TIME France

How France’s Mania for Low-Cost Reality TV May Have Led to Fatal Helicopter Crash

A man stands near the smoking remains of a helicopter that crashed with another near Villa Castelli in the La Rioja province of Argentina, March 9, 2015.
Gabriel Gonzalez—AP A man stands near the smoking remains of a helicopter that crashed with another near Villa Castelli in the La Rioja province of Argentina, March 9, 2015.

Death of 10 in Argentine helicopter crash raises questions about safety culture

The 10 people who were killed in a helicopter crash on Monday while filming a French reality TV show in Argentina were not the first people to die in a production by Adventure Line Productions (ALP).

Two years ago, Gérald Babin, 25, died of a heart attack in Cambodia during a shoot for Koh-Lanta, an ALP adventure show, in which participants have to survive on an uninhabited island by competing for food through demanding physical challenges. Six days after Babin’s death, the show’s French location doctor Thierry Costa killed himself, leaving a note saying that media reports suggesting he might have saved Babin’s life had driven him to suicide.

The circumstances in which two Argentinian pilots, five French production staff and three French sporting heroes died in a two-helicopter crash 720 miles south of Buenos Aires are quite different but have prompted concerns about reality TV shows and the financial culture of the media companies that make them. As the French absorbed the details of the tragedy, some claimed that production companies like ALP had set up the potential for errors after years of saving on safety and labor expenses, in favor of offering ever-more risky adventures for TV audiences.

Paris lawyer Jérémie Assous told the French news site Le Point on Tuesday that French courts had found ALP guilty of 300 counts of “breaches of labor law and safety obligations.” Assous has successfully sued ALP in recent years on behalf of hundreds of reality-show participants, claiming that they were obliged to work 20-hour days, the production company had confiscated their passports and telephones while filming in remote locations, and shut off their Internet access. Yet despite the fact that French judges had repeatedly fined the company, “the amount of fines, even if it rises steadily to tens of thousands of euros, is not commensurate with the millions saved by not complying with the law,” Assous said.

Indeed, the profits are huge in reality TV and help broadcast networks invest in their nonlucrative news divisions. French channel TF1 bought the broadcast rights to Koh-Lanta for about €12 million ($13 million), and earns about €25 million ($27 million) a year in advertising revenue, according to Le Point.

The show being filmed in Argentina was Dropped, a French adaptation of a Swedish reality show that was due to launch this year on TF1. Much like the U.S. reality show Survivor, the series drops teams of adventurers — in this case sporting celebrities — blindfolded into a remote area, leaving them to find their way back to civilization without the help of GPS or telephones. “Two teams are dropped into the middle of nowhere,” says the promotional video on YouTube, over suspenseful music. “No food. No map. No help.”

And also, perhaps, too little safety. On Tuesday, an ALP staff member told Le Point that offering top-class safety provisions for the show’s participants would increase the costs of production about threefold. “If we scrupulously respect work rights, shooting costs would explode,” said the employee. “Safety is not a major issue for the production company.”

Among those killed on Monday were swimmer Camille Muffat, 25, who won both a gold and a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics in London; boxer Alexis Vastine, 28, who won the light-welterweight bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008; and the sailor Florence Arthaud, 57, who had gained fame in her early 30s as the first woman ever to win the solo trans-Atlantic race called the Route du Rhum. “Between incredulity and horror,” said the front page of Tuesday evening’s Le Monde newspaper. “French sport is in mourning.”

President François Hollande told reporters that the accident was “a cause of immense sadness.” One of the surviving Dropped participants, Sylvain Wiltord, a former soccer player for London’s Arsenal club, tweeted, “I am sad for my friends, I’m shaking, I’m horrified, I don’t have the words, I don’t want to say anything.” And William Forgues, the boyfriend of the dead swimmer Muffat, told the news site Le Parisien, “She was very happy and it was 100% her choice to be there. She loved that kind of program.”

TIME isis

How ISIS Sprung Up in Libya

An armed motorcade belonging to members of Derna's Islamic Youth Council, seen in Derna, eastern Libya on Oct. 3, 2014.
Reuters An armed motorcade belonging to members of Derna's Islamic Youth Council, seen in Derna, eastern Libya on Oct. 3, 2014.

"We are in a state of 'my enemy's enemy' is my friend.' So that will allow these groups to thrive"

The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) flourished in the vacuum created by the civil war in Syria. More recently it has found a similarly fertile environment in Libya.

The elected government in Tripoli collapsed last August after a coalition of militias called Libya Dawn drove it out of the capital and took control. The deposed government fled to Tobruk, 800 miles to the east, close to the Egyptian border. The rival governments in Tobruk and Tripoli, supported by regional militias, have fought a civil war ever since.

Many veterans of Libya’s first civil war against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi travelled on to join the uprising against Bashar Assad in Syria in 2011. An estimated 1,000 and 3,000 Libyans fought with a variety of rebel groups, but many have since joined ISIS.

Last year, a group of around 300 Libyan ISIS veterans returned to Derna on the country’s Mediterranean coast as the civil war continued. In October, ISIS took over most of the city and declared its allegiance to the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They were joined in their pledge by Ansar al-Sharia, the extremist group that killed U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens on September 11, 2012.

