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Homeland Security

Experts: Gunmen in Paris Attack Likely Had Military Training

by Jamie Dettmer January 07, 2015

The black-clad gunmen who stormed the Paris offices of a satirical magazine known for lampooning Islam displayed proficiency in weapons handling, suggesting they had received military training, say security experts.

Shouting "Allahu Akbar!" (God is Great), the three masked gunmen executed a carefully planned assault coinciding with the magazine's weekly editorial meeting, when the staff and contributors were gathered in one place.

The attackers were armed with automatic weapons and quickly stormed the offices, calling out the names of some of the editors and cartoonists they wanted to target.

Cell phone video by witnesses of the attack and posted on the Liveleak website shows the gunmen moving forward separately in military style ready to provide cover fire for each other. They are disciplined in their handling of their weapons, take careful aim, avoid wild gunfire and fire two rounds in quick succession before pausing. When killing one of the two policemen who died in the assault, a gunman fires a shot at the wounded, downed man's head as he strides past.

One of the attackers is filmed wearing a sand-colored ammunition vest.

"Likely they were military trained," said security consultant Olivier Gutta. According to him the question is whether they are jihadists who have recently returned from training and combat in a Mideast war zone for either al Qaida or the rival jihadist group the self-styled Islamic State or are self-recruited assassins who had served in the French military or another national army.

According to French newspaper Le Monde, witnesses report the attackers said they were carrying out the assault on behalf of al Qaida in Yemen. But this has not been confirmed and no claim for responsibility for the shootings has been made.

"The attack appears to have been executed by hardened and well-trained fighters who may have received instructions at a training facility overseas, or locally in France," according to Bill Roggio, managing editor of The Long War Journal, a publication of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a Washington DC-based research organization. "The attackers may also be ex-military," he said.

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