Football and racism in Britain

This 2010 video is called Kick It Out of Football – Racism.

By Kadeem Simmonds in Britain:

SIMMONDS SPEAKS: Did people really think racism disappeared?

Wednesday 25th February 2015

Football still has a problem and it never went away, says KADEEM SIMMONDS

As fans filled in to Stamford Bridge last Saturday for the match against Burnley, a video was played on the big screen. It was an anti-racism clip that had to be shown as a reminder that racism will not be tolerated at the club.

It followed the racist attack on French-Mauritian Souleymane S in Paris a fortnight ago.

As Souleymane attempted to board a Paris Metro train on his way home from work, a group of Chelsea supporters — in France for that night’s Champions League tie against Paris St Germain — shoved him off and chanted: “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it.”

A nation-wide hunt for the supporters began the following morning and by the weekend a few of them had been named and shamed, including Richard Barklie, an ex-Royal Ulster Constabulary and Police Service of Northern Ireland officer and currently a director at human organisation the World Human Rights Forum.

The World Human Rights Forum should be careful that Mr Barklie’s behaviour will not make them look as fake as the Qatari dictorial government-founded Qatari National Human Rights Committee, or the Afghan (so called) Independent Human Rights Commission.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho used his Friday press conference to say he was “ashamed,” while owner Roman Abramovich was “disgusted” and offered Souleymane a ticket to the second leg of the match at Stamford Bridge.

Souleymane turned down the offer and who could blame him? He isn’t a fan of the sport and after what happened to him, why would he want to spend an evening with Chelsea supporters?

The whole incident has brought racism back to the forefront of the game but it has always been there.

If the public thought racism had left football before the attack in Paris a fortnight ago they are wrong.

You only have to look at the comments Stan Collymore gets when he tweets or what other black players are called on social media.

If what happened to Souleymane wasn’t caught on video no-one would have known about it. It may be cynical of me but there is probably evidence of racism up and down the country at football grounds every weekend.

Following Sunday’s 2-2 draw between Tottenham and West Ham a video was uploaded of alleged West Ham fans chanting vile anti-semitic chants and called Spurs fans “fucking Jews.”

The fact that an organisation like Kick It Out is still around shows that the problem is one that needs to be addressed.

I don’t want everyone working there to be out of a job but it would be great if football didn’t need a group to stamp racism out of the game.

But it does because the Football Association, Fifa and Uefa are not taking the problem seriously enough and when they say they do it’s a bold face lie.

The next World Cup is being held in Russia, where the fans are notorously racist and there have been cases this season of fans of Russian teams competing in the season’s Champions League acting in a racist manner, forcing the teams to play their matches behind closed doors.

But has Fifa stripped them of the World Cup? Of course not.

Were they to be kicked out of the tournament until they cleaned up their racism problem, it would send a clear message that it will no longer be tolerated.

But let’s not ignore the fact that Britain needs to stop pointing the finger at other countries’ racist supporters and attempt to sort out its own fans.

Black players are not hounded and villified as badly as they were a few decades ago but there has been more than one occasion over the past few seasons where black players have scored in the Premier League and fans have made monkey gestures.

For too long the FA has acted like it sorted out the racism on the terraces but it hasn’t. Small pockets of fans continue to behave in a racist manner, proving it is still well and truly alive.

Alyson Rudd from The Times and the FA have patted themselves on the back over the past few days and tried to act like this “incident” shows how far football has come. But it is has not come far enough in my opinion.

And as for Chelsea. While they can act disgusted and condemn the racist attackers, that wasn’t the club’s stance in 2012 when captain John Terry was banned for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.

Twitter was awash with jokes after the incident, most along the lines of Chelsea had banned three suporters for racist language and handed a fourth a new contract and made him captain.

While this is no laughing matter, the London side are made to look like a joke considering the way they have handled issues of racism in the past.

I find it difficult to watch Chelsea continue to be applauded for the way they are handling this case when they dealt with the Terry one so appallingly.

