TIME psychology

Sibling Barbarity: What Drove the Brothers Accused of Paris Attack?

People gather to pay respect for the victims of a terror attack against a satirical newspaper, in Paris, Jan. 7, 2015.
People gather to pay respect for the victims of a terror attack against a satirical newspaper, in Paris on Jan. 7, 2015. Thibault Camus—AP

The sibling bond can be a powerful force for good—until it turns deadly

The murders at Charlie Hebdo are a case of darkness wrapped in darkness, multiple layers of horror that have turned the local slaughter into a global trauma. There’s the hijacking of a religion, with evil committed in the name of a gentle faith; then there’s the threat to free expression, one of the best tools the civilized world has against barbarism. And, of course, there are the killings themselves, methodical executions conducted by pitiless gunmen.

Central to all of that is the mystery of the people whom police believe carried out the killings — no different in some ways from terrorists who’ve gone before them, but very different in one critical way: They were brothers. Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Said Kouachi, 34, both French citizens, were the central—and apparently only—targets in a manhunt that spread across France and enlisted the support of law enforcement experts around the world before they were killed in a police raid Friday after taking a hostage.

The drama played out at the very moment that, 3,500 miles away, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, is standing trial for the Boston marathon bombing, an act of terror he is accused of committing in 2013 with his older brother Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout with police just days after the crime.

That, inevitably, raises questions about the sibling bond itself. How do the Tsarnaevs and Kouachis compare with other wicked siblings, like Lyle and Erik Menendez, who murdered their parents in 1989 in a case that became a national obsession? Are they all merely outliers, bad characters who would have each done wrong no matter what? Or is there a particular power the sibling relationship has to hothouse the worst traits in the people who are part of it?

One thing is certain: brothers and sisters influence one another’s behavior in a way that no other person in their lives—not parents, not teachers, not friends or spouses—seems to be able to, especially when it comes to bad behavior. A younger brother or sister is twice as likely to drink and four times as likely to smoke if an older sibling has already picked up the habits, according to research I reported in my 2011 book The Sibling Effect. Younger sisters are four to six times likelier to become pregnant in high school if their big sisters were teen moms first.

“Having an older sibling exposes you to things firstborns simply aren’t exposed to,” Susan Averett, a professor of economics and a siblings expert at Lafayette College, told me. “You see things you wouldn’t otherwise have seen. In some ways your innocence gets taken away.”

Smoking and drinking, of course, are behavioral misdemeanors. But older brothers and sisters can lead their little sibs into much larger crimes too. Theft, assault, drug-dealing, even murder can all be part of a sibling-to-sibling legacy that psychologists and sociologists call “delinquency training.” The hand-me-down misbehavior is more common brother-to-brother, but it’s by no means absent in sisters. More troublingly, it doesn’t take long for learned behaviors to become permanent behaviors—even if the siblings drift apart.

“Siblings train each other, they influence each other,” says psychologist Jennifer Jenkins of the University of Toronto. “A person is fashioned from all these small things.”

Even true felonies, of course, are nothing compared to what the Tsarnaevs and the Kouachis allegedly did. For that kind of savagery, you need something more—and typically that something is grievance, a shared sense of being wronged, which the siblings echo back and forth to each another, repeating and reinforcing the perceived outrage. In most cases, the influence runs from older to younger.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a Chechen immigrant like his older brother, was a scholarship student who wanted to study nursing and was variously described by his friends in all of the ways people who wind up doing something terrible often are—generous, compassionate, thoughtful, never showing a sign of trouble. Tamerlan, on the other hand, never quite adjusted to life in the U.S. and retreated further and further into isolation and resentment. “I don’t have a single American friend because I don’t understand them,” he complained in 2010.

But he did have Dzhokhar, and once Tamerlan began flirting with jihad in 2011, it might have been relatively easy for him to bring his little brother around—especially because no matter how well Dzhokhar assimilated in the U.S., he was still an outsider by birth, language, culture and, in the case of Chechnya, violent, religiously driven politics. Working with that emotional clay, a big brother could easily shape his little sib into nearly anything he wanted.

“When siblings are very close,” psychologist Elizabeth Stormshank of the University of Oregon told me, “that relationship becomes more powerful and meaningful and can enhance risk behavior as well.”

