Three Days of Terror Have Given Birth to Worse in France: NormalcyFriday, May 19, 2017
On November 13, 2015, the world watched in horror as an organized act of terrorism left 130 dead and hundreds injured in Paris, France. As innocent civilians basked in the beauty of France and the pleasure of the company of friends and family, they were brutally slaughtered in a series of acts that shook the city and the world.
But the seeds of terrorism had actually been planted 10 months earlier. HBO’s documentary Three Days of Terror: The Charlie Hebdo Attacks gives an in-depth look at the senseless killings of innocent journalists, civilians and a police officer. The film was directed by Emmy-nominated filmmaker Dan Reed and tells the story of that fateful day through real-time footage, photographs and first-person interviews.
On January 7, 2015, two brothers claiming to be part of Al-Qaeda in Yemen broke into the offices of Charlie Hebdo (French for “Weekly Charlie”), a weekly satire publication, killing 11 people and injuring 11 others. Chérif and Saïd Kouachi calmly walked around the magazine office, lining up innocent people who were begging for their lives, and executing them. Above the room where the massacre was taking place, others hid in fear as they heard the gunshots and screams.
This was not the first time the Charlie Hebdo offices had been targeted; in 2011, a firebombing caused some damage to the magazine’s home base. As a result, the publication moved to a more secure facility with unmarked offices. Unfortunately, these precautions were not enough.
“What sticks with you are the interviews, and the bewilderment of the people who survived.”
— The New York Times
As the gunmen moved out of the building, they were confronted by a police officer responding to the scene. The pair ambushed the officer with semiautomatic weapons, killing him. The militants then went on the run, prompting a countrywide manhunt.
But the horror wasn’t over. Terrorism again reared its ugly head when lone gunman Amedy Coulibaly shot and killed a Jewish civilian and a police officer and took more than a dozen people hostage in a kosher supermarket on the very same day. Coulibaly claimed that he had worked with the brothers who were responsible for the killings at Charlie Hebdo.
“They attacked Charlie Hebdo … while I took on the police,” Coulibaly said during an interview in the HBO documentary. “So there you go. We acted kind of together, kind of separately … to have more impact.”
Three Days of Terror: The Charlie Hebdo Attacks shows the heroic work of the paramilitary officers and policeman who pursued the Kouachi brothers and worked to save the hostages being terrorized in the supermarket. The world watched as over the course of the next two days, the police pursued the militants relentlessly before cornering the brothers in a small shop. With swift skill and precision, police forces closed in on the pair, killing them in the raid.
Back in the supermarket, a tactical mission proved to be successful as two teams of paramilitary officers attacked the structure from the front and the back. Coulibaly panicked and rushed to the front of the store, only to be killed by police. None of his hostages were harmed in the mission.
Through tears, the victims – from both Charlie Hebdo and the supermarket – shared the horrors they had experienced on that fateful day. Although they had been kept captive in different places, they shared the common fear of not knowing if they would make it out alive.
Those three days were filled with terror. The country and the world wondered how something like this could happen. But those acts became the source from which other, similar incidents began to occur across the country and around Europe.
These culminated in one of the worst terrorist attacks in history, in November 2015, when a bomb went off in a crowded stadium, killing several and injuring others. Then a series of smaller attacks happened in various points in Paris, when gunmen opened fire inside several bars and restaurants. The deadliest attack came later that night, when assailants broke into a concert venue and opened fire on the crowd. In all, on November 13, 2015, 130 people died and 368 were injured. Seven of the attackers also died.
These horrific attacks marked a year that will never be forgotten in French history. But the attacks have also birthed a far greater problem in that country. When the first attacks happened, the media coverage was extensive and the response from citizens and the government was one of strength. Since those days of horror, several other terrorist acts have happened – including a truck’s being driven into a crowd of people in July 2016.
As more of these despicable acts continue to happen, the more commonplace it seems they are. Terrorism of any sort should be met with fierce and thorough action. As President Donald Trump has recently shown in bombing Islamic State camps and locations, the only way to battle terrorism is to put real fear into the hearts of those who seek to harm the innocent.
Three Days of Terror: The Charlie Hebdo Attacks is available to view on HBO Now and HBO Go. It is rated TV-14.