions. So then we looked out of the window and saw the shooting was on Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, with the police. It was really upsetting. You’d think it was a war zone.’
French journalist, Stefan De Vries, told Sky News: ‘There was protection at the door but they killed the police officers, they executed them and they started shooting in the offices.’
An unnamed eyewitness told the BBC World Service: ‘When I arrived at the scene it was quite disturbing as you can imagine. There were several corpses on the floor.
‘We saw the number of casualties was very high, so we just tried to help as we could – there were a lot of people down on the floor and there was blood everywhere.
‘I’m very traumatised by this attack and everything and now we’re in psychological hell where we’re being attended to by professionals.’
Benoit Bringer, a journalist at the scene who works next door, took refuge on the roof of the building, which is in the 11th arrondissement of Paris.
He said: ‘There were very many people in the building. We evacuated via the roof just next to the office. After around ten minutes we saw two heavily armed, masked men in the street’.
Another witness said: ‘There was a loud gunfire and at least one explosion. When police arrived there was a mass shoot-out. The men got away by car, stealing a car.’
A police official, Luc Poignant, said: ‘It’s carnage.’
After the shooting, hundreds of comments were posted on the Charlie Hebdo Twitter page, with one user, David Rault, writing: ‘A sad day for freedom of expression.’
Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief Gerard Biard escaped the massacre because he was in London.
He told France Inter: ‘I am shocked that people can have attacked a newspaper in France, a secular republic. I don’t understand it.
‘I don’t understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons. A newspaper is not a weapon of war.’
France reinforced security at houses of worship, stores, media offices and transport after masked gunmen stormed the Charlie Hebdo offices
Mr Biard said he did not believe the attack was linked to the newspaper’s latest front page, which featured novelist Michel Houellebecq, who has previously sparked controversy with comments about Islam.
And he said the newspaper had not received threats of violence: ‘Not to my knowledge, and I don’t think anyone had received them as individuals, because they would have talked about it. There was no particular tension at the moment.’
A visibly shocked French President François Hollande, speaking live near the scene of the shooting, said: ‘France is today in shock, in front of a terrorist attack.
‘This newspaper was threatened several rimes in the past and we need to show we are a united country.
‘We have to be firm, and we have to be stand strong with the international community in the coming days and weeks.
‘We are at a very difficult moment following several terrorist attacks. We are threated because we are a country of freedom
‘We will punish the attackers. We will look for the people responsible.’
Defiant: Stephane Charbonnier, known by his pen name Charb, was editor of Charlie Hebdo, and gunned down by men with assault weapons
Mr Charbonnier was named as one of nine men the extreme Islamist group were targetting (pictured centre right). Their photographs were printed alongside the caption ‘a bullet a day keeps the infidel away’
Tragic: Cartoonist Georges Wolinski was named by officials as one of those shot dead at the offices of Charlie Hebdo
Lead cartoonist Jean ‘Cabu’ Cabut (left) was among the 12 massacred by terrorists in Paris today, along with Bernard ‘Tignous’ Verlhac (right)
Radio France chief executive Mathieu Gilet announced on Twitter that a contributor, Bernard Maris (above right) was another of the victims
The Queen today sent her ‘sincere condolences to the families of those who have been killed’ in the attack.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron described the murders as ‘sickening’.
He added: ‘We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press.’
The British Foreign Office immediately updated is advice for travellers heading to Pairs, warning: ‘There is a high threat from terrorism.’
It added: ‘If you’re in Paris or the Ile de France area take extra care and follow advice of French authorities.’
Luce Lapin and Laurent Leger, who have both worked at Charlie Hebdo, were using Twitter hours before the attack, with the most recent tweet posted by Lapin praising cartoonist Cabu.
It read: ‘Cabu, a great man! And honest, he doesn’t eat foie gras.’
While Leger’s made a political point about taxes.
It said: ‘Macron [French ministry of economy] wants more billionaires in France, the same that use tricks for not paying ISF [solidarity tax on wealth].’
Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the Union of French mosques, condemned the ‘hateful act,’ and urged Muslims and Christians ‘to intensify their actions to give more strength to this dialogue to make a united front against extremism’.
Location: Officers were involved in a gunfight with the men, who escaped in a hijacked car and sped away from the office towards east Paris
‘100 LASHES IF YOU DON’T DIE OF LAUGHTER’: HOW CHARLIE HEBDO HAS BECOME A BYWORD FOR ANTI-ISLAMISM
Charlie Hebdo has become a byword for offensive statements in France after taking several highly provocative swipes at Islam.
