New ISIS video warns of attack on United States
PARIS — Declaring that “France is at war,” President Francois Hollande on Monday proposed sweeping new laws and more spending on public safety in response to Friday’s terror attacks in Paris — promising to eradicate terrorism, but not at the expense of France’s freedom.
At the same time, ISIS threatened the United States that it could be next.
“I swear to God, as we struck France in its stronghold Paris, we will strike America in its stronghold, Washington,” an ISIS fighter declared in a video released Monday.
The speech, and ISIS’ latest threat, came as police scoured France and Belgium in a hunt for suspects in Friday’s brutal attacks, which left at least 129 dead and 352 wounded.
Hollande calls for new laws
In a rare speech to a joint session of parliament, Hollande urged lawmakers to approve a three-month extension of the nation’s state of emergency, new laws that would allow authorities to strip the citizenship from French-born terrorists, and provisions making it easier to deport suspected terrorists.
He also proposed adding 5,000 positions to the country’s national paramilitary police force and said he would not propose cuts in the nation’s defense spending until at least 2019.
He said France would intensify its attacks on ISIS and called for a United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the worldwide threat posed by the group.
“We are not committed to a war of civilizations, because these assassins don’t represent any civilization,” Hollande said. “We are in a war against terrorism, jihadism, which threatens the whole world.”
“Terrorism will not destroy France, because France will destroy it,” Hollande said.
Raids across France
French police carried out raids around the country overnight into Monday, bringing to 150 the number of raids under the country’s state of emergency since Friday.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Monday that a rocket launcher and bulletproof vest were among the items seized. He said he had ordered that 104 people be put under house arrest since the attacks.
In Belgium, authorities arrested seven people in weekend raids, but five of those have been released, according to Jean-Pascal Thoreau of Belgium’s federal prosecutor’s office.
Mohammed Abdeslam, the brother of Salah Abdeslam — who is wanted by French authorities in connection with the Paris attacks — was among those released.
An international manhunt is underway for Salah Abdeslam, who has already managed to slip through the fingers of authorities at least once.
Suspect at large described as dangerous
He is a 26-year-old French citizen who was born in Belgium, French police said in a public request for information, warning that he is dangerous and should not be approached. Belgium has issued an international warrant for his arrest.
Investigators haven’t said much about how they believe Abdeslam is tied to the shootings and bombings that targeted people at restaurants, bars, a concert venue and a sports stadium.
The French newspaper Le Monde reported that he rented the black Volkswagen Polo that was found outside the Bataclan concert hall where three attackers massacred at least 89 people before blowing themselves up or being shot by police.
Questioned by police, then let go
Jean-Pascal Thoreau, a spokesman for Belgium’s federal prosecutor, said Abdeslam is one of three brothers suspected of involvement in the rampage of violence. One of the brothers was killed in the attacks, and another was arrested by Belgian police, he said.
Salah Abdeslam had been questioned by French police earlier but was not detained, a source close to the investigation into the Paris attacks said.
He was driving in the direction of the Belgian border a few hours after the attacks when officers stopped him, the source said. Now, his whereabouts are unknown.
Le Monde reported that police hadn’t yet linked him to the Paris attacks when they stopped him and two other people in a black Volkswagen Golf. When Belgian police stopped the car later Saturday, Abdeslam was no longer in it.
On Monday, police had blocked off two streets in an active standoff in Molenbeek, a suburb of Brussels, Belgium, with a history of links to terrorism plots. Police in balaclavas surrounded a building and were using a megaphone to command someone to come out, a CNN team on the ground reported.
No one was arrested, Thoreau said. Belgian state broadcaster RTBF, citing the country’s Federal Justice Department, had previously reported that police made one arrest but had not apprehended Abdeslam.
Car found with weapons inside
Le Monde reported that Salah Abdeslam’s older brother Ibrahim was the suicide bomber whose explosives detonated at a cafe on boulevard Voltaire in eastern Paris during the wave of attacks on the city. The Paris prosecutor’s office has identified that attacker as a 31-year-old French citizen but hasn’t disclosed his name.
According to Le Monde, Ibrahim Abdeslam rented the black Seat car that authorities say was used in the string of deadly attacks on restaurants and bars on Friday. But it’s not yet clear whether he was in the vehicle at the time of the attacks, the newspaper said.