READ MORE: Inside ISIS, a TIME Special Report

On Feb. 15, ISIS released a video of its Libyan fighters beheading 21 Egyptian Christians who were kidnapped while working in Libya. The video showed the men’s blood coloring the waves of Mediterranean Sea red while the lead executioner said: “We will conquer Rome, by the will of Allah.”

Libya’s proximity to Europe is one of the major attractions for ISIS, though hardly the only one. The country has Africa’s biggest proven oil reserves, with an estimated 48 billion barrels, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration—something sure to entice ISIS, which has been selling oil from its conquered territory in Iraq and Syria. And Libya also has giant stockpiles of weapons left over from the rule of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was one of the world’s major arms buyers in his final years in power. Much of that weaponry—including surface-to-air missiles—has been smuggled to Mali, Chad and Niger and seized by the militias who control large areas of Libya.

Bassam Ghellal, the Libyan managing director of Whispering Bell, a Dubai-based security risk consultancy, believes that for ISIS, controlling the Libyan oil industry is far more difficult than in Syria. “Even if they took it [oil facilities] over it will be quite difficult for them. You would have to take over a very large piece of land, fields, pipes, and control the flow of oil.” Libyan oil production, which accounts for about 95% of the country’s economy has fallen from 1.6 million barrels a day before the 2011 to about 300,000 barrels a day. Much of the drop has been caused by the civil war, not because of ISIS, which has only carried out minor attacks on oil facilities. As for ISIS fighters, Ghellal says, “right now they appear and disappear and have not become a direct threat ” to oil production.

Ghellal says that ISIS’s tactics in Libya are very different from those in Iraq, as demonstrated by the theatrical but brutal beheading video. “It is a shock and awe tactic, proving their presence and showing they are a threat,” he says. “It’s a message to the West, rather than building revenue and expanding in the country. Their modus operandi is very different.”

As long as there is civil war in Libya, ISIS will be able to maintain a foothold in the country. Ghellal believes that unless talks—so far floundering—between Libya Dawn and the elected government succeed, tackling ISIS’s growth in Libya will be very difficult, for example through foreign intervention. “There are two options for Libya, and I don’t believe there is a third one: To have two opposing governments work together. Right now, we are in a state of ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend.’ So that will allow these groups to thrive.”

TIME France

French Jews Rocked by 2 New Anti-Semitic Incidents

France Terrorism
Lionel Cironneau—AP Soldiers stand guard after an attacker with a knife hidden in his bag attacked three soldiers on an antiterrorism patrol in front of a Jewish community center in Nice, France, on Feb. 3, 2015

A man attacked guards at a Jewish school and an agency appealed for workers who are not Jewish

Less than a month after the Paris attacks that left 17 dead, two incidents this week have deepened anxieties among French Jews about rising anti-Semitism in France.

First on Monday, a graphic-design studio in Paris posted an ad on a job-search website, calling for applicants who were “if possible not Jewish.” Then on Tuesday, a man wielding an 8-in. knife lunged at a group of soldiers guarding the Jewish Community Center in the southern French city of Nice, wounding at least two of them.

While the incidents were unconnected, they have heightened a sense of vulnerability among France’s 500,000 or so Jews. They come at a sensitive time, as the community tries to comprehend last month’s hostage siege at a kosher supermarket in Paris, in which a gunman claiming allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria shot dead four French Jews. “There are a few thousand people with prejudices against Jews,” says Roger Cukierman, president of the French Jewish representative council, or CRIF. “We are very worried.”

The job announcement from a company called NSL Studio appeared on a website for graphic designers, and listed an eight-point set of preferences for its applicants, including those familiar to most job seekers, like being highly motivated and well organized. The third point, however, said simply “si possible pas juif,” — if possible not Jewish — with no explanation. Stunned at the ad, one graphic designer took a screenshot of it on her mobile phone and posted it to her Facebook site, from where it quickly spread widely online. “I had to reread the ad two or three times to see that it was not a joke,” the graphic designer, named only as Anne-Sophie, told the French news site LesInrocks.com.

NSL Studio removed the ad shortly after and posted an apology on the company’s website on Tuesday, saying it had filed an official complaint with prosecutors, in an effort “to determine who was responsible for the [advertisement’s] publication.” The job-search website, meanwhile, posted a similar message on its homepage, condemning the ad and saying that its staff had deleted it as soon as they became aware of it.

Still, the attempts to smooth over the outrage appeared hollow to some. LeInrocks.com said that in a call to NSL Studio while the job ad was still online, a staff member told its reporters that the phrase “if possible not Jewish” had been included because of the company’s erratic work schedules. “So we wanted someone who does not have these cultural or religious concerns,” the news site quoted the company as saying.

Shortly after, NSL Studio tweeted that a hacker had changed the ad without its knowledge. To some, it sounded unconvincing. “I imagine that the person who let this ad through without checking did not know that this was illegal,” says Dominique Sopo, president of the antiracism organization SOS Racisme. The group filed a separate complaint with prosecutors on Tuesday, claiming racial discrimination, a crime under French law. “It is important to remind people that this is illegal,” says Sop.

In the eyes of French Jews, the attack in Nice appeared far more serious than the uproar over the job ad. The potential for violence has made the entire issue of French Jews’ security an urgent subject of debate. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told French Jews that Israel would welcome them “with open arms” as immigrants. And in an emotional address to Jewish leaders last week, French President François Hollande told them, “Your place is here.”