If the Kouachis underwent a similar radicalization, early reports suggest it was younger brother Cherif, not big brother Said, who took the lead. Cherif had already spent time in prison in 2008 for being part of an organization that was recruiting jihadis, while Said’s rap sheet is said to be clean. Both brothers were in Syria within the past year, however, and might well have come back radicalized. According to a witness at the scene of the Charlie Hebdo killings, one of the masked shooters said, “You can tell the media that it’s al-Qaeda in Yemen.”

The Menendez brothers may have similarly schooled one another in grievance, sharing both a home and a hall of mirrors relationship in which they convinced each other that their wealthy parents had done them wrong and that nothing could be more just than for them to die for their crimes and lose their fortune to the sons they’d mistreated. Indeed, the idea that they’d been abused was at the center of the failed defense the brothers mounted at trial.

Certainly, it’s not just siblings who can share a poisonous—and ultimately murderous—relationship. John Allen Muhammad and Lee Roy Malvo, the Beltway snipers who terrorized the Washington metropolitan area in 2003 weren’t brothers. Nor were Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine killers. But in both cases there was a dominant partner—very similar to an older sibling. Muhammad was much older than Malvo—41 at the time of the killings compared to Malvo, who was only 17. Klebold and Harris were classmates, but Harris was the far stronger, far more lethally charismatic personality, someone who would likely have turned out a monster no matter what. Without Harris, Klebold may have had a chance.

It’s way too early to say anything with certainty about the Kouachis’ relationship. Even if both survive the ongoing manhunt and are captured, it may be impossible to unravel their shared pathology. It matters—some—to try, because understanding the mind of evil may help prevent such crimes in the future. But in some ways the effort is irrelevant. The 12 people killed in the Charlie Hebdo attack are never coming back; the 11 people who were injured can never be fully uninjured. It is a sad fact of this latest human atrocity that the sibling relationship—which can be one of the richest and most nurturing of all—may have been the source of so much suffering.

TIME France

See the Eiffel Tower Go Dark in Honor of Paris Attack Victims

The iconic tower cut its lights at 8 p.m. local time on Thursday, a day of national mourning.

The iconic Eiffel Tower dimmed its lights Thursday night, as France ended a day of mourning for those killed in a terrorist attack in Paris the day before.

Armed gunmen stormed the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 10 journalists and two police officers. The killers, believed to be Islamist extremists, were still on the run Thursday evening local time.

 

TIME foreign affairs

Three Reasons France Became a Target for Jihad

Global Reaction To The Terrorist Attack On French Newspaper Charlie Hebdo
Papers with 'I am Charlie' displayed are left near candles at a vigil in front of the French Embassy following the terrorist attack in Paris on Jan. 7, 2015 in Berlin. Carsten Koall—Getty Images

John R. Bowen is a Professor of Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis.

The country has long and tangled history with the Muslim world and organized religion

Jihad seems to hit France harder than other countries, with more than 1,000 young people leaving to fight on the side of ISIS or other jihadis in Iraq and Syria, and now the murderous attack by two men of Algerian descent on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. Why, and where will this latest attack lead?

There are three points to keep in mind as we watch the investigations play out.

First, France has been more closely engaged with the Muslim world longer than any other Western country. Since 1830, when it conquered Algeria, it has seen much of Muslim Africa as its own backyard. And after World War I, France took control of Syria and Lebanon as well. Many French settled in North Africa, and after World War II, many North Africans came to France to work in new factories, most settling in poor areas in Paris, Lyon, and the industrialized north. In the post-industrial era, factories were shut down but the settlers stayed. And it is their children and grandchildren who in 2005 exploded in rage over their exclusion from French society. The 1995 movie La Haine showed this rage before the fact—and also made clear that these explosions had nothing to with religion.

France left Algeria only at the end of a long and bloody war, from 1954 to 1962, which continues to reverberate throughout the country, especially in the south, where Algerians who fought on both sides of the war settled in Provence and kept the conflict alive. Here is where the far-right National Front was founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen, a paratrooper nourishing anger against De Gaulle’s “abandonment” of French Algeria. His daughter Marine now leads the party.

But unlike other European colonial powers, the French never really left their former colonies, continuing to intervene economically and militarily to defend France’s national interests in Africa and the Near East. Now this means battling al Qaeda and ISIS in Mali, Iraq, and, perhaps in the future, Syria. So when disaffected young men and women tune in to jihadi web sites, they find French-speaking Muslims telling them of the sins their government is committing against their “brothers and sisters” in Iraq and Syria. Resentment at French racism, at the series of largely symbolic measures taken against Muslims, such as the 2010 ban on wearing face-veils in public, add to this anger, and lead some towards fighting.