The Seat was found abandoned in the eastern Paris suburb of Montreuil with three Kalashnikov automatic rifles inside, CNN affiliate BFMTV reported Sunday.
Other suspected attackers have been identified, including Ismael Omar Mostefai, a 29-year-old French citizen from the Paris suburbs who authorities say was radicalized in 2010 but wasn’t known to be associated with a terrorist group. Mostefai was one of the three terrorists who stormed the Bataclan concert hall, according to officials.
On Monday, the Paris prosecutor’s office identified another of the Bataclan attackers as Samy Amimour, a 28-year-old from the Parisian suburb of Drancy.
Amimour was known to have links to terrorists and had been the subject of an international arrest warrant since 2013 after violating the judicial supervision he had been placed under, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
He was placed under supervision in 2012 after anti-terrorism authorities investigated an aborted attempt to travel to Yemen, the statement said.
Stadium attacker believed to have fought in Syria
Authorities have also released names for two of the suicide bombers who set off their explosives outside the Stade de France, the national stadium where France’s soccer team was playing Germany’s.
One is Bilal Hadfi, who is reported to have been a 20-year-old French citizen living in Belgium.
Guy van Vlierden, a Belgian terrorism expert, said Hadfi is thought to have fought in Syria, where he went by the names Abu Moudjahid Al-Belgiki and Bilal Al Mouhajir.
Hadfi appears to have traveled to Syria last spring, van Vlierden said, citing analysis of his social media postings and other communications.
At least three of the terrorists involved in Friday’s attacks in France have spent time in Syria, a French official told CNN Sunday. The official did not specify who those three attackers were.
On Monday, CNN affiliate BFM reported that French officials believe that six of the people directly involved in the attacks had spent time in Syria.
Syrian passport holder linked to refugee flow
Attention is also heavily focused on a Syrian passport found near the body of another of the three Stade de France bombers.
The first stadium attacker was carrying the passport, a French senator who was briefed by the Interior Ministry told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. French officials have determined that the bomber was among a group of Syrian refugees who arrived on the Greek island of Leros on October 3.
The senator told CNN that the man was carrying the passport and also a registration document for refugee status by Greek authorities. The fingerprints of the passport holder taken by Greek authorities match those of the terrorist who blew himself up at the Stade de France, the senator said.
The Paris prosecutor’s office on Monday confirmed the link, saying the passport bearing the name of Ahmad Al Mohammad, a 25-year-old from Idlib, still needs to be verified.
Attack raises concerns internationally
In Britain, authorities said they would increase security for Tuesday’s soccer match between England and France. And in Washington, transit police stepped up patrols to safeguard the city’s mass transit system.
More patrols, more dogs and random explosives screenings were introduced, along with unseen countermeasures meant to prsevent an attack, the Metro Transit Police Department said.
The Department of Homeland Safety said it had no “specific credible information of an attack on the U.S. homeland.”
CIA Director John Brennan said he would be surprised if the group doesn’t have additional attacks in preparation.
“I would anticipate this is not the only operation they have in the pipeline,” he said. “I do believe this is something we will have to deal with for quite some time.”
Refugee concerns intensify
The alleged link between one of the Paris attackers and the refugees from the Syrian war flocking to Europe this year has intensified concerns about how to handle the massive influx of people.
“The fear that terrorists are hiding amongst refugees will increase and will be used by anti-immigrant politicians,” said Karen Jacobsen, who directs the Refugees and Forced Migration program at Tufts University’s Feinstein International Center.
But she said measures like “sealing borders with razor wire and having police on trains requesting papers” won’t prevent desperate refugees from reaching Europe.
“The United States and Europe must work together to find reasonable ways to manage the current refugee flow into Europe and to utilize more creative and effective intelligence to monitor terrorist plans,” Jacobsen wrote in an opinion article for CNN.
City on edge
On Monday, Parisians tried to return to school and work in a city scarred by its second major terror attack this year. In January, terrorists stormed the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 12.
At one intersection, police who arrived to direct traffic Monday were met by worried pedestrians asking “Is anything happening?” according to CNN’s Atika Shubert.
At a Paris school, a father said, “It’s difficult to let them go off to school and for us to return to work, for everyone. We’re all just going to have to look out for one another.”
In a radio address Monday, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said, “Life must carry on, but we are going to live a long time with this terrorist threat, and without doubt we have to prepare for new attacks.”