On Tuesday afternoon the man pulled out a knife outside Nice’s Jewish center, where a group of soldiers stood guard at the door. In the wake of last month’s attack on the kosher supermarket, French officials deployed about 20,000 soldiers to guard Jewish stores and schools across the country. The attacker struck one of the military guards on the chin, then struck another one on the forearm, and a third on the cheek, according to the Associated Press.

He then fled on foot and was caught by police. Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi said on television the man was carrying an identity card with the name Moussa Coulibaly. That is the same family name — common in Mali — as Amedy Coulibaly, who attacked the supermarket on Jan. 9.

While Tuesday’s attack was not fatal, it nonetheless heightened the sense of nervousness among France’s Jewish leaders, who have said in recent months that the country faces a growing threat from homegrown jihadists, like those who mounted the attacks on the Brussels Jewish Center last year, and on a Jewish nursery school in Toulouse in 2012. “All the actors are French-born citizens who went through the public schools,” says Cukierman. Combating the threat, he says, will require “many things. We need education, we need police, we need security, we need justice.”

Read next: It’s Time to Stop Ignoring the New Wave of Anti-Semitism

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME europe

European Police Face Being Outgunned by Jihadists With Assault Rifles

Firearms seized from a gang of arms smugglers displayed at Federal Police headquarters in Brussels in 2011.
Thierry Roge—Reuters Firearms seized from a gang of arms smugglers displayed at federal police headquarters in Brussels in 2011

Police pistols are no match for assault rifles like those carried by the Paris gunmen

When Chérif and Saïd Kouachi attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, killing 12 people, they were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and could easily outgun the police officers who tried to apprehend them with pistols. Their associate, Amedy Coulibaly, had an even greater collection of military-grade weapons.

The size of the trio’s armory has prompted an urgent inquiry into the scale of gun smuggling in Europe, where weapons are smuggled into the European Union from the countries of former Yugoslavia, Albania and elsewhere and then moved without any further border checks to where they will get the best price. Most of the smuggling is carried out by criminal gangs but many jihadists such as Coulibaly are well connected with criminal networks.

Despite the Paris attacks, it seems the weapons are still flowing freely through Europe. Brian Donald, chief of staff for Europol, which coordinates cross-border actions among police forces in the E.U.’s 28 countries, says there have been two “large seizures” of assault weapons in Europe during the past two weeks, but would not give details about where they were, since the investigations were still ongoing. In all, he says police had seized “several vanloads of 30 or 40 weapons at a time,” during the past few weeks, including “AK-47s, Scorpions, handguns and semiautomatic rifles.”

The Kouachis had rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. On Jan. 8, Coulibaly fatally shot a policewoman with a Scorpion submachine gun in the Paris suburb of Montrouge. The day after that, he used a 7.62-mm Tokarev rifle, a Soviet-designed weapon, to kill five hostages in a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris. His posthumous video also showed him with a Kalashnikov AK-47. Earlier this month, a Belgian newspaper reported that Coulibaly had bought most of the weapons from a Belgian criminal for €5,000 (about $5,647). Coulibaly, a French-born Muslim with Malian parents, made the deal near the Brussels Midi train station, a major railway hub that connects Western Europe’s biggest cities, after taking out a €6,000 loan from the French financial services firm Cofidis using false information about his income, which went unchecked.

But although the police quickly traced the weapons source in the Paris attacks, stopping criminals and other jihadist cells in Europe from acquiring assault weapons for further attacks might not be so easy, according to police officials.

Many of the weapons circulating in Europe hail from southeastern Europe, where big military arsenals were left abandoned during the collapse of Yugoslavia and the Balkan wars of the 1990s. At least a million other weapons are believed to have been looted during an outbreak of anarchy in Albania in 1997. “There are stockpiles in the Balkans of 2 [million] to 3 million [weapons] left over from the 1990s, available for recycling,” says Donald.

French police believe rifles are on sale in French cities for between €1,000 and €1,500. Earlier this month, Philippe Capon, head of the French police union UNSA, told Bloomberg News, “The French black market for weapons has been inundated with eastern European war artillery and arms.” A French police source told TIME that the weapons from the Charlie Hebdo attack came from the Balkans.

That is not the only source of weaponry. Donald says he fears that the continent might be facing a fresh influx of weapons from North Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring revolts. In August, 2011, Libyan rebels looted large quantities of mortars, tank shells and other munitions when Moammar Gaddafi’s regime collapsed. Although most of those weapons are believed to have filtered across North and West Africa, some could also have made their way to Europe.

The arms traffickers have flourished in the absence of well-financed antiweapons units in Europe, where law enforcement has for years tended to plow money into stopping drug-dealing and other crimes. “We don’t fully understand the scale of the problem because we have not had specialized units,” says Donald, referring to law-enforcement agencies in different E.U. countries. “It is a question of priorities. Any police officer will tell you it [resources] is a constant struggle.”

The trade in illegal weapons can earn enormous profits for organized criminal gangs — enough to make the risk of capture worthwhile. Donald says recent investigations have found arms traffickers investing about €30,000 in a shipment of Balkan-era weapons, refurbishing them in their garages, then selling them for them for about 10 times the price. “That’s a huge mark-up,” he says.

As Europe struggles to crack down on illegal weapons, some police recruits face a new training exercise: Go buy a Kalashnikov rifle. Donald says that in “a city in Europe,” which he would not name, “very young officers with no training or experience” were recently told to go find an assault weapon on the streets from an illegal arms dealer. “One came back two hours later with an AK-47,” Donald says. “He bought it for €1,000.”