Second, the French Republic has nourished a sense of combat with the Church—which for some means with religion of any sort. If in the 19th century, the Church retained its hold on young minds through its monopoly of primary schools, by the end of that century the state had built a secular and free system of schools. Thereafter, the Dreyfus affair pitted an openly anti-Semitic Catholic establishment against pro-Republican intellectuals, Vichy gave powers to anti-Jewish French officials, and after the war schools continued to be the focal point, a microcosm, of the battle between religious and secularist camps.

Modern France thus produced a strong tradition, especially in Paris, of opposition to organized religion, and satire of its pretensions. Charlie Hebdo succeeded a long line of satirical magazines that ridiculed religion, and Charlie took down all with pretensions: Christians, Muslims, Michael Jackson—everyone.

Third, the attack risks to add fuel to the rise of the Far Right in France and throughout Europe. The National Front is already spinning the attack as showing up the basic incompatibility of Islam and the values of France. Even as its leader, Marine Le Pen, the much smoother political heir to her father, Jean-Marie, maintains a moderate line, officially stating that France was united for freedom of expression, she added that “the time for hypocrisy was over,” and that not confusing Islam with terrorism not ought to lead us to deny the obvious. Some of her lieutenants went further, attacking Islam directly, and the immediate commentators to Le Monde’s on-line coverage overwhelmingly took this line: anti-religion and anti-Islam.

France will not change its decades-old foreign policy, nor are rights and practices of satire likely to fade away. But the main impact may be to use the attacks as an excuse to blame Islam and immigration for broad anxieties about where things are going in Europe today. Such a confusion can only strengthen the far right.

John R. Bowen is a Professor of Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, and author of Can Islam be French, Blaming Islam, and the forthcoming Shari’a in Britain.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME France

How Twitter Tracked the French Terror Suspects

France Search for Paris Terrorists
Members of GIPN and of RAID, French police special forces, are pictured in Corcy, near Villers-Cotterets, north-east of Paris, on Jan. 8, 2015, where the two armed suspects from the attack on French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo were spotted in a gray Clio. Francois Nascimbeni—AFP/Getty Images

The precise whereabouts of Saïd and Chérif Kouachi are unconfirmed

Thousands of police and soldiers were searching for Saïd and Chérif Kouachi on Thursday in connection with the killing of 12 people in an attack on the office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. But Twitter was never far behind.

The suspects were first seen in a grey Renault Clio in the Aisne area of Picardie, north-east of Paris.

They were next reported to have robbed a gas station in nearby Villers-Cotteret.

A French journalist later tweeted a photo of the gas station which had been sealed off by police.

The search then moved to Crepy-en-Valois as convoys of police vehicles entered the town.

A local radio station tweeted pictures of military helicopters hovering in the area.

The search then moved to Abbaye de Longpoint.

And then onto the nearby forest.

There is no official confirmation of the whereabouts of Saïd and Chérif Kouachi and Twitter may prove to have been inaccurate. But we’ll need to keep an eye on social media to find out.

TIME France

The Irreplaceable Staff of Charlie Hebdo

In France, these writers and cartoonists were as well known as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are to Americans

I’m a journalist but was only by chance in the vicinity of the massacre at the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. I was en route to visit a friend. This took me past the paper’s office and thus put me at the heart of the bloodiest attack France has seen in the past 50 years.

On my approach, it was immediately obvious that there had been a massive terrorist attack. Such attacks have a characteristic signature. Swarms of ambulances. Police vehicles and mobile labs. Grim-faced cops. Crime-scene tape stretching for blocks. A very particular expression on the faces of dazed and bewildered onlookers.

I asked the first cop I saw what had happened. She was in no mood to explain: “You’ll see it on the news.”

“How bad is it?”

“Grave.” Not quite translatable, but “as bad as it gets” will do.

France is in shock. The attack killed 12 people and injured several others critically, as of press time. The number of fatalities may rise. Masked gunmen attacked the paper’s office. But their object was not merely to terrorize. This is obvious, and let no one tell you otherwise. This was an attack on France. It was an outright declaration of war.

It was an attack on press freedom in particular–on journalists, writers, cartoonists and intellectuals who were as well known here as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are to Americans. They were known above all for their willingness to say whatever they damn well pleased–no matter whom they offended or how many death threats resulted. While their publication was best known for its parodies of Muslim extremists, they were more than happy to say whatever they pleased about Jews and Catholics too–and never were that respectful, either. But only radical Islamists thought the proper rejoinder was simply to kill them all.