They allowed the former England defender to continue playing which basically sent out the message: “Racism is wrong unless you’re a good player and we need you, in which case we will sweep it under the carpet and hope it never gets brought up again.”

Queens Park Rangers’ caretaker boss Chris Ramsey put it best yesterday when he said:“Racism in football has been parked, not eliminated.”

THE British Transport Police (BTP) yesterday released pictures of seven men in relation to racist chanting a day after Souleymane S was shoved off the Paris Metro in France. The men, believed to be Chelsea fans, were allegedly chanting racist songs at St Pancras International station in London: here.

Chelsea were pleading with their fans yesterday to keep the atmosphere at Wembley “positive” with worries that there could be anti-semitic chanting at the League Cup final. With Tottenham’s links to London’s Jewish community and Blues fans in the past chanting anti-semitic songs — something the club have admitted — the Blues are reminding fans of the responsibility they have to the club: here.

RACISM is widespread in English football with police having to deal with hundreds of incidents from the top of the game right down to grassroots level, new research revealed yesterday: here.

Racist English football hooligan ‘UKIP supporter’

Chelsea fan Josh Parsons with Nigel Farage

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Chelsea fan in Paris Métro video posed in picture with Nigel Farage

Josh Parsons, identified as one of the fans filmed on a Paris Métro train ahead of the Chelsea – PSG match, is allegedly a ‘vocal’ Ukip supporter

Elena Cresci and Shiv Malik

Thursday 19 February 2015 11.22 GMT

A Chelsea fan filmed while racist chants were shouted on the Paris Métro was a “vocal” supporter of Ukip, even posing with the party’s leader, Nigel Farage.

A photo posted by season ticket holder Josh Parsons on his Instagram account around four months ago shows Farage, drink in hand, next to the 21-year-old named as one of the Chelsea fans on the Paris subway. The caption underneath the photo reads: “UKIP BOYS! What a geezer.”

Parsons has since taken down his Instagram account, as well as his Facebook and Twitter profiles, after he was named by a number of sources as appearing in the video published by the Guardian on Tuesday.

Ukip has told the Guardian that Parsons is not a member of the party and that it had “never heard of him”, adding that the photo was taken outside a London pub.

In a statement, the party’s head of press, Gawain Towler, said: “Mr Farage is photographed with and by dozens of people, both by supporters and opponents on a daily basis.

“Ukip and Mr Farage find the behaviour of the suspected Chelsea fans on the Paris Métro to be disgraceful, and shames both the country and Chelsea football club.

“We are delighted that the identities of these people are being revealed, and that they will face the full force of the law.”

Wearing a black hooded jacket, Parsons can be seen in the Paris video after those around him appear to have chanted: “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it.”

It is unclear from the video whether Parsons was among those chanting or remonstrating with a black commuter, who had been earlier pushed from a carriage.

One former schoolmate, who did not wished to be named, said Parsons and his younger brother Beno, who he believes was in the same Paris Métro carriage as Josh on Tuesday night, were well known Ukip supporters during their time at Millfield private school over a year-and-a-half ago.

The boarding school, based in Street, Somerset, charges fees of £30,000 a year.

“I was never really friends with them. The interesting thing was they were very strong Ukip supporters,” the schoolmate told the Guardian.

He said both brothers were part of a very small but “vocal” Ukip crowd at the school.

“They were … only about four or five people but they made themselves heard. They were never aggressive, they were never forcing it down your throat … but you were left with no illusions looking at their social media that they were a) Chelsea fans and b) Ukip supporters.”

He said he “despised” racism and described the actions on the film as appalling, adding that it in no way represented the views of most people at his former school.

Mitchell McCoy, a 17-year-old Chelsea fan who was also on the train, has spoken to a number of media outlets defending the incident, claiming there was no racism involved. He told LBC: “The carriage was full up, there was no room for him to get on and he tried to force himself on. He was really aggressive, pushing himself. I’d say it was self defence, pushing him off.”

