TIME France

How Twitter Tracked the French Terror Suspects

France Search for Paris Terrorists
Francois Nascimbeni—AFP/Getty Images 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.

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 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.


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.

TIME world affairs

Charlie Hebdo Writer: ‘We Knew That the Threat Was Real’

Cartoonist Antonio Fischetti answers to
Alexander Klein—AFP/Getty Images Cartoonist Antonio Fischetti speaks to journalists in front of the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Nov. 2, 2011, in Paris after they were destroyed by a petrol-bomb attack overnight

A journalist with the French satirical newspaper talks about the unimaginable loss of so many slain colleagues and the future of his publication

Just after the attack that left at least 12 people dead at the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, Antonio Fischetti, a journalist for the paper, spoke with Coralie Schaub, a Libération staff reporter. His remarks follow:

“We knew that the threat was real, but we weren’t paranoid. Threats against Charlie were recurrent, continual, habitual. There weren’t more recently, and the vigilance had been relaxed. After the fire that destroyed our offices in 2011 [the paper was firebombed after publishing cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad in what Islamist groups said was an act of revenge], there has been a police car outside in front of the paper. At first, it was there all the time, and then during the editorial meeting on Wednesday mornings. But for some time, a month or two, it hasn’t been there. The attackers must have noticed. They really waited for the right moment. Even though there was a code to enter the building, even though you had to know that the newspaper was on the second floor, it was easier to get in to our current offices on Nicolas-Appert Street than it was at our previous location, on Serpollet Street.

Charb [editor in chief, Stéphane Charbonnier] still had his two bodyguards. When he came to have dinner with me, we joked a little about them. I asked him: ‘Well, where did you leave your two bodyguards?’ Once he took a taxi without them. The driver recognized him and asked him to get out right away. The bodyguard told him to never take a taxi alone. He even went on vacation with the guards.

We all said that someone a little crazy and determined, with a Kalashnikov, could go after Charlie. We all knew that Charb might be targeted, he had already been directly targeted by al-Qaeda on the Internet. The idea that we could be killed one day was always in our minds. But carnage of this magnitude, with the desire to kill everyone …

The miracles are those who were late [to work], like Luz [Renald Luzier] or Catherine Meurisse. Or absent like me — I was at a funeral outside Paris. We were friends, not just colleagues. I was particularly close to Charb and Tignous.

They wanted to completely eradicate a newspaper. This is not ‘just’ kill the editor. There are no words. This is really an act of war. All for drawings … they are sick. Charlie had a mission, supported by some, opposed by others. I am even more aware today how important this fight is. We were all in agreement that we should not give in. But they decided to eradicate this symbol of freedom that was Charlie … I talk about it in the past, because I do not see how the newspaper can survive this. Charlie was a newspaper of cartoonists. The writers, like me, are interchangeable. Them not. The Charbs, Tignous, Wolinskis — there are not even 50 like them. Not to mention Cabu.”

This account was excerpted and translated, with permission, from an article that originally appeared in Libération on Jan. 7. You can read the original story here.

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

12 Cartoonists Pay Tribute to Charlie Hebdo Staff

Homages to the French satirical newspaper's editors and cartoonists killed in Wednesday's terror attack

The terror attack in Paris on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo left twelve people dead, including eight members of the paper’s staff. Among the dead was editor and principal cartoonist Stéphane Charbonnier. Cartoonists around the world have published sketches and cartoons in solidarity with those who were killed.

Here are some of the most powerful:

Dave Brown, The Independent

David Pope, The Canberra Times

Tommy Dessine, France

“Oh no… Not them…”

Nono, Le Télégramme

Left side of plinth: “Died for the freedom of expression”

Macleod, Evansville Courier and Press

Jean Jullien, France

Ann Telneas, The Washington Post:

Tom Toles, The Washington Post:

Joep Bertams, Netherlands

Ruben L. Oppenheimer, Netherlands

Rob Tornoe, Philadelphia Inquirer

Plantu, France

“Wholeheartedly with Charlie Hebdo”


Je Suis Charlie: Crowds in London Stand With Charlie Hebdo

People raise pens and signs during a vigil to pay tribute to the victims of a shooting by gunmen at the offices of weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, at Trafalgar Square in London, Jan. 7, 2015.
Suzanne Plunkett—Reuters People raise pens and signs during a vigil to pay tribute to the victims of a shooting by gunmen at the Paris headquarters of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo at Trafalgar Square in London on Jan. 7, 2015

People protesting the Paris killings met in Trafalgar Square as British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the attack in Downing Street

Out of the horror came something beautiful. Not all of the people who traveled to London’s Trafalgar Square, or attended similar vigils in other cities and countries throughout Europe, could explain why they felt impelled to come. They just knew that they wanted to stand together, not only to protest the slaughter at the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, but in some way to continue the work of the French satirical newspaper. Its editors, writers and most famously its cartoonists had regularly challenged those who sought to stifle freedom of expression.

As the news of the attack spread, the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie — “I Am Charlie” — became a declaration of solidarity, and the vigils organized and publicized on social media offered a way to make that declaration substantial.

“I saw the pictures on television,” says Marie Proffit, a Frenchwoman working in London as an arts-project manager, “and I needed to do something with these feelings.” Her English friend Leanne Hammacott, who works at the Cultural Institute at King’s College London, pointed her to Facebook pages calling for people to assemble in Trafalgar Square. By 6:30 p.m. they met up with each other and another friend, Tina Westiner, a German designer also based in the city.

