News Roundup and Notes: November 16, 2015

Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.

PARIS ATTACKS

Paris was hit by a series of coordinated terrorist attacks on Friday night, leaving 129 people dead in the worst attack on French soil since World War II. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in retaliation for French military action in Iraq and Syria. [France 24] The attacks, which targeted bars, restaurants, a concert hall and the Stade de France, were planned from Syria, according to French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. [BBC] It is possible that the attacks were planned in coordination with another extremist group, a US official has said. [The Daily Beast’s Kimberley Dozier]

Belgian man Abdelhamid Abaaoud may have been the mastermind behind Friday’s attacks; Abaaoud is currently in Syria and believed to be an active ISIS operator. [Reuters] 

French authorities carried out counterterrorism raids across the country early today, reportedly arresting at least nine people and seizing weapons. [The Guardian’s Ben Doherty] A search is currently underway for “the eighth man” in the Paris attacks, French authorities last night issuing an appeal for information on Belgian national Salah Abdeslam. [France 24] As many as 20 plotters may have been involved in the attack, French authorities have learned. [Washington Post’s Anthony Faiola and Souad Mekhennet]

For live updates as the situation continues to develop, check out the BBC, France 24, the Guardian and the New York Times.

France carried out major airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Raqqa, Syria last night. Ten aircraft dropped 20 bombs on ISIS facilities, the French Defense Ministry said. The strikes took place in coordination with US defense officials. [Washington Post’s David Nakamura and Karen DeYoung; New York Times’ Alissa J. Rubin and Anne Bernard] Shane Harris et al ask whether the expanded campaign inside of Syria will be “any more than an act of vengeance” for the French, at The Daily Beast.

Is it lawful for states to engage in expanded military action against the Islamic State? Paul Farrell explores the international law applicable, at the Guardian.

The US conducted strikes today against oil trucks used by ISIS to smuggle crude oil produced in Syria, US officials said. [New York Times’ Michael R. Gordon]

Establishing a sustained US response to the attacks is expected to challenge the Obama administration, which again ruled out the introduction of substantial numbers of US ground troops. [New York Times’ Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker]

Global response. President Obama described the attacks as an “outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians,” adding that it was an “attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.” The UN and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the terrorist attacks as “despicable.” [UN News Centre] German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that “our life of freedom is stronger than terror,” pledging a unified response with the French on Saturday. [New York Times]

The UK is to increase its security spending in the wake of the Paris attacks and other international terror attacks, making provisions for 1,900 extra security and intelligence staff. [The Guardian’s Patrick Wintour] British Prime Minister David Cameron warned that an attempt to conduct a similar attack in the UK was “highly likely.” [The Independent]

G20 summit. World leaders pledged a strong response to Friday’s attacks, including an increase in airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, intelligence sharing and measures to bolster border security. Carol E. Lee et al provide the details at the Wall Street Journal. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for greater coordination in international efforts to tackle terrorism, during the G20 gathering yesterday in Antalya. [Wall Street Journal’s Emre Peker] And UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon emphasized that while the international response to terrorism needs to be robust, it must always be within the rule of law and with respect for human rights. [UN News Centre]

Russia’s role in Syria. World leaders gathered at the summit urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to reassess his country’s involvement in Syria, emphasizing Moscow’s shared interest in bringing the civil war to an end. [The Guardian’s Patrick Wintour] President Obama and President Putin met for a 35-minute unscheduled meeting on the sidelines of the summit to discuss the situation. [Reuters]

The Paris attacks have changed the direction of the debate in the presidential campaign, shifting the focus of the 2016 race onto national security. Jonathan Martin provides the details at the New York Times.

Refugee crisis. The rhetoric around the flow of migrants into Europe has “shifted sharply to security over compassion” after Friday’s attacks, heightened by the discovery of a Syrian passport near the scene of a suicide bombing. [New York Times’ Rick Lyman and Alison Smale] Simon Nixon writes that despite the European crisis over migration and terrorism, forces continue to drive Europe’s nations together rather than apart. [Wall Street Journal]

The Obama administration’s commitment to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the US will continue despite the attacks, White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said yesterday. [The Hill’s Bradford Richardson]

Beirut “feels forgotten” in the wake of the Paris attacks; the Lebanese capital suffered a double suicide attack on Thursday, killing 40, Anne Bernard reports. [New York Times] Lebanese authorities have arrested nine individuals, most of them Syrian nationals. [Al Jazeera]

Media weighs in. The New York Times editorial board observes that “pouring fuel on the passions swirling around refugees and Muslims in Europe was no doubt a major goal” behind the attack. The Wall Street Journal editorial board calls on President Obama to “wake up,” adding that he needs an “epiphany if he doesn’t want to be remembered as the President who allowed radical Islam to spread and prosper.” And the Washington Post editorial board opines that the “West gains nothing if it sacrifices the rule of law,” encouraging France to learn from America’s mistakes in the first stages of its war against al-Qaeda post-9/11.

President Obama must “wage war on the Islamic State, not merely harass it,” writes Mitt Romney in an op-ed at the Washington Post.

The New York Times hosts a “moment by moment” account of the attacks on Friday night.

GUANTÁNAMO BAY 

Five Yemeni detainees at Guantánamo Bay detention facility in Cuba were released on Friday night to resettle in the UAE. None of the prisoners had ever been charged with a crime. [Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg]

The resettlement was the first of its kind to the UAE. Charlie Savage provides further details at the New York Times.

Moving Guantánamo detainees to the US will not stop the policy of indefinite detention, a situation fostering “an unusual alliance” between President Obama’s critics in Congress and civil liberties organizations such as Amnesty International and the ACLU. [AP’s Deb Riechmann]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS 

The US conducted an airstrike against a senior operative for ISIS in Libya, defense officials said Saturday. It is the first attack on the militant group by the US outside of Iraq and Syria. [Wall Street Journal’s Gordon Lubold] 

Tensions between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the country’s hardliners over the nuclear accord with six world powers are worsening, “punctuated by public exchanges and growing signs of an anti-American backlash, including arrests,” report Rick Gladstone and Thomas Erdbrink. [New York Times]

If ISIS really was responsible for downing the Russian airliner over Eypt’s Sinai, it would be the first clear indication that the “group’s unprecedented levels of wealth, power and territory are turning it into a base for global terrorist operations,” writes Mokhtar Awad at the Washington Post.

Morocco has arrested four individuals suspected of ties to a militant cell linked to the Islamic State. [Reuters]

Israeli authorities arrested a Palestinian man accused of carrying out a fatal drive-by shooting in the West Bank, officials said, adding that the suspect’s father had informed on him in the hopes of avoiding the demolition of their family home. [New York Times’ Isabel Kershner]

More than 15 Sudanese migrants were shot and killed attempting to cross the Egyptian border into Israel early yesterday, possibly by Egyptian authorities, security officials and news reports say. [New York Times’ Kareem Fahim and Merna Thomas]

Militant group Boko Haram has lost a considerable amount of territory in northern Nigeria, however the group is still carrying out suicide attacks and other targeted attacks throughout the region, reports Dionne Searcey. [New York Times]

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon may meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un this week during a visit to Pyongyang, the South Korean Yonhap news agency reported. [AP] 

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About the Author(s)

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security