TIME France

French Comedian Held on Suspicion of Sympathy for Gunman Who Killed 5

File photo of French comedian Dieudonne attends a news conference at the "Theatre de la Main d'or" in Paris
Gonzalo Fuentes—Reuters Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala during a press conference in Paris in 2014.

Dieudonné M'bala M'bala was arrested for "defending terrorism"

French police on Wednesday arrested the country’s most incendiary comedian, Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, for having posted a message on Facebook last week which appeared to show sympathy for the man who killed four Jews in a kosher supermarket in Paris last week.

“Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly,” wrote Dieudonné in a reference to the gunman Amedy Coulibaly who also fatally shot a policewoman last Thursday.

MORE Dieudonné M’bala M’bala has become a star by targeting France’s Jews

The arrest of the comedian was “totally exaggerated and disportionate” according to his lawyer Jacques Verdier. He told TIME on Wednesday that his client remained in custody nine hours after his arrest. Verdier said he thought the government had “lost its composure.”

The arrest is already being seen as a sign of double standards in France, coming three days after President François Hollande attended a march through the streets of Paris to proclaim freedom of speech. The paroxysm of violence in Paris began on January 7, when Said and Cherif Kouachi massacred eight journalists at the satirical paper Charlie Hebdo and four others. The Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed on Wednesday it had planned and ordered the attack on the publication.

On Wednesday, Dieudonné was being investigated for “defending terrorism.” His arrest came a day after Prime Minister Manuel Valls — who last year ordered theaters to cancel Dieudonné’s show — made an impassioned speech to parliament about “these preachers of hatred,” without mentioning the comedian by name. The comedian’s in-your-face act, with its jokes about the Holocaust, has made Dieudonné a household name in France, and tickets to his shows sell out weeks in advance. In a long interview with TIME last year, Dieudonné said, “there is some paranoia among Jews. If I have deeply hurt anyone, I apologize.”

Dieudonné, who comes from a Cameroonian immigrant family, has built his fame around the ability to push buttons and cause offence. That, says, Verdier, is similar to Charlie Hebdo, whose humor regularly insults people. “Dieudonné is also controversial, he is also against religion,” he says. The comedian has irked the government for years, and instilled deep anxieties in French Jews, who see his brand of humor as giving voice to rising anti-Semitism in the country.

While the Charlie Hebdo attack brought huge global sympathy, it has also provoked a strong debate in France about the limits of free speech, something that does not have blanket legal protection as it does in the U.S.. Judges can deem remarks, for example, to further terrorism or racial violence, and denying the Holocaust is banned under law. French officials have ordered 54 investigations into hate speech since the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Read next: Charlie Hebdo Attack Highlights the Challenge of the U.S.-Yemen Relationship

TIME France

New Charlie Hebdo Mocks, Commemorates and Sells Out

People wait outside a newsagents in Paris on Jan. 14, 2015 as the latest edition of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo goes on sale.
Martin Bureau—AFP/Getty Images People wait outside a newsagents in Paris on Jan. 14, 2015 as the latest edition of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo goes on sale.

Crowds queue in the darkness as newspaper prints 5 million copies

They are still deeply shaken and raw with grief. Their friends and colleagues are dead, and their offices are a blood-spattered crime scene with shattered windows. But on Wednesday, the journalists who survived last week’s Charlie Hebdo massacre pulled off what most print publications can only dream of: A runway hit issue that was sold out in hours and is expected to sell millions.

Exactly a week after gunmen stormed the offices of the satirical weekly, killing eight journalists and four others, people lined up for hours outside newsstands across France in the pre-dawn darkness, waiting to buy what is sure to be a collector’s item.

“I woke up at three o’clock this morning,” one young man told a French television channel outside a newsstand, a copy finally in his hands. “I’m happy, but at the same time I am really sad.” After distributors reported mid-morning that all French outlets had sold out, the editors opted to print an additional two million copies, bringing the total print run to five million. Until last week’s terror attacks, Charlie Hebdo distributed around 60,000 copies a week.

On eBay, copies of the newspaper were on sale for as much as $560.

The issue hit newsstands just as the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released a YouTube video claiming responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack and saying it was “as vengeance for the Messenger of God,” apparently refering to cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, which Charlie Hebdo has published in the past.

But if surviving journalists are cowed by the threats, their new issue on Wednesday did not show it. On the cover is the Prophet Muhammad with a tear rolling down his left cheek, holding a “Je Suis Charlie” sign under the words: “All is Forgiven.” The editors explained that the cover line was an expression of forgiveness from the paper’s staff toward their attackers. Editor-in-chief Gérard Biard made their intent clear on a French radio program saying: It is we who forgive, not Muhammad,” referring to the speculation by some that the cover was a message about the paper being forgiven for publishing an image of the Prophet, an act that many Islamic leaders deem sacrilegious. In an interview with The Guardian, Charlie columnist Zineb El Rhazoui elaborated on the mood inside the publication: We feel that we have to forgive what happened. I think those who have been killed, if they would have been able to have a coffee today with the terrorists and just talk to ask them why have they done this …”

But it became clear early Wednesday morning that the issue was not being received well by Islamic groups. The Islamic website Tabnak wrote that “Charlie Hebdo has once again insulted the Prophet,” according to the French news agency AFP, and Egypt’s Islamic organization Dar al-Ifa called the new cartoon “unjustifiably provocative,” and warned that it would spark “a new wave of anger.”