Asked whether the pushing and chanting were connected, he said: “No of course it wasn’t connected. The press are trying to make something out of nothing.”

At the time of the incident, McCoy sent a number of tweets which he later deleted, including one which read: “Our captain is a racist a racist a racist and that is why we love him we love him we love him.” In replies to other tweeters, he claimed people in the video were his friends and that the fans weren’t “letting white people on either”.

McCoy was unavailable for comment.

On Wednesday, Chelsea condemned the supporters involved and said their behaviour was “abhorrent and has no place in football or society”. The club added they were supporting any criminal action against the fans involved.

The man pushed from the train gave an interview to Le Parisien, published on Thursday morning. Named only as Souleymane S, he said he “understood very well that they were targeting me because of the colour of my skin”.

He added: “These people, these English fans should be found, punished and locked up. What happened should not go unpunished.”

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Mr Parsons is a former pupil at the £30,000-a-year Millfield public school and is now an assistant at the Business and Commercial Finance Club in Mayfair.

Chelsea fans who shouted racist chants at London station sought by police. Incident in St Pancras station on Wednesday night involved fans returning from France, the day after Chelsea supporters assaulted a black man on Paris Métro: here.

Video footage has emerged of a group of men, thought to be West Ham fans, chanting anti-Semitic abuse on a train in north London: here.

Racism and football in Britain: here.

Russell Brand: Let’s kick cold profiteering out of football, along with racism: here.

A significant proportion of the 6,500 complaints made about a controversial film imagining the early days of a Ukip government were the result of an orchestrated campaign by a far-right group known for its paramilitary style actions, the Guardian has learned. Britain First, which leads “Christian patrols” through areas with high Muslim populations and has staged mosque “invasions”, encouraged supporters to sign a templated email to both Channel 4 and Ofcom to complain about Ukip: The First 100 Days.

English racist football hooligans caught on video

This video, recorded in France, says about itself:

Racist Chelsea Fans Prevent Black Man Boarding Paris Metro Train

18 February 2015

Racist Chelsea fans prevent black man boarding Paris metro train

Chelsea has announced it will ban fans filmed pushing a black metro passenger off of a train in Paris yesterday.

The sickening moment showed the fans repeatedly stopping the man boarding the train before breaking out into a racist song.

The shocking footage, published by the Guardian, was recorded in the city last night as the Blues drew 1-1 in their Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain.

In it, the passenger can be seen pushed off the train as he looks to board the carriage.

Fans then break out into a chant of “We’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it”.

Chelsea condemned the actions of those involved through a statement published hours after the incident took place, saying it will issue bans to any of its fans found to have been a part of this.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Chelsea condemn fans who pushed black man off Paris Métro

• Video footage shows fans manhandling man on train before PSG game
• Supporters chant: ‘We’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it’
• Chelsea vow to ban any season-ticket holders or members involved

Chelsea have strongly condemned a group of their supporters who have been caught on video singing a racist song and preventing a black man from boarding the Paris Métro.

The footage, obtained exclusively by the Guardian, shows the man repeatedly trying to squeeze on to a busy train only to be forcefully shoved out of the door and back on to the platform at the Richelieu – Drouot station before Chelsea’s Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain at Parc des Princes. The fans on the train are then heard chanting a song that appears to be celebrating what has just happened and includes the line: “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it” while a black woman is standing directly in front of them.

Chelsea football club urges fans to help find racists seen in Paris Métro footage: here.

See also here.

Charlie Hebdo, hypocritical ‘solidarity’ by free speech violators

This video from France says about itself:

9 January 2015

Front National head Marine Le Pen arrived at the Elysée Palace in Paris, Friday for a meeting with French President Francois Hollande and other party leaders. They are due to discuss the recent massacre at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and subsequent manhunt for the killers.

If there is one person which French President Hollande should not have included in consultations or in ‘solidarity’ after the terrible violence against the Charlie Hebdo magazine people, then it is Ms Le Pen, abusing this tragedy for advocating her plans to make France a racist dictatorship and to make it the only country in the world, after Saudi Arabia, with the death penalty by beheading.