In December 2011, the magazine’s office was firebombed following an issue it claimed was “guest edited” by the Prophet Muhammad. Shortly before the latest attack, it tweeted a mildly amusing cartoon of the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.

The cartoonists who died–Charb, Cabu, Tignous, Wolinski–were household names. Bernard Maris, known as Uncle Bernie, was an economist to whom the French have listened every Friday morning on the radio since the 1990s.

Le Monde, Radio France and France Télévisions have lent their staff to keep Charlie Hebdo going, but France is not a big enough country to replace such figures readily. They were literally irreplaceable. This is true of every human being, of course, but they in particular filled a role no one else in France can fill.

In 2012, in an interview with Le Monde, Stéphane Charbonnier, Charlie Hebdo’s director, was asked if he was tempted to tone down the publication’s inclination toward the inflammatory.

“It may sound pompous,” he replied, “but I’d rather die standing than live on my knees.”

It hardly sounds pompous at all. Especially given that this is precisely what he did.

Berlinski, an American journalist and biographer, lives in Paris

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME France

Hunt for 2 Continues in French Shooting as 1 Surrenders

France Newspaper Attack
French soldiers patrol the Eiffel Tower after a shooting at a French satirical newspaper in Paris on Jan. 7, 2015 Christophe Ena—AP

Shouting "Allahu akbar!" as they fired, the men spoke in fluent, unaccented French

(PARIS) — Police hunted Thursday for two heavily armed men, one with possible links to al-Qaida, in the methodical killing of 12 people at a satirical newspaper that caricatured the Prophet Muhammed. France began a day of national mourning for what its president called “an act of exceptional barbarism.”

France’s prime minister, Manuel Valls, said the two men were known to intelligence services and the fear that they could carry out another attack “is our main concern.” Valls told RTL radio there had been several detentions overnight during the manhunt.

One of the suspects, Cherif Kouachi, had a history of funneling jihadi fighters to Iraq and a terrorism conviction from 2008. He and his brother, Said, should be considered “armed and dangerous,” French police said in a bulletin early Thursday, appealing for witnesses after a fruitless search in the city of Reims, in French Champagne country.

A third man, Mourad Hamyd, 18, surrendered at a police station in a small town in the eastern region after learning his name was linked to the attacks in the news and social media, said Paris prosecutor’s spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre. She did not specify his relationship to the Kouachi brothers.

France raised its terror alert system to the maximum and bolstered security with more than 800 extra soldiers to guard media offices, places of worship, transport and other sensitive areas. A nationwide minute of silence was planned for noon.

Fears had been running high in Europe that jihadis trained in warfare abroad would stage attacks at home. The French suspect in a deadly attack on a Jewish museum in Belgium had returned from fighting with extremists in Syria; and the man who rampaged in the south of France in 2012, killing three soldiers and four people at a Jewish school in Toulouse, received paramilitary training in Pakistan.

One witness to Wednesday’s attack said the gunmen were so methodical he at first mistook them for an elite anti-terrorism squad. Then they fired on a police officer.

The masked, black-clad men with assault rifles stormed the offices near Paris’ Bastille monument in the Wednesday noontime attack on the publication, which had long drawn condemnation and threats — it was firebombed in 2011 — for its depictions of Islam, although it also satirized other religions and political figures.

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.

Shouting “Allahu akbar!” as they fired, the men spoke in fluent, unaccented French as they called out the names of specific employees.

Eight journalists, two police officers, a maintenance worker and a visitor were killed, said prosecutor Francois Molins. He said 11 people were wounded, four of them seriously.

Two gunmen strolled out to a black car waiting below, one of them calmly shooting a wounded police officer in the head as he writhed on the ground, according to video and a man who watched in fear from his home across the street.

“They knew exactly what they had to do and exactly where to shoot. While one kept watch and checked that the traffic was good for them, the other one delivered the final coup de grace,” said the witness, who refused to allow his name to be used because he feared for his safety.

“Hey! We avenged the Prophet Muhammad! We killed Charlie Hebdo,” one of the men shouted in French, according to video shot from a nearby building.

One police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing, said the suspects were linked to a Yemeni terrorist network. Cedric Le Bechec, a witness who encountered the escaping gunmen, quoted the attackers as saying: “You can tell the media that it’s al-Qaida in Yemen.”

