Monday’s Channel 4 News featured an interview with three Parisians, one of whom was at the Bataclan on the night of November 13, 2015.

The interviewer asked the Bataclan survivor if he thought the terrorists were attacking culture. He replied, ‘No, not at all’.

He wants to think the best of everyone, but as my November 16 post explains that IS believes Westerners to be polytheistic, theologically and materially:

… for IS:

the elites of Daech include in this ‘polytheism’ the cult of ‘tribal idols’ — celebrities, media, athletes — as well as ‘idols of the marketplace’, among which consumer consumption is the primary example, and, finally, those ‘idols of the theatre’ …

The Telegraph has a thorough and chilling report of what happened at the Bataclan that fateful Friday the 13th.

Some survivors, such as the man Channel 4 interviewed, were held hostage and could not escape until shortly after midnight, even though the terrorists had started firing at 21:40.

The operation must have been interminable for concertgoers. However, police had to handle the situation carefully, as they did the Hyper Casher stand-off in Vincennes on Friday, January 9, 2015.

Timeline

The Bataclan, a beautiful structure styled like a pagoda, was built in the late 19th century and has several side rooms and false ceilings. Outside of the main entrance, it has only two side exits, both on one side of the building. Whilst some survivors were able to access the exits, those watching the Eagles of Death Metal show upstairs were trapped. Incidentally, the pregnant lady hanging from the upstairs windowsill in an attempt to escape the terrorists was rescued by a man named Sébastien who pulled her back inside.

The first policeman entered the theatre at 22:00, 20 minutes after the terrorists attacked. The officer killed one of the three, whose suicide bomb exploded.

At 22:15, two units of elite police entered the theatre — anti-terrorist and hostage unit officers. Some took their positions around the building and others told survivors lying on the floor that they could leave.

At 23:00, the hostage unit officers split into two groups and went upstairs. They located survivors and told them to leave.

However, in the meantime, the two surviving terrorists had taken 20 hostages, holding them upstairs behind closed doors in one of the side rooms. It took some time for police to persuade the terrorists to give them a phone number for them to begin negotiations. The terrorists finally agreed, but used one of the hostages to liaise between them and the police. That was at 23:15.

A short time later, at 23:27, the terrorists told police that if they did not leave, they would start beheading the hostages. Four further telephone calls led to nothing.

At 00:20, the senior policeman at the theatre ordered an assault on the terrorists. The terrorists used hostages as human shields. The police put a heavy-duty shield in front of themselves and began firing at the terrorists. They also used stun grenades and smoke bombs. One of the bullets hit one of the terrorists, at which point his suicide vest blew up. He and the other attacker died.

The battle of the Bataclan had finally ended.

What they said

Whilst concert-goers tried frantically to hide in the midst of the dead and injured, one of the terrorists spoke out:

Do you hear their cries, their suffering? It’s to make you feel the fear that the people in Syria feel every day.

When police entered the theatre, they noticed the silence, punctuated only by dozens of mobile phones ringing.

Officers recalled the scene:

“When we went in, it was really dark. There were dozens of bodies lying on top of each other on the ground, the dead, the injured, the survivors who were pretending to be dead,” a policeman identified only as Jean told the TF1 television channel.

“It was like Dante’s Inferno,” another officer told Le Monde. The smell was unbearable, the silence appalling, he said.

Incidentally, the RAID officers present had also been on the scene at Hyper Casher in January.

Jean, the aforementioned police officer, told TF1 what the survivor situation was like upstairs at 23:00:

They came out like zombies. They were in a terrible state and could hardly walk.

Meanwhile, downstairs, a medical emergency chain was being set up in anticipation to a bloody end to the horror.

The police checked everything upstairs when they arrived at the last door. They heard the voice of the hostage used as the terrorists’ intermediary. Jean said:

He shouted out that the terrorists were there and that if we opened the door they would blow everything up.

Sébastien, the hostage who rescued the pregnant woman, was among those being held by the terrorists. Of that experience, he said:

They asked us if we agreed with them. I’ll let you imagine the lingering silence of that moment. The most timid nodded their heads and the most daring said ‘Yes.’

They asked us to serve as look outs, to yell at the police to stay back and that if not they would blow up their explosive vests.

He added:

They took out a wad of 50-euro bills and I had to burn them. The other hostages thanked me for not trying to be a hero. The real heroes are dead, they died protecting others.

At one point, Sébastien remarked that he was cold and wanted to put on a shirt. One of the terrorists said that Sébastien

was starting to annoy him.

The officer negotiating with the terrorists was the same who negotiated with Amedy Coulibaly at Hyper Casher.

Jean, who was also there, explained:

They didn’t want to free the hostages. They said get out or we will shoot and we will decapitate the hostages.

They also threatened to start throwing hostages out the window.

The denouement occurred at 00:20. The Telegraph describes the scene:

With no progress in the negotiations, the Paris police chief ordered his officers to storm the narrow, 30ft corridor where the terrorists and hostages were. After bursting open the door, the police threw in half a dozen stun and smoke grenades, then advanced in pairs behind a thick metal shield on wheels, called a Ramses.

“As soon as the door was open the terrorists opened fire… the shield alone took about 30 bullets from their Kalashnikovs. The hostages were screaming, throwing themselves on the ground, hugging the walls,” said Jean.

“Each time a pair of officers got past a hostage, the rest of the team would pull them out of there.”

After all the hostages were evacuated – miraculously, no-one was injured – the police officers reached the end of the corridor and fired on the killers with HKG36 assault rifles.

One attacker went down, and then the other detonated his suicide vest, killing them both.

The assault had lasted three minutes.

What a three minutes that must have been for hostages and police.

Later, when detectives arrived to search the area around the Bataclan, they found the grey Volkswagen Polo with Belgian plates that witnesses had reported. Looking inside, they found a parking ticket, from the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek.

The Guardian reported that the Molenbeek connection meant that police now knew that IS were behind the attacks and, unfortunately, that intelligence services should have seen this coming.

Extremists in Molenbeek had been connected to the most horrifying attacks this century: the Madrid bombings in 2003 and the Thalys train attack in August 2015, among them.

More about Molenbeek in another post.

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