There are some more cases, a bit similar to Ms Le Pen in this.

From Twitter messages by Daniel Wickham in Britain today:

So here are some of the staunch defenders of the free press attending the solidarity rally in Paris today..

1) King Abdullah of Jordan, which last year sentenced a Palestinian journalist to 15 years in prison with hard labour

2) Prime Minister … Davutoglu of Turkey, which imprisons more journalists than any other country in the world

3) Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, whose forced killed 7 journalists in Gaza last yr (second highest after Syria)

4) Foreign Minister Shoukry of Egypt, which as well as A[l] J[azeera] staff has detained journalist Shawkan for around 500 days

7) The Foreign Minister of the UAE, which in 2013 held a journo incommunicado for a month on suspicion of MB links

9) The PMs of Georgia and Bulgaria, both of whom have a record of attacking & beating journos

10) The Attorney General of the US, where police in Ferguson have recently detained and assaulted Wash[ington] Post reporters

11) Prime Minister Samaras of Greece, where riot police beat & injured two journalists at a protest in June last year

12) Sec-Gen of NATO, who are yet to be held to account for deliberately bombing and killing 16 Serbian journos in ’99

13) President Keita of Mali, where journalists are expelled for covering human rights abuses

14) The Foreign Minister of Bahrain, 2nd biggest jailer of journos in the world per capita (they also torture them)

15) Sheikh Mohamed Ben Hamad Ben Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar, which jailed a man for 15 ys for writing the Jasmine poem

16) Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who had several journalists jailed for insulting him in 2013

18) Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Ireland, where “blasphemy” is considered a criminal offense

19) Prime Minister Kopacz of Poland, which raided a magazine to seize recordings embarrassing for the ruling party

20) PM Cameron of the UK, where authorities destroyed documents obtained by The Guardian and threatened prosecution

21) Saudi ambassador to France. The Saudis publicly flogged blogger for “insulting Islam” on Friday

There were some unlikely “Charlies” on today’s march for democracy and freedom – and the presence of leaders of countries known for repressing freedom of speech caused consternation among left-wing commentators and human-rights groups in France: here. And here. And here. And here.

Anderson Cooper: Paris world leader march was bogus, but Obama or Biden should have gone: here.

Paris shooting: JK Rowling condemns Rupert Murdoch over tweet blaming all Muslims for Charlie Hebdo deaths: here.

Charlie Hebdo shooting: Hamyd Mourad ‘in shock’ after wrongly linked to attack on newspaper: here.

The brutal assassination in Paris of the staff of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo led to expressions of grief and shock in Germany. Immediately, after news of this became known, a few hundred people gathered in front of the French embassy at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. They laid flowers and lit candles as a sign of solidarity and grief. For its part, the political establishment and media immediately exploited this widespread outrage for their own extremely reactionary political goals. This is presently concentrated on two demands: first, the call for the unity of all political parties and, secondly, the need for strengthening the security apparatus through the development of the intelligence agencies, an increased police presence and rearming at home and abroad: here.

Tens of thousands of people braved the elements in the eastern city of Dresden at the weekend to march in opposition to Islamophobia, calling for “open-mindedness and humanity.” They gathered in front of the city’s Frauenkirche (Cathedral of our Dear Lady) to condemn sentiments of xenophobia and racism that have been evident across many German cities in recent weeks stirred up by rallies organised by Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida): here.

The dehumanisation of Muslims became an essential weapon in the wars of Western governments, writes Ramzy Baroud. It is still not about Islam, even if the media and militants attacking Western targets say so. Actually, it never was. But it was important for many to conflate politics with religion, partly because it is convenient and self-validating: here.

From Afghan and Iraq wars to Charlie Hebdo murders

This video from the USA says about itself:

Muslims Against Terrorism

13 November 2010

In answer to the question, “Why don’t we ever hear Muslims speaking out against terrorism?”, Muslims of the Twin Cities step forward to do just that.