After fleeing, the attackers collided with another vehicle, then hijacked another car before disappearing in broad daylight, Molins said.

The other dead were identified as cartoonists Georges Wolinski and Berbard Verlhac, better known as Tignous, and Jean Cabut, known as “Cabu.” Also killed was Bernard Maris, an economist who was a contributor to the newspaper and was heard regularly on French radio.

One cartoon, released in this week’s issue and titled “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.

Le Bechec, the witness who encountered the gunmen in another part of Paris, described on his Facebook page seeing two men “get out of a bullet-ridden car with a rocket-launcher in hand, eject an old guy from his car and calmly say hi to the public, saying ‘you can tell the media that it’s al-Qaida in Yemen.'”

In a somber address to the nation Wednesday night, French President Francois Hollande pledged to hunt down the killers, and pleaded with his compatriots to come together in a time of insecurity and suspicion.

“Let us unite, and we will win,” he said. “Vive la France!”

Thousands of people later jammed Republique Square near the site of the shooting to honor the victims, waving pens and papers reading “Je suis Charlie” — “I am Charlie.” Similar rallies were held in London’s Trafalgar Square as well as Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin and Brussels.

“This is the darkest day of the history of the French press,” said Christophe DeLoire of Reporters Without Borders.

Both al-Qaida and the Islamic State group have repeatedly threatened to attack France, which is conducting airstrikes against extremists in Iraq and fighting Islamic militants in Africa. Charb was specifically threatened in a 2013 edition of the al-Qaida magazine Inspire, which also included an article titled “France the Imbecile Invader.”

Cherif Kouachi, now 32, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after being convicted of terrorism charges in 2008 for helping funnel fighters to Iraq’s insurgency. He said he was outraged at the torture of Iraqi inmates at the U.S. prison at Abu Ghraib near Baghdad and “really believed in the idea” of fighting the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

A tweet from an al-Qaida representative who communicated Wednesday with The Associated Press said the group was not claiming responsibility for the attack, but called it “inspiring.”

___

Associated Press writers Jamey Keaten, Philippe Sotto, Samuel Petrequin, Angela Charlton, Sylvie Corbet and John Leicester in Paris; Raphael Satter in London; Sarah el-Deeb in Cairo; Zeina Karam and Diaa Hadid in Beirut; and Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this story.

TIME celebrities

Louis C.K. Shows Solidarity By Wearing a Charlie Hebdo Shirt on Stage

Famed comic honors slain satirists

Comedian Louis C.K. has joined satirists worldwide in expressing solidarity with French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

C.K. swapped his usual black shirt for a red one at his Wednesday night performance at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, in honor of the victims of the attack on Charlie Hebdo, MTV reports. His red shirt bore the handwritten name of the magazine in black ink.

The Wednesday assault on the magazine’s Paris offices, in which masked gunmen murdered 12 people — including the publication’s top editor, cartoonists and police officers — has brought outpourings of shock and grief from world leaders, celebrities, journalists, law enforcement and the global community.

[MTV]

TIME France

What to Know About the Paris Terrorist Attack

What happened, who did it, and the satirical newspaper at the center of France's worst terrorist attack in recent memory, Charlie Hebdo

France was set for a day of mourning Thursday after a terrorist attack Wednesday on the Paris offices of a satirical French newspaper left at least 12 people dead, including eight journalists. On Thursday, thousands of police and soldiers were searching for two men who may have been seen at a gas station north-east of Paris.

Here’s what you need to know.

What happened?
At about 11 a.m. on Wednesday, gunmen in black ski masks with Kalashnikov weapons stormed the offices of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo and opened fire on an editorial meeting before fleeing in one car and then hijacking and escaping in another. By the time it was over, at least 12 people were killed and another 11 injured — four critically — in the deadliest terrorist attack in France in recent memory. Among the dead was editor Stéphane Charbonnier, known by his pen name Charb, the revered iconoclast cartoonist who had long defended his staff’s right to free speech.

What is Charlie Hebdo?
The French satirical newspaper has a long and storied history of lambasting just about all aspects of French society, including politics, pop culture and religion. Founded in 1970, the newspaper’s incendiary cartoons have given it a permanent place in French discourse, even if the newspaper has never gained a particularly high circulation. Last month, for example, the newspaper printed a depiction of the Virgin Mary that showed her spread-eagle giving birth to Jesus. In 2009, following the death of Michael Jackson, the newspaper’s cover featured a cartoon white skeleton of Jackson with the headline, “Michael Jackson Finally White.” And in September 2012, the paper printed a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad naked, despite protests from the French government amid concerns that the image would incite violence.