In a highly emotional press conference on Tuesday, the cartoonist Renald Luzier, known as Luz, 43, told reporters he had struggled through his trauma to create a cover drawing worthy of his dead colleagues; by chance, he had missed last Wednesday’s attack, having slept in late on his birthday. At times breaking down in tears, he said, “I wrote ‘all is forgiven’ and then I cried. We had our cover. We finally had our damn cover.”

Still, this week’s Charlie Hebdo, produced from a makeshift office within the Liberation newspaper, has little of the raw lampooning for which the satirical publication is famous. Instead, the 16-page issue seems like a tragic homage to slain friends, many of whose irreverant drawings are inside. There is also much commentary about the charged events of recent days, and even a touch of humor. The paper’s editor-in-chief Gerard Biard writes in an editorial about their own response to the huge outpouring of sympathy across the world. “What made us laugh the most is that the bells of Notre-Dame [Paris’s cathedral] rang in our honor,” he writes, a reference to the paper’s strong attacks on religion, including Catholicism. More seriously, he pleads for the French to fight against discrimination against Muslims. “The social situation of people of Muslim origin in France is profoundly unjust,” he writes.

Some of the cartoons in this week’s issue now seem tragically on point, given last week’s attacks. One reprinted cartoon, by the artist Jean Cabut, who was killed in last week’s attack, takes a dig at the French government’s inability to monitor terrorists within the country — a criticism that is being loudly voiced in regard to the three men who terrorized Paris last week. The drawing shows a government unemployment office with armed men looking for work, their Kalashnikovs over their shoulders, while the woman at the desk asks if they would like jobs as security guards at a supermarket.

The back page is a collection of cartoons from those who’ve survived, showing impressive humor under grim circumstances. One cartoon is titled “new friends,” and shows an imam and the Pope flanked by a priest from the Orthodox church and a Jewish man in a skullcap. And then there is a Grim Reaper himself, laughing over an issue of Charlie Hebdo and saying, “I’m subscribing.”

The two-page center spread is a cartoon account of Sunday’s march, when more than a million people were on Paris’s streets. And one cartoon covers Boko Haram’s massacre this month in northern Nigeria, which killed up to 2,000 people, with one gunman saying to another, “2,000 subscribers Charlie won’t have.”

Despite having barely recovered from their traumatic ordeal last week, there was serious reporting too, including by Charlie Hebdo‘s investigative reporter Laurent Leger, who examined how French officials had failed to stop attacks by three known jihadists, in part, he reports, because different branches of French intelligence worked separately.

With their colleagues not yet buried, Charlie Hebdo‘s survivors are now left to face possible new wrath for this week’s cover — before again wondering how to survive as a tiny satirical weekly, with its staff gutted. “There will be a future,” Biard told reporters on Tuesday. “We do not know what it will be.”

Read next: Yemen’s al-Qaeda Claim Responsibility for Charlie Hebdo Attack

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TIME France

Mentor of Charlie Hebdo Gunman Says He Was Obsessed With Violence

The pair last spoke two months ago to discuss previous attacks

One of the two brothers who mounted the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris last Wednesday, killing 12 people, was obsessed with violence and just two months ago debated the issue of murdering people in the name of Islam with his spiritual guide.

That revelation came on Tuesday morning in a French television interview with the man who 10 years ago turned Chérif Kouachi from a 22-year-old pot-smoking wannabe rap star, into a devout Muslim bent on fighting U.S. troops in Iraq. Kouachi, who was killed by police with his elder brother Saïd, became more radical than his mentor. “With him it always came back to the same conversation, everything revolved around combat,” said Farid Benyettou, 32, who is now a trainee nurse at a Paris hospital. “That is the only thing that interested him. So our discussions were around that subject.”

The interview was aired as four Jewish victims of Kouachi associate Amedy Coulibaly were buried in Jerusalem and Bulgarian police said they had arrested a man associated with the Kouachi brothers. Fritz-Joly Joachin, 29, was arrested under two European arrest warrants, one citing his alleged links to a terrorist organization, and a second for allegedly kidnapping his 3-year-old son and smuggling him out of the country, said Darina Slavova, regional prosecutor of the southern province of Haskovo on local television.

In 2004, Benyettou was the spiritual leader to a group of Muslim youth in Paris’s northeastern 19th district, which has a high concentration of immigrant families from North and West Africa. Benyettou’s followers were French-born Muslims of immigrant parents, and several of them then traveled to Iraq to fight with al-Qaeda. The youth came to be known as the Buttes-Chaumont group, after the local park where they exercised in order to train for combat. In a high-profile trial in Paris in 2008, Benyettou was convicted of recruiting Parisian youth to fight in Iraq, while several of his acolytes received jail terms for furthering terrorism. Chérif spent 18 months in jail and Benyettou served three years, emerging from prison in 2011 claiming to be a reformed man.

Speaking to French news channel iTele over coffee in a Paris café in a beige sweater, his face hidden from the camera, Benyettou said he had last seen Chérif two months ago. At that point, he tried to persuade him that there were limits to jihad — a discussion he suggested was a regular point of argument between them.