This was a personal project. It was not funded or sponsored in any way by any organization. Everyone in it appears as a private citizen.

Note: The following links are NOT provided for proselytizing purposes – I myself am not Muslim. They are examples of Muslims speaking out against terrorism, regardless of whether I personally agree with anything else they have to say.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Star Comment: The real roots of terrorism

Friday 9th January 2015

SHOCK, revulsion and grief are natural human reactions to the news of Wednesday’s massacre of journalists and policemen in Paris.

The Morning Star adds its voice to the many expressions of solidarity with the French people, and with the friends and families of those killed and injured.

We fully support National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet in her call for supporters of civil liberties to “stand together with governments to condemn this act and defend the right of all journalists to do their job without fear of threats, intimidation and murder.”

Nothing can excuse Wednesday’s outrage. But press headlines such as “War on freedom” and “An assault on democracy” and David Cameron’s categorisation of the events as “a challenge to our security and values” fail to deal adequately with the root cause of the attack or provide a genuine strategy for reducing the threat of future similar events.

While Charlie Hebdo was the target for this particular outrage, that did not occur in a complete vacuum.

French police claim to have thwarted five terror plots since the summer of 2013, and indeed there were a number of isolated attempts, including a knife-attack on a police station, in 2014.

All the evidence suggests that the attackers on Wednesday were French jihadists who had undergone military training.

It cannot be a coincidence that there are some 400 French fighters with Isis and similar groups in Iraq and Syria, and that Isis has explicitly called for terrorist attacks in France because of that country’s participation in air strikes in Iraq by the US-led coalition.

As we pointed out on Tuesday, the treatment of women, girls and members of non-Sunni Muslim religious minorities at the hands of Isis barbarians “is a stain on humanity that must be expunged without delay.”

But Western countries, whose sole interest is control over oil resources, are the last powers to take a leading role in this.

It must be the responsibility of local people, with any external support coming under the aegis of the United Nations.

Jihadism in the Middle East goes back to US president Ronald Reagan and his administration’s manipulation of Islamist fundamentalism to back the terror campaign of the mojahedin against the then progressive regime in Afghanistan.

Al-Qaida and the Taliban are direct consequences of that fundamentalism.

When George W Bush and Tony Blair launched the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, the Morning Star warned that this would increase the threat of jihadist attacks throughout the world, but particularly against those Western countries taking part in the wars.

We issued the same warning when the US-led coalition launched its bombing campaign against Isis.

The fundamentalism of Isis, and its military success in Iraq and Syria, flows directly from the instability created in Iraq and the sectarianism of its Western-imposed government, together with the backing given by Nato and reactionary Arab states to the armed rebellion against the secular Assad regime in Syria.

Within France, support for jihadism has been fuelled by the socioeconomic grievances of young unemployed Muslims living in impoverished suburbs.

Minimising the threat of further jihadist attacks does not lie in “anti-terror” legislation which is drawn so broadly that it can be directed against leftwingers, peace campaigners and trade unionists.

Nor will it be alleviated by Ukip leader Nigel Farage’s reference, in a Channel 4 interview, to a “fifth column” in France and Britain, and his questioning of “the whole really gross attempt at encouraged division within society that we have had in the past few decades in the name of multiculturalism.”

What is needed is unity of those of all faiths and none, withdrawal from imperialist military adventures and a rejection of the politics of austerity, in order to start building a society of genuine solidarity.

The attack on the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo has shocked the public, which is horrified by the violent deaths of 12 people in the center of Paris. The video images, viewed by millions, of the gunmen firing their weapons and killing an already-wounded policeman have imparted to Wednesday’s events an extraordinary actuality. In the immediate aftermath of the shootings, the state and media are seeking to exploit the fear and the confusion of the public. Once again, the political bankruptcy and essentially reactionary character of terrorism is exposed. It serves the interests of the state, which utilizes the opportunity provided by the terrorists to whip up support for authoritarianism and militarism. In 2003, when the Bush administration invaded Iraq, French popular opposition was so overwhelming that the government led by President Jacques Chirac was compelled to oppose the war, even in the face of massive political pressure from the United States. Now, 12 years later, as President François Hollande is striving to transform France into the United States’ principal ally in the “war on terror,” the attack in Paris plays into his hands: here.

