The French Terror Wave, 2015–2016

Al-Qaeda and ISIS Attacks from Charlie Hebdo to the Bataclan Theatre


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About the Book

A torrent of Islamist terrorism swept across France in 2015 and 2016, executed by militant jihadists on behalf of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS). Their targets ranged from the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine to the Bataclan Theatre on the Boulevard Voltaire to a parish church in a Normandy village and a beachfront promenade on the Mediterranean. This book reconstructs these and other terrorist offensives France weathered during this period. Placing each attack in its sociopolitical context, the author examines the backgrounds and motives of the perpetrators, the attributes of the victims and the legacy of the attacks for the people.

About the Author(s)

Marc E. Vargo is the author of ten nonfiction books and numerous articles in professional journals. He lives on New Orleans’ Northshore.

Bibliographic Details

Marc E. Vargo

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 264
Bibliographic Info: 11 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7918-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4131-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Ascent of Radical Islamism in the French Republic 1

Part I. The Pen and the Sword: Freedom of the Press, Islamist Extremism, and the Massacre at Charlie Hebdo Magazine
1. Charlie Hebdo Magazine and the Grand Tradition of French Satire 8
2. Courting Conflict: The Muhammad Cartoon Controversies in Denmark and France 15
3. Stéphane Charbonnier: Satirist, Skeptic, Target 26
4. Al-Qaeda and the Radicalization of Saïd and Chérif Kouachi 35
5. Silencing Satire: The Assault on Charlie Hebdo 50

Part II. The Campaign to Demoralize: ISIS Attacks at the Bataclan Theatre, the Stade de France, and the Cafés of Paris
6. Belgium, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, and the Paris Terror Units 74
7. Carnival of Horror: The Bataclan Theatre, Stade de France, and the Café Attacks of Friday the Thirteenth 96
8. Responses to the Attacks: The Medical Community, the Military, and Law Enforcement Agencies 121

Part III. Radical Islamism and Single-Perpetrator Terrorist Offensives in France
9. Lone-Actor Terrorism, Encrypted Extremism, and Remote Control Attacks 136
10. Normandy: The Slaying of a Parish Priest 151
11. Insanity by the Sea: The Bastille Day Ramming Attack 167
12. The Ramadan Murders: Ritualized Assault at an American-Owned Chemical Plant in France 184
13. Terror on the Tracks: Face-Off on a ­High-Speed Train to Paris 194

Epilogue—France Today: Emotional Scars, Enhanced Security, and the Question of Future Attacks 206
Chapter Notes 211
Bibliography 233
Index 251