Investigation Continues; Raids Conducted Across France

Nov 16, 2015
Originally published on November 16, 2015 2:44 pm
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene in Paris. We're in a studio overlooking a major Boulevard in the city leading to one of the major commuter train stations in Paris. Now, we should say news this morning, French police made raids last night here in Paris and across much of the country as they searched for suspects linked to Friday's attacks in Paris that killed 129 people. This is a city in mourning and also clearly in fear. The president of France, Francois Hollande, called Friday's attacks a, quote, "act of war," and people in the city woke up to news that France has launched air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley is with us from her home in Paris. Eleanor, good morning.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning, David.

GREENE: So I know you have been listening to one official after another, giving messages of comfort, some caution, some warning to people in this country. The interior minister has just spoken now that the head of the police force - what are we hearing?

BEARDSLEY: Absolutely, David. He said that 168 raids took place overnight in about 19 cities around the country. Twenty-three people have been arrested. And they've seized 31 guns, as well as bulletproof vests, also computers, cellphones and drugs. Now, let me just say that not all of these searches were related to the recent terror attacks. France is under a state of emergency and they took advantage of that to go into neighborhoods where they suspected there to be radical Islamist networks, and they just rounded people up. They also found drugs, and he emphasized the porous nature between, you know, drug dealing and terrorism - it's very close. But these raids allowed them to identify two new attackers.

GREENE: Those raids, I mean, they're all over the place. This sounds like a nationwide manhunt that is ongoing. This is huge.

BEARDSLEY: It is huge. And, David, there is actually a manhunt for an eighth attacker from Friday night who is on the lam. And they were able to identify a new attacker from the searches last night. And apparently, Bernard Cazeneuve, the interior minister, said that the attacker who escaped, who drove the other gunmen to this concert hall, he was linked to a Belgian living in Syria who gave the order to go into a concert hall and kill people.

GREENE: You know, Eleanor, I think just after these attacks, it seemed like people were hoping that many of those who carried them out, you know, were either killed or weren't on the loose. It's sounding like people may very well be on the loose and that might be one reason we're hearing from the prime minister saying, you know, to the people of this country, you know, be on guard because there could be more attacks in coming days and weeks.

BEARDSLEY: In fact, David, he said there will be more attacks. Well, he said beware of more attacks. He was not comforting at all. He said France is at war and there is war brought to France. He said be prepared for more attacks. So yes, people are on guard. But it's Monday, people are going back to school, going back to work. And we've seen parents taking their kids to school. They've had to go by some of these places where the killings took place Friday night. And there was going to be a minute of silence in classrooms and across the nation at noon. And yes, the city is in mourning. The city is in shock. The city is angry. The city is fearful. Everything is going on at once.

GREENE: Yeah, it seems like so many emotions. I mean, there's a street right behind us and you see a lot of activity and people around. But it doesn't feel like the energy you usually see in the city. I mean, a lot of people just sort of have their heads down, and there's a real somber mood. Eleanor, stay on the line with me if you can. I want to bring in another voice here. It's Harold Hyman. He's a national security correspondent for French television, also a resident of Paris. He's an expert in national security affairs. And, Harold, let me just ask you, one of the attackers it seems, based on fingerprints, it seems clear that he was coming through as part of a wave of migrants into France. Can you just tell me, does that have the potential to change the views of the French people on what has been a very sensitive subject in Europe, and that is how to handle this wave of migration?

HAROLD HIGHMAN: Yes, obviously it's going to impact the thinking because what you hear a lot is ordinary people saying, oh, my, these refugees are going to bring with them ISIS. They don't know that they are actually right, but not the way they think. ISIS will infiltrate the people who are seeking refuge. They're not the refugees. The typical ones are more escaping ISIS than ISIS themselves. But it's an old tactic, it goes back to World War II and whatever you like and the Cold War. You slip in bad guys with the refugees and this is what you're going to get. So I do hope that our authorities explain this clearly.

GREENE: Let me just ask you, you, as I understand, live in one of the neighborhoods that was hit the other night in Friday's attacks. Can you just take me through Friday night and into the weekend what you saw and what you were thinking?

HIGHMAN: Well, I saw a little action from my window because my street is a side street that gives on to one of the killing sites. The killing site being (speaking French) street. And so I heard yelling in the street. And I looked out the window and there - police with drawn machine guns pointing at someone, this little fellow who was, like, trying to escape them. And they were screaming get down, get down, like, on your - on the floor, on the floor, and he wasn't doing it. But he had his arms out, so he obviously didn't have a gun, but he had a little pack on him, you know, like a little postal - you know, neat little body bag there. And they pounced on him, which was, you know, kind of brave because they didn't know what was in that bag. And they cuffed him. I later learned he was not involved. But they shut down my street. And the police were, like, stuck against the wall, like, in commando position, expecting other people to pop out from between the cars and the urban, you know. There's these huge plant boxes - and pop out from anywhere. So they were totally on edge. And when they stopped being on edge, I left my apartment and went towards the Bataclan. And of course it was a deserted city.

GREENE: The Bataclan, of course, is a concert venue where so many people were killed. But you're saying, I mean, following this it's just been deserted. We saw police barricades, I mean, all over what is your neighborhood.

HIGHMAN: Yes. The streets were empty, but the police were shouting at people passing by. You realize there aren't people in Paris, what are you doing outside? But if you sort of looked like a journalist, they would talk to you and and say, go that way, go this way, that's where your friends are. And there wasn't that much to see 'cause the police kept us extremely far away. The big shock came when we realized just how many places were hit. I mean, I wondered how many beers that I have in a place that I was machine-gunned. And I had had a beer a half hour before in a place not very far away.

GREENE: That's an amazing feeling that you must have had. Eleanor Beardsley, I know you're still on the line, but we're going to have to get back to you elsewhere in the program. I'm eager to hear about your thoughts being a Parisian yourself. But we'll be covering this story all morning here from Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.