He said that two months ago, Chérif was keen to discuss Mohamed Merah, a 23-year-old French-born Muslim of Algerian parents — just like Chérif and Benyettou — who went on a shooting spree in the southern city of Toulouse in 2012, killing three children at a Jewish school, and four others. “We came back to the Merah affair,” Benyettou says. “I said I was against what happened…. I was against the assassination of a child… He seemed to have accepted the criticism, accepted things he had not accepted previously.” Ultimately, he said, Chérif was “guided by ignorance.”

Benyettou used his interview also as a defense of himself, saying he believed that killing civilians was “terrorism.” French police questioned him after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, while the Kouachi brothers were still on the run — police cornered and killed them last Friday — but let him go after several hours.

Still, Benyettou’s revelations again raise the question of how many people realized that Chérif Kouachi and his older brother Saïd might be plotting an attack, and why they did not inform French police.

Neighbors of the Kouachis in the Paris suburb of Gennevilliers even broke into their apartment, because they were so concerned that they might be plotting an attack, since they heard incessant Koranic chanting through the walls. There, they told a reporter, they found a “cache of arms.” The brothers returned while they were still inside, and threatened to harm them if they went to the police. They did not — and sometime later, the brothers mounted their attack on Charlie Hebdo.

Read next: Charlie Hebdo Afflicted Us With Free-Speech Hindsight

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TIME France

French Intelligence Warns That There Might Be Worse Attacks to Come

French troops patrol around the Eiffel Tower on Jan. 12, 2015 in Paris.
Jeff J Mitchell—Getty Images French troops patrol around the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Jan. 12, 2015

In the aftermath of the Paris killings which left 17 dead, officials fear more sophisticated attacks

The French intelligence community believes that last week’s attacks in Paris which left 17 people dead could be a prelude to even more lethal attacks, a former counterterrorism official has warned.

Yves Trotignon, a former top counterterrorism official in DGSE, France’s equivalent to the CIA, told TIME on Monday, “There is a strong feeling that this is not over.” Trotignon, now a private terrorism consultant, said he was in close contact with French intelligence officials investigating last week’s attacks. He said most believe that although the instigators of last week’s attacks might all now be dead, “there is a strong feeling that maybe something more dangerous is ahead.”

French police said Monday that up to six members of the terrorist cell believed to be responsible for last Wednesday’s attacks may still be at large, the Associated Press reports. One was reportedly spotted driving a car registered to the widow of one of the attackers.

On Sunday more than a million people marched the streets of Paris in a show of defiance against terrorism after the French seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief on Friday when police killed all three armed jihadists, believing that the turmoil was finally over.

The sense that a larger-scale threat is in the works, perhaps elsewhere in Europe, echoes a warning from British intelligence. Last Thursday — one day after Saïd and Chérif Kouachi stormed the Charlie Hebdo newspaper office and killed 12 people — the head of Britain’s MI5 security agency, Andrew Parker, told defense and intelligence experts in London that British intelligence officers believed that terrorist groups were crafting “complex and ambitious plots” against Western targets, and said “a group of core al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria is planning mass-casualty attacks against the West.”

On Friday, police killed the Kouachi brothers in a printing workshop outside Paris while at the same time others killed Amedy Coulibaly, who took control of a kosher supermarket at the Porte de Vincennes and killed four hostages, one day after he shot dead a policewoman.

Despite the huge shock from last week’s attacks, in the eyes of intelligence officials, it was not a particularly major assault. In total, the three jihadists killed 17 people, including eight journalists and three police officers, before they were shot dead. While those numbers are a tragic loss, they are still far smaller than, for example, an attack on a crowded bus or train might be. On July 7, 2005, four suicide bombers killed 52 people in London while the Madrid train bombing in 2004 left 191 dead. Speaking of last week’s attacks, Trotignon said that leaving aside the enormous turmoil, it could be far worse. “Of course it was a drama with a lot of dead people on the ground,” he said, then apologized for perhaps sounding callous. Still, he said, “these are not the worst possible terrorists in Europe.”

Although all three men are dead, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve opted to maintain the top-level security threat level in place across the country, saying that France was “under threat.” Yet averting the next terror attack could be a daunting task, Trotignon said. “It is impossible in all of Europe, not only in France but also Germany and everywhere, to monitor every guy coming from Syria or Iraq,” he said. “We know in the intelligence community that it is impossible.”

On Monday the government announced it was deploying 10,000 troops to protect hundreds of Jewish schools and synagogues across the country — the first time France has ever used military personnel to protect civilians, according to Army Colonel Benoît Brulen, speaking to a reporter in Paris’s 11th District, close to the site of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. “It is an indication of the level of menace we face,” he said.

TIME France

Paris Jews Reel After Deadly Kosher-Supermarket Attack

Boys in front of the Yeshiva Yad Mordechai in Le Marais, Paris, Jan. 11, 2015.
Julien Pebrel—MYOP for TIME Boys in front of the Yeshiva Yad Mordechai, a religious institution, in Le Marais, Paris, Jan. 11, 2015.

As they absorb the tragedy, many say they believe the killings prove that their fears have been well-grounded

Correction appended, Jan. 12

Last week’s chaotic violence in Paris reached a spectacular climax on Friday afternoon, when a lone gunman stormed through the doors of a kosher supermarket, Kalashnikov blazing, and took its customers siege. Four hostages died in the terrifying four-hour ordeal. Amedy Coulibaly’s assault in Paris’s easternmost neighborhood appeared to erupt out of nowhere after days dominated by the Charlie Hebdo massacre; it jangled already frayed French nerves and pushed security forces close to a breaking point.

