- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A State Department chronology of the Nov. 13 Islamic State attacks in Paris shows the terrorists were as inept as they were skilled killers.

Working in three teams, the three-man unit assigned to wreak carnage at the Germany-France soccer match detonated three suicide bombs and killed exactly one innocent. They undoubtedly expected to kill hundreds.

They apparently arrived late, after the match was underway, missing a chance to kill people crowding around the gates to Stade de France.

Security personnel would not let at least one bomber inside, and from 9:20 p.m. to 9:53 p.m., the three terrorists resorted to igniting their belt bombs in haste. One moved away from the stadium, apparently looking for the best spot for mass murder, or perhaps he was being pursued. He moved toward a McDonald’s. Thirty-three minutes after the first explosion, the bomber blew himself up, killing no one but himself.

The chronology was compiled by the Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council, which helps American businesses abroad deal with security threats.

Its report has a sobering bottom line for France, where the Muslim population has grown to as much as 8 percent of the population and where the prime minister said in January that the country lives with “ethnic apartheid.” The stark words came after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, in which the Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS, had a hand.

“ISIL is expected to continue to pose a threat to French national security,” the State Department report says. “While French authorities have cracked down on suspected extremists following the November 13 attacks, and may well implement new legislation to curb the threat, they are unlikely to eradicate extremism.”

The report adds, “ISIL stated that the November 13 attacks were just the beginning of a storm and continues to demonstrate an intent to target the West. Western gains against the group in Syria and Iraq and the intensification of French air strikes against the group may inspire retaliation. It has been assessed before that significant losses for ISIL in its ‘caliphate’ may prompt ISIL to dedicate resources to attacks overseas.”

The report divided the eight attackers into three groups: The “yellow” team went to the stadium, the “orange” team attacked restaurants and bars, and the “red” group hit the Bataclan concert hall.

Of the stadium attackers, one was identified as 20-year-old Bilal Hadfi, a criminal who had resided in Belgium and is believed to have traveled to Syria, where Islamic State maintains its headquarters in the city of Raqqa.

His self-destruction, and those of his two partners, killed one innocent and wounded dozens.

A former CIA operative, who asked not to be named because he still does intelligence work, believes their failure points out the fact the attackers did not come up with a brilliant plan. To this expert, it came down to guys with guns and bombs who went after relatively easy targets.

“The attacks in Paris were opening shots in the new Western front for ISIS,” the source said. “Rather than being the highly coordinated and well-planned attack that commentators are making it out to be, it was a fairly low-cost and easily executed operation against soft targets.”

The ex-officer added, “It is only a question of time until a similar set of attacks takes place here at some public venue, whether a shopping center, sports event, concert or parade. It is a wonder that more attacks like the Boston Marathon” have not occurred, he said.

The orange team targeted four restaurants/bars, killing 39. A bomber detonated his bomb belt at the Comptoir Voltaire restaurant, killing only himself.

The red team’s assignment was the concert hall, packed with about 1,500 fans. The three began their massacre about 30 minutes after the first bomb went off at the stadium. By the time two terrorists blew themselves up and one was killed by French security at 12:20 a.m., they had killed 89 concertgoers.

One attacker, Samy Amimour, was a French national believed to have traveled to Syria in 2013.

If true, the French nightmare scenario — Muslims traveling to Syria, training in how to kill and returning to France — has come true. More than 1,000 French nationals are believed to have gone to Syria to join Islamic State.

Said the State Department advisory committee: “The numbers demonstrate the propensity that some communities in France have toward radicalization. One reason why returned foreign fighters are a concern is because they come back with combat and weapon’s training. The November 13 attacks stand out among recent attacks in Europe, because the terrorists had suicide vests, which require skill and experience to make.”

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