In the aftermath of the massacre at the editorial offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, the French state has organized a massive police-military mobilization, deploying tens of thousands of officers and troops throughout Paris and northern France: here.

There is mounting evidence that the intelligence services of France and several other countries were actively tracking the two brothers named as the gunmen who carried out the massacre at the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo Wednesday. These facts raise more and more questions about how such high-profile suspects could obtain weapons and prepare what appears to have a been a highly organized and professional military assault: here.

Two brothers believed to be behind Wednesday’s attack on the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo were reportedly killed on Friday, Agence France Presse reports. See also here.

French Muslims Fear Backlash, Increased Islamophobia After Charlie Hebdo Attack: here.

Mourning the Parisian “Humorists” Yet Challenging the Hypocrisy of Western Media, by: Rabbi Michael Lerner: here.

THE SECRET ESCALATION OF THE SECRET WAR IN AFGHANISTAN Following the capture of a treasure trove of information on al Qaeda in a raid this fall, the U.S. has stealthily increased its night raids. The escalation is in sharp contrast to the picture being painted in Washington, “where the Obama administration has deemed the American role in the war essentially over.” [NYT]

Charlie Hebdo atrocity, pretext for racist arson?

This video is called Islamophobia and Antisemitism: Same message, different minority.

After the horrible crime in Paris, and the crime in Villefranche-sur-Saone in France which may be revenge for that …

Translated from regional TV RTV Rijnmond in the Netherlands:

Burning canister thrown at mosque in Vlaardingen

08-01-2015 | 14:45

During the night of Wednesday to Thursday, unknown people have thrown a burning canister at Al-Hijra mosque in Vlaardingen. It happened around 3:45 pm at the women’s entry of the mosque in Abraham Kuyper Street.

According to the chair of the house of prayer the incident probably has to do with the attack this Wednesday on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. The mosque has called the police.

Who threw the burning canister is not clear. On surveillance video no one is visible. According to local residents after the impact, two men ran away.

“The woman living across the street had been awakened by the blow. Then she saw two men run away,” chairman Nasri said. “In the camera images one can see that at 3:48 a flame appears. Then, a large fireball appears near the women’s entrance.”

We still don’t know who exactly committed the atrocity in Paris. What were their exact motives? Did they have any accomplices? Anyway, Muslims in Vlaardingen, the Netherlands did not have anything to do it.

Charlie Hebdo: Classmates protest innocence of suspect Hamyd Mourad, 18, with school alibi: here.

Terrorist atrocity in Paris, pretext for more violence and oppression

This video says about itself:

8 January 2015

Lyon, France: A “criminal” explosion occurred early Thursday at a kebab shop near a mosque in the eastern French town of Villefranche-sur-Saone, officials said, but left no casualties.

“It is a criminal act,” a local official told AFP, adding that a police investigation has been opened.

From NBC in the USA today:

Explosion Reported Near French Mosque in Wake of Charlie Hebdo Attack

An explosion erupted near a mosque in an eastern French town early Thursday, officials told a local newspaper. No injuries were reported, but the mayor of Villefranche-sur-Saône said he feared the incident could be linked to Wednesday’s deadly attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. The blast occurred near a mosque at around 6 a.m. and destroyed the glass front of a cafe attached to the building, Lyon-based newspaper Le Progres reported.

Reuters quoted a police source as confirming the explosion and that cafe was a kebab shop. “The window was [blown] out by an explosion in the night. The kebab shop was adjacent to a mosque,” the source said, adding it appeared to be a criminal act. According to Le Progres, firefighters arrived at the scene at 6 a.m. local time (midnight ET). “I’m worried that this is tied to the dramatic events of Wednesday,” Mayor Bernard Perrut told the newspaper. Villefranche-sur-Saône is located near Lyon, which is about 250 miles from the French capital.

