All the hallmarks of Islamic terror attacks in Paris, France, on Friday weren’t enough to convince President Obama it would be prudent to use the word “Islam.”
Obama briefly addressed the nation on Friday after a string of coordinated attacks prompted French President Francois Hollande to declare a state of emergency and shut all borders. Authorities confirmed eight terrorists dead by early Saturday morning.
Terrorists wielding AK-47s and hurling explosives executed at least 118 people at a concert hall, after at least 40 people were killed elsewhere in coordinated attacks that rocked the French capital.
“This is a heartbreaking situation. And obviously those of us here in the United States know what it’s like. We’ve gone through these kinds of episodes ourselves,” Obama said. “I’m sure that in the days ahead we’ll learn more about exactly what happened, and my teams will make sure that we are in communication with the press to provide you accurate information. I don’t want to speculate at this point in terms of who was responsible for this. It appears that there may still be live activity and dangers that are taking place as we speak. And so until we know from French officials that the situation is under control, and we have for more information about it, I don’t want to speculate.”
A witness at one of the attack locations said a man screamed “This is for Syria!” as he opened fire on patrons at a Paris restaurant, Fox News reported.
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“There are lots of dead people,” a witness told the network. “Its pretty horrific to be honest. I was at the back of the bar. I couldn’t see anything. I heard gunshots. People dropped to the ground. We put a table over our heads to protect us.”
One of two suicide bombers is also reported to have detonated just outside the Stade de France, soccer stadium where Hollande was watching the French and German national teams play.
Men with AK-47s also burst into a theater district and took hostages while an American rock band, Eagles of Death Metal, performed at the Bataclan concert hall. A witness told CNN the shooters discharged their weapons for at least 10 minutes.
French SWAT teams were able to storm the building and regain control early Saturday morning.
Obama used Friday’s address to condemn the attempt “to terrorize innocent civilians,” but refused to specifically identify the Islamic element of extremist groups.
“We’re going to do whatever it takes to work with the French people and with nations around the world to bring these terrorists to justice, and to go after any terrorist networks that go after our people,” Obama said.
Members of the Islamic State took to social media in droves to celebrate the attack.
“O crusaders we are coming to you with bombs and rifles,” read one tweet from the terror network’s media wing.
“After the French crimes in Mali, and the bombing of Syria and Iraq, now comes the killing. In your homes there will be war,” tweeted another, Vocative reported.
ABC News aired an interview where Obama downplayed the group’s reach hours before the attack. The segment was taped Thursday.
In an interview with George Stephanopolous on “Good Morning America,” Obama asserted that ISIS was not gaining strength and that “we have contained them.”
“We’ve always understood that our goal has to be militarily constraining ISIL’s capabilities, cutting off their supply lines, cutting off their financing,” he said.
Obama pushed back when Stephanopolous suggested ISIS was gaining strength.
“I don’t think they’re gaining strength,” he said. “From the start, our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq, and in Syria they’ll come in, they’ll leave. But you don’t see this systemic march by ISIL across the terrain.”