MORE: The Provocative History of French Weekly Newspaper Charlie Hebdo

The newspaper’s coverage of Islam put it in the global spotlight even before Wednesday’s attack. In 2006, it published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that had previously been printed in a Danish newspaper and prompted protests from Muslims around the world. Two Muslim civil rights groups sued the paper in a case that was ultimately thrown out. In 2011, a day after announcing that the Prophet Muhammad would be its “editor in chief” for the next issue, the newspaper’s offices were firebombed. No one was injured in that attack, but the newspaper was forced to change offices and boost security. Charbonnier, the newspaper’s editor, was assigned a bodyguard.

In October, one of the newspaper’s cover illustrations showed a militant of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria beheading the Prophet. Last month, it portrayed the Virgin Mary, legs spread, giving birth to Jesus.

Who are the suspects?
The prime suspects for the Charlie Hebdo massacre are Saïd Kouachi, 34, and his brother Chérif, 32, who were born of Algerian immigrant parents in Paris’ 10th District and whom police believe returned to France last summer after fighting with jihadist groups in Syria. The brothers were orphaned at a young age, and raised in foster care in the city of Rennes, according to the French paper Libération.

Police zeroed in on the two after Saïd left his national identity card in the Citroen car which the two used to flee from the police on Wednesday, according to French media reports.

Little is known about Saïd, but Chérif was part of a network of militants from Paris’ 19th District, a relatively poor, immigrant area on the northeastern edge of the city, that found recruits for jihadist activities after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Not a devout Muslim, Chérif allegedly joined the jihad after seeing the photographs of abuse by U.S. soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison in 2004. He later described to police how an imam in his neighborhood had recruited youth to fight against U.S. forces in Iraq, according to the New York Times, which wrote about him and his friends in 2005.

Read more about the brothers here.

What were their motives?
It’s not clear if the attackers were responding to a specific item. The newspaper’s most recent issue, for example, featured on its cover a cartoon of controversial French author Michel Houellebecq, whose latest book Submission — which was published in France the same day as the attack — envisions France coming under Islamist control. Al-Qaeda named Charbonnier, the Charlie Hebdo editor, to its most-wanted list in 2013.

What was the police response?
Police at or arriving on the scene appeared to have been initially outgunned by the heavily armed assailants. Two officers were killed and two others were seriously injured, according to Le Monde. But once the gunmen fled, French authorities raised the terrorism alert to its highest level and initiated a massive operation to secure the city and find the suspects as part of France’s Vigipirate program, a security alert system that dates back to 1978. Authorities said 2,000 additional police officers and 650 members of the armed forces would be deployed Thursday to protect key locations in the city, including tourist sites, major transportation hubs and places of worship.

What was the world’s response?
Public support for Charlie Hebdo flowed in from across France and from around the world. An estimated 100,000 people took to the streets across the country to express solidarity with the newspaper, while the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie — “I Am Charlie” — flooded social media. Meanwhile, cartoonists the world over published their personal homages to the staff of the newspaper, and three of France’s leading media organizations pledged resources to keep Charlie Hebdo publishing.

World leaders joined the chorus condemning the attack. President Hollande traveled to the scene of the attack on Wednesday and declared the attacks a terrorist act aimed at undermining the right to free speech. “France today received a shock,” he said. “A newspaper means free speech for journalists.”

U.S. President Barack Obama expressed outrage over the attacks and his administration offered to provide assistance tracking down the suspects.

“For us to see the kind of cowardly, evil attacks that took place today reinforces once again why it’s so important for us to stand in solidarity with them just as they stand in solidarity with us,” Obama said from the White House. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have lost their loved ones.”

Read next: Mosques Attacked in France Following Charlie Hebdo Attack

TIME France

Front Pages React to Paris Terrorist Attack on Charlie Hebdo

Many of the 12 killed in Wednesday's attack worked at the newspaper

Twelve people were killed on Wednesday when police in Paris said three gunmen attacked the office of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The terrorist attack sent shock waves through the global media community, prompting an outpouring of support for the victims as officials condemned the violence and authorities hunted the assailants. Here is a selection of front pages, set for publication Thursday, that led with the tragedy.

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