By Alex Lantier and Bill Van Auken:

Twelve dead in terrorist shooting at Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo

8 January 2015

Twelve people are dead and eight wounded, including four who are fighting for their lives, after a massacre yesterday morning by masked men armed with assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and bulletproof vests at the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris. The cartoonists Charb, Cabu, Tignous, and Wolinski were among the dead.

Protests were held against the killings in Paris, Toulouse, Strasbourg, and other French cities, as well as in cities across Europe, including London, Berlin, and Rome.

Paris police Wednesday night announced that they had identified three suspects in the attack. The suspects were named as Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi, two brothers, both French and in their early 30s, and 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad. Mourad subsequently walked into a police station about 145 kilometres from Paris and is now in custody.

The identification of the alleged attackers raises more questions than it answers. Cherif Kouachi, in particular, is well-known to the French and American intelligence and police agencies. In 2005, the New York Times reported that he was arrested in France on charges of intending to travel to Iraq to join the insurgency against the US occupation. In 2008, he was convicted by French courts of terrorism charges and sentenced to three years in prison for allegedly attempting to send French Muslims to Iraq. At the time, he told the Associated Press that he had been driven to act by the images of torture from the US prison at Abu Ghraib.

Kouachi served 18 months of his sentence and remained under close surveillance by the French secret services. The French government will have to explain how such an individual—if police claims that he was the gunman are true—was able to obtain a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and automatic weapons and organize a highly professional and deadly attack in the middle of Paris without being prevented or detected.

Moreover, the site of the attack was itself well known to French authorities as a target. The magazine’s headquarters had been placed under police guard when it was fire-bombed in 2011 after publishing caricatures of the Prophet Mohamed. Charb was under police protection, as he was reportedly on a death list drawn up by Al Qaeda. Nonetheless, the gunmen succeeding in gaining access to the building shortly before 11 a.m., by threatening one of its employees at gunpoint.

The Paris atrocity conforms to the pattern of virtually every major case of terrorism internationally, stretching from the September 11, 2001 attacks to the present. They have not been carried out by people off the security services’ radar, but by individuals who were well-known and purportedly under scrutiny. Invariably, the authorities asserted that the atrocities were not prevented due to “intelligence failures.”

Long experience shows that the political forces that set such operations into motion are inevitably more complex and more sinister than they first appear. Nonetheless, the political purposes to which this latest atrocity will be put were readily apparent well before anyone had claimed to identify its authors. It was seized upon as an act that would strengthen the most reactionary political forces in Europe and internationally.

This was the immediate reaction, for example, of the New York Times, which affirmed that the mass killing was “sure to accelerate the growth of anti-Islamic sentiment in Europe, feeding far-right nationalist parties like France’s National Front.”

The attack in Paris unfolded in the context of growing right-wing, xenophobic, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim agitation across the continent, from the mass rallies organized in Germany under the banner of “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West” to the growth of right-wing nationalist parties like UKIP in Britain. As the media reaction makes clear, the carnage in Paris will be exploited to strengthen these reactionary tendencies.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of the neo-fascist National Front, exploited the attack as a means of legitimizing her party’s poisonous chauvinist politics. “It’s my responsibility to say that fear must be overcome and we must say that this attack should on the contrary free us in how we talk about Islamic fundamentalism,” she declared. In other words, the gloves were off in terms of whipping up anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim hysteria.

Whoever carried out this massacre, such terrorist actions can only play into the hands of the most reactionary forces in the state, and the growing constituency in the ruling elite for stepped-up military intervention abroad and police-state measures at home. As the aftermath of 9/11 conclusively demonstrated, these actions horrify and disorient the public, and provide an opportunity for the state to implement policies for which—except for the terrorist actions—there is no broad-based popular support.

