Paris: France was in mourning on Sunday, even as one of the terrorists who massacred 129 people in Mumbai-type attacks was identified as a Parisian with a criminal record. The defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian said France would revise its security strategy to better respond to terror attacks, with an expert warning that the terror strike wasn’t “one off” and similar attacks were likely to occur again.
A severed finger of the terrorist was found in the blood-stained Bataclan concert hall where one group of the assailants went on a shooting spree killing 80-100 music lovers who were there to hear an American band play.
Prosecutors identified the terrorist as Omar Ismail Mostefai, a 29-year-old French citizen of Algerian origin with a criminal record.
A car was also found in Paris with a large number of automatic rifles hidden in its back seat.
Prosecutors said the coordinated attacks at six spots packed with tourists were carried out by three teams of gunmen and suicide bombers.
The deadly attacks — akin to the manner in which terrorists from Pakistan rampaged through Mumbai in November 2008 killing 166 Indians and foreigners — also left around 350 people wounded.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bloodbath, and threatened more bloodshed because of France’s participation in the US-led attacks on the terrorist group.
Six suspects were detained in Paris, among them Mostefai’s brother, father and sister-in-law. They were being interrogated.
Reports said investigators were working on the theory that there may have been another team of attackers who managed to flee the scene.
The discovery of a Syrian passport near the body of one of the attackers has raised suspicion that some of the killers may have entered Europe as part of an influx of people fleeing Syria’s civil war.
Amid national mourning, France continued the grim task of identifying the dead and tending to the wounded.
Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said “several dozen” bodies have been identified.
The victims, besides French, included those from Britain, Sweden, Italy, the US and Spain. Three crisis centres were set up to counsel victims and their families.
In response to appeal for blood donations, Parisians lined up at hospitals en masse.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls said France would continue with air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria. President Francois Hollande cancelled his plans to attend the G20 summit meeting in Turkey.
Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Sunday said France will revise its security strategy to better respond to terror attacks.
“The scale of the threat has changed. It has militarised and our defence strategy must be adapted to that. This is a considerable challenge and France will meet it,” Xinhua quoted Le Drian as telling local weekly Le Journal de Dimanche.
“After the launch of the Sentinel operation (after attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine in January), it became necessary to define a new strategy on the use of the country’s armed forces,” he said.
“Daech (an acronym referring to the Islamic State) is a real terrorist army and we must fight relentlessly everywhere,” Le Drian said.
Magnus Ranstorp, an expert on terrorism, told The Local that the terror attacks weren’t “one off” and similar deadly attacks were likely to occur again.
He said the Islamic State went on the offensive in France because “the French have been exercising their military muscle. There has been tough talk, particularly after Charlie Hebdo”.
“France are at war and have been for some time, through the coalition,” he said.
The terrorism expert explained that close to 2,000 French citizens have been fighting with the Islamic State. This constitutes a third of Europeans within the IS.
“In some countries it has become more difficult to travel to Syria. In France, however, it (travel) has been accelerating,” The Local quoted Ranstorp as saying.
He said there have been 17 publicly revealed attacks or foiled attacks in France since the war began in Syria.
“This is an escalation on this issue. The French have to worry more than most other countries about two fronts — both North Africa and ISIS,” Ranstorp said.
“Why did they attack Paris now? IS have been losing territory inside of Syria and to some extent in Iraq. They, therefore, are going on the offensive to make up ground after these losses.”
“I’ve been speaking to intelligence agencies in Europe, who say that the moment they turn their attention towards Europe we have a problem,” the terrorism expert said.
“It’s not a one-off, it’s going to continue. It may take a while – they’re clamping down,” he said.
First Published | 16 November 2015 8:51 AM