The newspaper once named Prophet Mohammed as its guest editor, published cartoons of the holy figure in the nude, and once renamed itself Sharia Hebdo with the cover slogan ‘100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter’.
The controversy began in 2006 when the publication reprinted now-infamous cartoons of Prophet Mohammed by Danish artist Kurt Westergaard.
When the images originally appeared they lead to days of protests across the Middle East and in Western cities. The decision to reprint the images landed the then-editor in court under anti-terror laws, though he was later acquitted.
The Hebdo offices were burned to the ground in 2011 when attackers used Molotov cocktails to start a blaze early in the morning of November 2.
There was nobody in the building at the time, and the target was instead thought to be the newspaper’s computer system, which was completely destroyed.
Riot police were forced to stand guard outside the building for days following the attack, as the editors took a defiant stance, choosing to reprint the cartoon images multiple times.
In 2012 they again printed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed as a deliberately provocative gesture while violent protests were taking place across the Middle East.
The following year the newspaper’s office again had to be surrounded by riot officers after they published a cartoon booklet depicting the Prohpet naked as a baby and being pushed in a wheelchair.
On the final page of the booklet there was a note from the editor, Stephane Charbonnier, saying the images were ‘halal’ because Muslims had worked on them, and that they were factually accurate as they had been derived from descriptions in the Koran.
The satirical publication, widely seen as France’s answer to Private Eye, prides itself on a mixture of tongue-in-cheek reporting and investigative journalism.
Hebdo’s current office building has no notices on the door to prevent a repeat of the attacks that have occurred in the past.
In an interview with De Volkskrant in January 2013, Mr Charbonnier revealed he had been placed under constant police protection for four months after one of the cartoon issues was published.
He shrugged off criticism that he was only publishing the images to gain notoriety for Hebdo, and insisted that he was instead defending the right to free speech.
Mr Charbonnier pointed out that the newspaper had poked fun at feminism, nuclear energy and homeland security, but the Islam issues always attracted the most publicity.
The offices of the same newspaper were burnt down in a petrol attack in 2011 after running a magazine cover of the Prophet Mohammed as a cartoon character.
At the time, the editor-in-chief, Stephane Charbonnier, said Islam could not be excluded from freedom of the press.
He said: ‘If we can poke fun at everything in France, if we can talk about anything in France apart from Islam or the consequences of Islamism, that is annoying.’
Mr Charbonnier, also known as Charb, said he did not see the attack on the newspaper as the work of French Muslims, but of what he called ‘idiot extremists’.
‘We have to be stand strong with the international community’: A visibly shocked French President François Hollande arrives at the scene, where he promised to bring those responsible to justice
The cover showed Mohammed saying: ‘100 lashes if you are not dying of laughter’.
This week’s Charlie Hebdo also featured the author Houellebecq, whose new novel imagines Muslims taking over the French government in 2022.
Inside, there was an editorial, attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, and more cartoons – one showing the Prophet with a clown’s red nose.
Depiction of the Prophet is strictly prohibited in Islam, but the newspaper denied it was trying to be provocative.
A firebomb attack gutted the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in November 2011 after it put an image of the Prophet Mohammed on its cover.
HOW ATTACK ON CHARLIE HEBDO HQ UNFOLDED
10.28am – The satirical magazine updates its Twitter page with a cartoon of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In it, he wishes everyone ‘good health’.
10.57am – The AFP news agency reports shots have been fired at the French weekly magazine, on Boulevard Richard Lenoir.
11.17am – Eyewitness accounts emerge showing the immediate aftermath of the scene.
11.22am – AFP confirms the first death as a result of the shooting. Three minutes later it confirms the death toll has risen to 10.
11.31am – President Francois Hollande is en-route to visit the magazine’s offices shortly, officials say
11.36am – The death toll is increased to 11 and then to 12.
11.46am – Paris is put on maximum alert following the attacks.
11.49am – Prime Minister David Cameron condemns the attack: ‘The murders in Paris are sickening. We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press.’
11.54am – Mr Hollande, in an address near the scene of the massacre, says the shooting was ‘undoubtedly a terrorist attack’. He adds: ‘We fight threats and we will punish the attackers.’
11.59am – The first tweet is posted containing the hashtag £JeSuisCharlie in solidarity with the victims, the magazine and its supporters.
12.26pm – French officials confirm gunmen who carried out the attack are still at large. At least two criminals are believed to be involved.
12.38pm – The White House condemns Paris attack in the ‘strongest possible terms’.
1.30pm – AFP says dead include three cartoonists and editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier, known as Charb.
2.13pm – French internal minister Bernard Cazeneuve says ‘three criminals’ were involved in the attack. They remain at large.