Was the terrorist attack in France (Bataclan, 13 November 2015) due to French interventions in Iraq and Syria? Amazingly, this question is being debated at a trial which is taking place at the moment in Paris. It is debated because the one survivor makes it one of his defence arguments. And also because the terrorists are heard saying as much in an accidental recording made during the shooting.
Le Monde discusses this in the article translated in part below. The paper unsurprisingly concludes that the attacks were not a response to French bombings!
“Were the attacks of November 13 a response to French bombings? […] Was France attacked for what it is or for what it does? This question has been at the heart of the trial for two months now. Over the weeks, several factual elements have been brought to the debates.
Was France attacked for what it stands for, or because of its military interventions in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State organization (IS)? This question has been present in the trial of the 13 November attacks since its beginning. It was raised on September 15, on the sixth day of the hearing, by the main defendant, Salah Abdeslam:
“François Hollande says that we are fighting France because of your values and to divide you. This is an obvious lie. When François Hollande made the decision to attack the Islamic State, he knew very well that his decision carried risks.”
Two months later, the testimony of the former president of the Republic, heard as a witness on November 10, sounded like a response to these words from the box : “This terrorist group has struck us not for our modes of action abroad, but for our ways of life right here.”
It was not always easy, during the hearings, to decide between these two explanations. The complexity of the facts, the sometimes floating chronology of some of the participants and the very length of the trial have rarely made it possible to grasp this question in its entirety. However, over the weeks, the debates have provided many elements of an answer.
Were the attacks a response to the intervention in Syria?
On October 28, an audio excerpt from a Dictaphone left behind by a spectator, which recorded the two and a half hours of the Bataclan massacre, was played at the hearing. In it, between two rounds of shooting, a terrorist was heard justifying the attacks:
“Why are we doing this? You are bombing our brothers in Syria, in Iraq. (…) You can only blame your president, François Hollande.”
Asked by a lawyer for civil parties about the fact that his name is mentioned three times in this recording, François Hollande replied:
“It was a learned formula, a sort of refrain saying that it was my fault if there had been this attack. What was the intention? It was twofold: the first was to make us give up our intervention in Iraq and Syria. The second was to divide us, to make sure that even within our country there could be doubt”.”
Contributed by Cathy Winch