The attack has been an intense shock to France’s 600,000 Jews. On Friday night, the city’s ornate Grand Synagogue in the traditional Jewish district of the Marais cancelled its Sabbath services for the first time in 70 years, when the neighborhood was under Nazi occupation.

And yet, despite the deep shock, French Jews say the very fact that there was a deadly assault on a kosher supermarket comes as little surprise.

MORE Kosher Supermarket Assault Confirms Worst Fears of French Jews

For months, indeed years now, French Jewish leaders have been warning government officials, journalists and each other that they sense a creeping anti-Semitism in the country, and that they increasingly feel a strong unease about their own security. About 7,000 French Jews left the country during 2014, according to the Jewish Agency for Israel, with many emigrating to Israel; that number is double the figure from 2013.

Some community leaders say hate speech against Jews has exploded in recent times, defanged of its stigma, thanks in part to figures like the hugely popular French-Cameroonian actor Dieudonné (recently profiled in TIME), whose one-man shows feature jokes about the Holocaust and play to packed audiences in Paris. And while statistics are difficult to confirm, Jewish organizations report rocketing numbers of anti-Semitic aggression, such as people desecrating Jewish gravestones and scrawling anti-Jewish graffiti. Last June, a small group of Muslims attacked Jewish stores and a synagogue in a Paris suburb. Sooner or later, many Jewish leaders have warned, there would be a truly violent attack.

That violent attack has now occurred. And as Jews absorb the tragedy, many say they believe the killings prove that their fears have been well-grounded, rather than exaggerated nervousness, as some French have believed. “There is a feeling of anger, and yet in a way this was expected,” Sasha Reingewirtz, president of the Union of French Jewish Students, told TIME on Sunday. He said he and others now hope that Friday’s attack will force a reckoning among non-French Jews about how to tackle anti-Semitism—and perhaps push French Muslim leaders to become far more vocal on the issue. “It is going to take years, but I really believe this week is a moment of change.”

The first such signs of change might have come on Sunday, when hundreds of people arrived at the mammoth solidarity march carrying hand-written signs saying, “Je suis Juif,” or “I am Jewish”—a symbolic show of empathy after the killings, even among those who were not in fact Jewish. Such overt support, Jewish leaders say, feels somewhat new. “I’m very hopeful,” said Rabbi Tom Cohen, an American immigrant in Paris. “I think all these events will lead the French to think about things.”

There are still deep anxieties among French Jews, however. On Sunday, the traditional shopping day in the Marais, Jewish store-owners said they had at first hesitated to open their doors. Once they did so, they were planning to beef up security.

Le Marais, Paris - In the bookshop: the owner and her son
Julien Pebrel—MYOP for TIMELouise Magnichever, owner of Librairie du Temple bookshop, and her son.

Louise Magnichever, who for 35 years has owned the neighborhood’s Librairie du Temple, a Judaica bookstore, said she and her son Zeev would install metal shutters that could drop quickly in the event of an attack. Zeev was also considering buying a gun to keep inside the store, she admitted, “but against a Kalashnikov what good is it going to do?”

Indeed, despite the kumbaya feeling of Sunday’s march—where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walked among numerous heads of state, just a few yards from Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas—Jewish leaders fear that little will be done to tackle anti-Semitism once the turmoil of this past week subsides. Muslim leaders equally complain of being stereotyped and, just like French Jews, sense a rising level of violence against them. Several mosques have suffered attacks since last Wednesday’s massacre at the Charlie Hebdo office.

For now, both sides appear keen to work together against terror threats. On Saturday evening, several Islamic clerics joined a memorial service outside the site of Friday’s hostage siege at the kosher supermarket, and others attended a ceremony with Netanyahu at the Grand Synagogue on Sunday. Whether all that leads to change is yet unclear, however. “I hope this is a wake-up call,” said local real-estate agent Franck Cohen, 46, while standing on a sidewalk in the Marais on Sunday as thousands of people passed by in the unity march. “I hope this is the time they finally do something, rather than offer more words and empty assurances.”

—With reporting by Jay Newton-Small / Paris

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Zeev Magnichever was the husband of Louise Magnichever. He is her son.

Read next: Paris March Draws Huge Crowds

TIME France

Paris March in Solidarity Against Terror Attacks Was Largest in French History

Heads of state joined about 1 million people expressing solidarity against terrorist strikes

Correction appended, Jan. 11.

Heads of state from across Europe, Africa and the Middle East flew into Paris on Sunday to take to the streets alongside an estimated 1 million people in the city — including the entire French government. It was the largest demonstration in the country’s history, showing defiance and unity in the wake of a week marked by tumultuous violence and deep emotion in France.

With an estimated 1 million people on the streets, French police posted sharpshooters on the roofs of the buildings starting Sunday morning, along the 2.5-mile route of the march. Helicopters buzzed over central Paris as the city awoke to what would be yet another day for the history books.

Before the march began, the atmosphere was peaceful and friendly. Hundreds of parents brought small children, carrying them on their shoulders through the jam-packed streets.

At one sidewalk café on the edge of Place de la République, two small girls sat drawing signs, one reading, “Pour la France, Pour Charlie.”

Many wore “Je Suis Charlie” attire, or draped themselves in French flags. There were hundreds of hand-drawn signs too, reading “Je Suis Juif,” or “I Am Jewish,” not necessarily from Jews, but rather a mark of solidarity for those killed in the kosher-supermarket siege on Friday.

