EU, US ministers talk joint action against jihadist attack threat

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The ministerial-level meeting is convened by French Interior Minister
Bernard Cazeneuve, who was at the forefront of this week’s response to a
series of attacks and hostage-takings by the three French Islamist
gunmen

TO SAFETY. French gendarmes stand by as children are evacuated from a school in Dammartin-en-Goele, north-east of Paris, where two brothers suspected of slaughtering 12 people in an Islamist attack on French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo held one person hostage as police cornered the gunmen, on January 9, 2015. Dominique Faget/AFP

TO
SAFETY. French gendarmes stand by as children are evacuated from a
school in Dammartin-en-Goele, north-east of Paris, where two brothers
suspected of slaughtering 12 people in an Islamist attack on French
satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo held one person hostage as police
cornered the gunmen, on January 9, 2015. Dominique Faget/AFP
PARIS, France – EU and US security ministers met at France’s interior
ministry on Sunday, January 11, to work out a joint response to the
threat of jihadist attacks following days of carnage in Paris by three
gunmen claiming to act on behalf of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State
group.

The gathering was being held just hours ahead of a massive public rally in Paris against terrorism that was to be attended by dozens of world leaders.

US Attorney General Eric Holder was the first to arrive at the
interior ministry. The interior ministers and senior officials from many
European countries, including Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland,
Denmark and Sweden, were to attend, as well as from Canada.

A US Justice Department official said ahead of the meeting that it
“will include discussions on addressing terrorist threats, foreign
fighters and countering violent extremism.”

The ministerial-level meeting was convened by French Interior
Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who was at the forefront of this week’s
response to a series of attacks and hostage-takings by the three French
Islamist gunmen.

On Wednesday, two of the gunmen, brothers of Algerian descent, Cherif
and Said Kouachi, massacred much of the staff of the Paris satirical
weekly Charlie Hebdo.

As a massive manhunt was under way for them, the next day another
gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, who was connected to the other two, killed a
policewoman in a southern suburb of Paris.

Events came to a head on Friday when the brothers were trapped in a printing firm near Paris, and Coulibaly stormed a Jewish supermarket in the capital, killing four inside.

Twin assaults by French commandos resulted in the deaths of the three gunmen.

Before their deaths, Cherif Kouachi and Coulibaly spoke to a French
television channel, BFMTV. Kouachi said he was part of Al-Qaeda in
Yemen, and had travelled to Yemen in 2011 for training, while Coulibaly
claimed he belonged to a rival jihadist outfit, the Islamic State group,
but had coordinated his attacks with those of the brothers.

The French government has admitted to shortcomings in its
surveillance of the gunmen, who had criminal records and were known
Muslim radicals.

Sunday’s meeting was expected to address ways in which Western
countries can head off future such jihadist violence on their soil.

The German newspaper Bild said Sunday that US intelligence had
intercepted communications in which Islamic State leaders said the Paris
attacks were just the prelude for a wave of Islamist violence in
Europe.

It also reported that the Kouachi brothers had contacts in The Netherlands.

Paris was placed on its highest level of alert for terror attacks
after Wednesday’s Charlie Hebdo massacre, and authorities are
maintaining that for the time being.

French President Francois Hollande warned on Friday, in a speech
after the three gunmen were killed, that his country “has not finished
with the threats” from jihadists.

He called for the public to remain vigilant in the face of the threat, and for a broad mobilisation to counter it. – Rappler.com

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