They stood in near silence in a crowd of several hundreds under Nelson’s Column, the 19th century memorial to the British Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died fighting the French and the Spanish. But on this evening history bound rather than divided. Members of the crowd held up pens — mightier than the sword — and flowers and placards: “Je Suis Charlie.”

Less than a minute away at 10 Downing Street, the leaders of two European countries who have not always seen eye to eye also focused on common ground. Germany has taken on the 2015 presidency of the G-7 group of nations and its Chancellor Angela Merkel had arrived in the U.K. on Jan. 7 to meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron. On the agenda was a weighty palette of issues, from the fight against Ebola to the stuttering economy and the sharpening crisis in the euro zone — and of the European Union itself.

The E.U. evolved from a project designed to create peace. But these days the union is increasingly a source of friction, between countries and within them. Conflict has returned to the continent. Over dinner the leaders planned to discuss Russia and Ukraine. “There’s still time,” Cameron said at a joint press conference with Merkel, “for Vladimir Putin to change course.”

He and Merkel put on a united front, and especially as they reflected on the horror in Paris. The U.K. security services MI5 and MI6 had given the leaders a joint briefing, who in turn emphasized the importance of international cooperation in combating terrorist attacks. Both leaders also spoke of the importance of upholding free speech.

“There is no one single answer to these appalling terrorist attacks,” said Cameron. “We have to all be vigilant. We have to try to address all the problems of radicalization that have happened in our country. But as we do all these things, we must be very clear about one thing, which is we should never give up the values that we believe in and defend as part of our democracy and civilization and believing in a free press, in freedom of expression, in the right of people to write and say what they believe. These are the things we are defending. We should be very clear on this day that these values that we have are not sources of weakness for us, they are sources of strength.”

#JeSuisCharlie. We all are.

TIME foreign affairs

Blasphemy Is at the Front Lines of Free Speech Today

French police officers and forensic experts examine the car used by armed gunmen who stormed the Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, 2015 in Paris.
Domique Faget—AFP/Getty Images French police officers and forensic experts examine the car used by armed gunmen who stormed the Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, 2015 in Paris.

Walter Olson is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies.

There is no middle ground, no soft compromise available to keep everyone happy

If you defend freedom of speech today, realize that “blasphemy” is its front line, in Paris and the world.

There is no middle ground, no soft compromise available to keep everyone happy–not after the murders at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Either we resolve to defend the liberty of all who write, draw, type, and think–not just even when they deny the truth of a religion or poke fun at it, but especially then–or that liberty will endure only at the sufferance of fanatical Islamists in our midst. And this dark moment for the cause of intellectual freedom will be followed by many more.

Can anyone who has paid attention truly say they were surprised by the Paris attack? The French satirical magazine had long been high on a list of presumed Islamist targets. In 2011—to world outrage that was transient, at best—fanatics firebombed its offices over its printing of cartoons. Nor was that anything new. In 2006, the Danish cartoonists of Jyllands-Posten had to go into hiding for the same category of offense, as had author Salman Rushdie before them.

In a new book entitled The Tyranny of Silence: How One Cartoon Ignited a Global Debate on the Future of Free Speech, journalist Flemming Rose, who was at the center of the Danish cartoon controversy, traces its grim aftermath in the self-silencing of Western opinion. Most of the prestige Western press dodged the running of the cartoons, and beneath the talk of sensitivity was often simple fear. As journalist Josh Barro noted today on Twitter, “Islamists have by and large succeeded in intimidating western media out of publishing images of Muhammad.”

That fear has been felt in the United States as well. Yale’s university press, in publishing a book on the Muhammad cartoons controversy, chose to omit printing the cartoons themselves, on the grounds that doing so “ran a serious risk of instigating violence.” (The late Christopher Hitchens brilliantly assailed the press for its lack of courage.)

As for elected leaders, they were hardly better. The French government repeatedly pressured Charlie Hebdo not to go so far in giving offense. The government of Jacques Chirac stood by at, or by some accounts even encouraged, a court action aimed at fining the magazine for having offended some Muslims. Then-British foreign minister Jack Straw, representing the nation that gave the world John Milton and John Stuart Mill, blasted re-publication of the cartoons as “insensitive” and “disrespectful.” And if you imagine the leaders of the United States did much better, here’s another Christopher Hitchens column on how mealy-mouthed they were at the time in the cause of the intellectual liberty that is supposed to be among America’s proudest guarantees.

The danger is not that there will be too little outpouring of solidarity, grief, and outrage in coming days. Of course there will be that. Demonstrations are already underway across France. The danger comes afterward, once the story passes and intellectuals and those who discuss and distribute their work decide how and whether to adjust themselves to a more intense climate of fear. At media outlets, among conference planners, at universities, there will be certain lawyers and risk managers and compliance experts and insurance buyers ready to advise the safer course, the course of silence.

And then there are the lawmakers. After years in which blasphemy laws were assumed to be a relic of the past, laws accomplishing much of the same effect are once again on the march in Europe, banning “defamation of religion,” insult to religious beliefs, or overly vigorous criticism of other people’s religions when defined as “hate speech.” This must go no further. One way we can honor Charb, Cabu, Wolinski, Tignous, and the others who were killed Wednesday is by lifting legal constraints on what their successors tomorrow can draw and write.

Walter Olson is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies.

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.

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