The police presence was heavy. People chanted, “Liberté, egalité, fraternité” (Freedom, equality, brotherhood), “Nous Sommes Tous Charlie” (We Are All Charlie) and “On N’a Pas Peur” (We Are Not afraid). “Merci à la Police” got more applause than anything else.

The march kicked off at 3 p.m., Paris time, and began along its route from the city’s Place de la République, a wide-open plaza that dominates the congested neighborhoods of eastern Paris, to the Place de la Nation farther east.

World leaders brushed off the risks to their own safety and seemed determined to be in Paris, first as a show of solidarity with those killed, and also as a statement that they are — at least right now — united against terrorism. The three days of chaotic violence resulted in the deaths of 20 people, including three terrorists, who died in a blaze of police gunfire on Friday evening. “The reaction of people, and now the reaction of the whole world, is unprecedented,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Europe 1 radio on Sunday morning. “This afternoon, Paris will be the world capital in the fight against terrorism.”

As a measure of how much this week’s killings have moved the world, the attacks, and Sunday’s march, brought together those who are bitterly divided back at home, but who for just a few chilly hours on a January Sunday in Paris stood and walked together.

The extraordinary mix included Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas; NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Among other leaders in the march were British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, King Abdullah II of Jordan, the leaders of Spain, Italy and Portugal, and numerous others from West and North Africa, and the Persian Gulf. Also in Paris is U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; Holder told reporters in Paris on Sunday that the White House would gather world leaders on Feb. 18 to discuss how to tackle extremism.

For Parisians, the weekend has brought a sense of both exhaustion and relief.

This week’s terrifying tumult — Wednesday’s massacre at the satirical Charlie Hebdo paper, Thursday’s shooting of police officers, and two violent hostage sieges on Friday — has left the country reeling and with much to contemplate: about the security of Paris, the country and Europe.

In a food market on Paris’ Left Bank on Sunday morning, the talk among vendors and shoppers focused almost solely on what everyone had experienced during the week. “Are you going to the march?” asked one woman to another. “Of course!” she replied. “Everyone is going.”

From early Sunday, hundreds of Parisians of all colors began pouring into Place de la République, which has been the focus of public mourning since Wednesday’s massacre, during which two brothers killed eight journalists, just a short walk away. The plaza has filled up with makeshift shrines of piles of flowers and candles; thousands of pens and pencils have been laid around the square’s huge fountain, in a symbolic tribute to the journalists killed in the attack. Eva Rosado, an 18-year-old studying in the northern city of Lille, said she had taken the train alone to Paris on Sunday, feeling she had to be at the march. “I haven’t been able to work at all this week,” she said. “I’ve woken up early every morning, wondering what is going to happen.”

Only 5 years old on 9/11, Rosado said that “this is the first attack I can really remember, and it has really affected me, the idea that people can come into central Paris with Kalashnikovs and kill people, it’s something I could never have imagined. But today at the march I feel safe, the security and police is very present.”

Laila Koumrane, an actress who moved to Paris from Morocco 15 years ago, brought her two children, ages 9 and 2, to the march. “We have a duty to show our children that we are not afraid. As Muslims, we have to condemn these acts of terrorism. I am proud to be here,” she said.

Leaving aside the raw emotions, there are urgent questions at stake. And well before the march began, leaders and officials gathering in Paris met to discuss issues that now are critically urgent. Chief among them: how to stop the wave of young Europeans who have joined jihadist groups fighting in Syria and Iraq from returning to mount terrorist attacks on home soil; how French intelligence failed to avert Wednesday’s attack; and how military-grade Kalashnikov rifles made their way into central Paris.

One of the Charlie Hebdo attackers, Saïd Kouachi, was well known to intelligence officers as having trained in Yemen with al-Qaeda’s franchise there; his brother Chérif had served time in jail for jihadist activities; and Amedy Coulibaly, who fatally shot a policewoman on Thursday and four hostages in a kosher supermarket on Friday, claimed his allegiance to the extremist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, and has a girlfriend who is believed to have traveled to Syria last week to join the jihad.

The possibility of ISIS involvement in Paris’ attacks increased on Sunday, when a video emerged online showing Coulibaly with a Kalashnikov rifle under an ISIS flag, claiming that he had coordinated his attack this week with the Kouachi brothers.

Nonetheless, U.S. Attorney General Holder said Sunday that investigators do not yet have reliable information on which terrorist groups were responsible for the attacks.

Henry Querel, 55, who works for the Paris city council, said during Sunday’s march that the country should “ban people from going abroad to fight. But we cannot ban those that are already there from coming home if they are French citizens. We have to understand it’s brainwashing, they are not in their right mind.”

On Sunday morning top law-enforcement officials, including Holder, holed up at the French Interior Ministry in central Paris to discuss what to do. And despite the fact that all three of this week’s attackers are now dead, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Friday opted to keep in place a red-alert security-threat level nationwide, fearing that the week’s violence might not be over. “We are under threat,” he told reporters.

— With reporting by Naina Bajekal and Jay Newton-Small / Paris

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly described a sign held at the massive unity march in Paris. The sign, which said Charlie Hebdo, Irresponsible Newspaper. Oil and Fire,” was quoting from a Charlie Hebdo cartoon, not criticizing the publication.

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