Predictably, the widely-despised French President, François Hollande, appeared at the site of the shooting at 12:30 p.m. to announce a large-scale police operation and appeal for national unity. With his government’s involvement in Middle East wars growing, despite the overwhelming hostility of the French public, Hollande—France’s most unpopular president of the post-World War II period—seized upon the attack for its political utility.

All accounts of Wednesday’s attack indicate it was carried out in a highly organised and ruthless fashion.

Corinne Rey, a cartoonist at the paper, told L’Humanité: “I had gone to pick up my daughter in child care and, when we arrived in front of the paper’s headquarters, masked and armed men brutally threatened us. They wanted to get in and go upstairs. I entered the code. They shot Wolinski, Cabu … It lasted five minutes. I had hidden myself under a desk…They spoke perfect French, they said they were with Al Qaeda.”

Significantly, the attackers appeared to have detailed intelligence as to the operations of Charlie Hebdo. “The attackers were well informed and knew the weekly editorial board meeting was Wednesday at 10 a.m. Otherwise, the rest of the week, people aren’t around so much,” another Charlie Hebdo journalist told Le Monde.

Witnesses said that the gunmen moved calmly and methodically. They shouted “Allah Akbar” while beginning to shoot. They identified the journalists as they shot them and apparently also said they would not kill women. As they left the building, they engaged in a running gun battle with police. By then, ten people were dead inside the building and two outside, including two policemen.

They attacked several police cars during their escape, shouting “Allah Akbar.” They stopped to execute one wounded policeman with a shot to the head. They then exploited traffic to evade police and abandoned their car near the Porte de Pantin. They commandeered a new vehicle, holding the driver at gunpoint, and escaped into the northern suburbs of Paris.

Anchors on BFM-TV compared the shooting to the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and speculated that the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) was responsible. Predicting a major change between “a period before and a period after” the Charlie Hebdo shooting, they added: “January 7 will unfortunately mark France in this beginning of the 21st century.”

During the day, over 3,000 policemen were mobilized for a manhunt in the north Paris suburbs into which the gunmen had disappeared. Heavily armed police were also deployed to train stations, public buildings and monuments in Paris and throughout France.

Alain Chouet, a former security director for France’s General Directorate of Exterior Security (DGSE), told Atlantico: “These are professionals, dressed in black with ski masks so as not to be recognized. They acted in the style of highly-trained criminals.”

Asked whether this meant that Islamist groups like IS were now working with French organized crime, he replied: “It remains to be seen whether the attackers have any foreign ties…They could be one of two types of professionals of violence: criminals who carried out this action for one reason or another, or professionals trained abroad and sent to France for this purpose. However, if the Islamic State had controlled the operation from beginning to end, it seems likely they would have chosen a more symbolic target, more directly representing the French state.”

At this stage, no claims by media or the French state about the attack and who carried it out can be accepted uncritically.

It is possible that the attack was carried out by deeply disoriented and socially alienated French Muslims, who are embittered by the combination of deplorable conditions in France, anti-Muslim discrimination, their own treatment by the authorities and the bloody consequences of years of US and European military operations in the Middle East. However, this scenario does not exclude the possibility that their actions were facilitated, and even instigated, by agencies and interests of which the actual perpetrators were not aware.

Whatever the case, the political intention and effect of the attack is clear: to polarize society along national, ethnic and religious lines, dividing the working class and strengthening the drive to war, social reaction and repression.

The main danger arising from this horrible attack is the political purpose to which it will be put. In that sense, the media’s initial comparisons of the Charlie Hebdo shooting with the September 11 attacks are a sharp warning to the working class. That tragedy was exploited to embroil the American people in unpopular wars across the Middle East, above all in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to build up US intelligence agencies as a massive domestic spying apparatus, combined with paramilitary forces operating an unaccountable global network of torture and drone murder.

Class-conscious workers will oppose any attempt by the state to exploit the Charlie Hebdo murders to justify stepped-up wars in Iraq, Syria, and the Middle East, and further attacks on democratic rights.