France is commemorating the fifth anniversary of the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, as the country is once again on the highest security alert against Islamic terrorism.
On the night of Nov. 13, 2015, three teams of suicide bombers and gunmen launched coordinated attacks on multiple targets in Paris, hitting bars, restaurants, the national stadium, and the Bataclan concert hall, leaving 130 people dead and hundreds more injured, in what became France’s deadliest ever peacetime attack.
The ISIS terrorist group claimed responsibility for the atrocities, saying that it was retaliation for French airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Friday paid tribute to the victims of the attacks.
At the Stade de France, where the attack began with suicide blasts outside the stadium during a football match attended by then-President Francois Hollande, he laid a wreath of flowers at the foot of a wall.
The public could not join this year’s commemorations because of France’s partial lockdown due to the CCP virus pandemic.
France has suffered a series of Islamic terrorist attacks in recent weeks. On Oct. 29, a 21-year-old Tunisian man shouting “Allahu akbar” allegedly beheaded an elderly woman and killed two other people in a church in the southern French city of Nice.
On Oct. 16, French history teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in broad daylight outside his school near Paris by a teenage Chechen refugee, after he used caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in a class on freedom of expression.
"We face a double-edged threat: from outside, people sent from abroad, and a grave internal threat, people who are amongst us, our enemies within. Those threats are increasing," France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told franceinfo radio.
Most of the culprits in the November 2015 attack were home-grown terrorists from Muslim communities in France and Belgium.
The radicalization of young Muslims has become a serious social and security issue plaguing multiple European countries.
On Nov. 2, Kujtim Fejzulai, a 20-year-old dual citizen of Austria and North Macedonia, fired at crowds at six different locations in Vienna, killing four people and wounding 22, before he was shot dead by police.
On Nov. 6, a teacher in the Netherlands was forced into hiding after some students objected to a political cartoon concerning Islam displayed in his classroom. An 18-year-old girl was detained on suspicion that she posted a message on social media that “incited others to commit crimes" directed at the teacher and the school.
In Belgium, two teenagers aged 16 and 17 who had pledged allegiance to ISIS were arrested on Oct. 31 on suspicion of planning a stabbing attack against police officers.
Earlier this month, French police questioned four 10-year-old schoolchildren after they openly voiced support for the beheading of Samuel Paty and said they would kill their own teacher if he did the same.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.