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November 16, 2015

France searches for answers to Paris attacks


The city of Paris is trying to come to terms with a series of violent attacks on a scale France has not seen since World War II.

The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for Friday night’s shootings and suicide bombings which killed as many as 129 people.  French President Francois Hollande called the attacks an “act of war” and announced major French bombing against ISIS targets in Syria over the weekend.

Europe remains on high alert as police search for Salah Abdeslam, a Belgian-born 26-year-old who authorities believe rented a car which was seen outside the Bataclan concert hall, the music venue where at least 80 people died. Abdeslam is one of three brothers thought to be involved in the rampage. One brother died in the attack and another brother has been arrested in Belgium.

Authorities continue to investigate another suicide bomber who died in the attacks and was found carrying a Syrian passport that had been stamped in Greece and Serbia in October. Several hundred thousand Syrian refugees fleeing civil war and ISIS in their own country have passed through Greece and Serbia this year.

French Senator Joelle Garriaud Maylam said the fact that this individual made it into France was a major failure of intelligence services. “We can’t check every inch of these borders, but we have to be much more careful in checking the identity of every person who comes through,” Maylam said.

As France continues to search for suspects, mourners in Paris are experiencing a mixture of sadness and anger over the attacks. NewsHour Anchor Hari Sreenivasan said a larger conversation about helping refugees and ensuring national security needs to take place as France and the world move forward.


ISIS — stands for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a militant group that first rose to prominence in 2014 by taking over portions of Iraq and Syria with the goal of creating a new caliphate

terrorism — the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims

refugee — a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution or natural disaster

Warm up questions
  1. Who is ISIS and what are their goals?
  2. What happened in Paris, France on Friday?
  3. What other major issue taking place in Europe right now is likely to be impacted by these attacks?
Critical thinking questions
  1. Why is the fact that one of the suspected attackers held a Syrian passport significant?
  2. Do you think what happened in Paris is likely to influence policy in regard to refugees in the coming months? In what way?
  3. What should the French government do in response to the attacks? What about its allies in Europe and the United States?
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