PARIS (AP) — Survivors and families of the victims of the deadly 2015 extremist attacks around Paris say they are relieved at the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi but warn that the fight against extremism is not over.
Al-Baghdadi was responsible for directing and inspiring terror attacks across continents and in the heart of Europe. His killing by U.S. forces, which was announced Sunday, leaves the Islamic State without an obvious leader, a major setback for an organization that in March was forced by American troops and Kurdish forces out of the last part of its self-declared “caliphate,” which once spanned a swath of Iraq and Syria.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Nov. 13, 2015, attacks on Paris cafes, the national stadium and the Bataclan concert hall that left 130 people dead.
Georges Salines, whose daughter Lola died at the Bataclan, told The Associated Press he welcomed the announcement of the IS leader’s death with a “sense of satisfaction.”
“We have no regrets,” he said. “It would have been even better if al-Baghdadi could have been captured and sent to trial … That was probably impossible, we knew that for a long time.”
Salines stressed that the fight against terrorism is a long-term battle that needs to continue.
Philippe Duperron, president of 13onze15, a victims’ association, lost his son Thomas in the Bataclan attack.
“It’s not bad news,” he said of the IS leader’s slaying but added for ethical reasons his group would not express joy at any death.
“One major player of the Islamic state group’s actions has disappeared,” he told the AP.
A trial of suspects in the Nov. 13, 2015 Paris attacks is expected to begin in 2021. French prosecutors announced this month that the judicial investigation into those attacks has been completed and that 1,740 plaintiffs have joined the proceedings. Fourteen people have been charged in the case, including Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving suspect of the group of assailants who carried out the Paris attacks.
Arthur Denouveaux, survivor of the attack at the Bataclan and president of Life for Paris, a victims’ group, told the French newspaper Le Parisien “us, the victims, are not seeking revenge … but a desire for justice.”
He said al-Baghdadi’s death is “symbolically is a major blow to the operational capacities” of the IS group.
“It is essential to continue the fight for the security of the region and also of European countries,” Denouveaux added.
French magistrates had recently issued an international arrest warrant against al-Baghdadi in a counterterrorism investigation that opened this month for “heading or organizing a criminal terrorist conspiracy.”