The lights of nearly a thousand cell phones flash messages in Hebrew and French on the screens of Israelis in the cold, all proclaiming, “I am Charlie. Israel is with Charlie.”
Hundreds stood outside of the home of French Ambassador Patrick Maisonnave on Thursday to express their support for France following Wednesday’s terror attack in Paris. Silently the demonstrators held up pens, pencils and any other writing implement they could find to signify their solidarity with the slain journalists. Another hundred stood in rainy Jerusalem to hold a two-minute “moment of silence” at the French Consulate to pay homage to the victims with “Je Suis Charlie” signs and memorial candles.
Twelve people — 10 journalists and two police officers — were slaughtered by three radical Islamist terrorists and 11 others were wounded in the attack at the Paris offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly magazine.
And the head of Britain domestic intelligence agency says there’s more where that came from heading straight for Europe.
One of the three terrorists surrendered to police overnight after wide-ranging raids resulted in nine arrests. Two of the armed terror suspects, who spoke fluent, colloquial French, are still at large.
The French ambassador in Tel Aviv hosted former Israeli president Shimon Peres at a memorial for the victims. One was a Jewish, 81-year-old caricature artist of Algerian birth, Georges Wolinski.
“With a heavy heart I send my condolences to the victims’ families, they are the victims of a historical struggle against barbarism and terror,” Peres said. “I know your hearts are still bleeding but I am confident that freedom will win, that France will win.”
Similar events were held in countless cities around the world on Wednesday night and Thursday by people from all walks of life, each silently holding up a pencil or a pen.
Many media outlets questioned whether journalists would begin to “self-censor” out of fear of terrorism directed at them personally. The attackers had called out each journalist by name before shooting and killing each one on Wednesday.
The two brothers still being hunted, 34 year old Said Kouachi and his brother, 32 year old Cherif Kouachi, were both listed in the United States database of known or suspected terrorists, according to a report Thursday in The New York Times.
A senior U.S. official told journalists at a briefing that Said Kouachi traveled to Yemen in 2011 and was trained there by terrorists from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Both brothers were on a U.S. no-fly list for years; but they flew to Syria last year, officials said. It is possible – if not likely – they received weapons and other combat training from terrorist leaders there.
The brothers also may have received training from a French national named David Drugeon, The Daily Beast reported. Drugeon is known to the intelligence community as a top bomb builder for a Syria-based Al Qaeda unit called the Khorasan Group. The group is linked with AQAP in Yemen, and was created specifically to train foreign jihadists who travel to Syria to learn how to carry out attacks in their home countries. Drugeon survived a coalition air strike aimed at the terror group’s headquarters in Syria last year and is believed to be at large, according to the report.
An Al Qaeda magazine targeting jihadists who live in the West had, in fact, called for the assassination of Stephan Chardonnier, editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo – the first victim in the attack.
The attack was praised in a tweet by a Twitter account linked to AQAP and referred followers to a recent issue of “Inspire” – a magazine published by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) magazine. That group has also called for attacks on Charlie Hebdo in the past.
Nevertheless, analysts say the evidence gathered so far leads more towards Al Qaeda and away from ISIS.