13 November 2015, ISIS Raid on Paris – the hotel connection

20 November, 2015 Hotel Attacks

The ISIS raid on Paris on 13 November 2015 included seven targets, reports the BBC, mostly in the eastern portion of the city:

  1. 9:20 pm, suicide bomb attack, Stade de France
  1. 9:25 pm, gun attack on Rue Alibert, Le Carillon bar (and apparent budget hotel,) at 18 Rue Alibert
  1. 9:25 pm, gun attack, (same time/street as # 2,) Le Petit Cambodge restaurant
  1. 9:32 pm, gun attack on Rue de la Fontaine au Roi in front of the Cafe Bonne Biere and La Casa Nostra pizzeria
  1. 9:36 pm, gun attack on Rue de Charonne, La Belle Equipe bar
  1. 9:40 pm, suicide bomb on Boulevard Voltaire at Le Comptoir Voltaire restaurant
  1. 9:40 pm -12:20 am, gun and suicide bomb attack on 50 Boulevard Voltaire at the Bataclan concert hall

Most of the gun attacks were reportedly by terrorists armed with AK-47s, grenades, and suicide vests. The mobile teams that went from venue to venue arrived at (and egressed from) their targets in cars.

The Telegraph reports there were between 7-9 attackers, and one or two might have escaped the carnage. An EU-wide manhunt is underway for the attacker(s) that might have escaped, and also for the cell’s support network. The support network presumably helped facilitate the attacks with intelligence, logistics, finances, transportation, etc., and might have numbered 20 or more. The entire network appears linked to several other countries, including Belgium and Syria.

The Telegraph reports that the attacks killed 129 people. CNN says the wounded count was 352.

How were hotels connected?

First, the 9:25 pm attack on Le Carillon was not just an attack on a bar. The venue also appears to be a budget hotel. The awning of the establishment says, “Bar Le Carillon     Hotel.” The address of the venue at 18 Rue Alibert clearly has a “hotel” sign on it, and there are large “hotel” signs above the bar as well. None of the standard travel sites mention that this is a hotel, however.

There is no clear connection linking any hotel issue and the attack on Le Carillon. It appears that the attack focused on Le Carillon because it was an easy and popular civilian target that would grab sensational headlines and spread fear by murdering its patrons. It seems likely that the establishment just happened to be a hotel. There are hundreds of small hotels all over Paris – practically on every third block or so – many of which do not show up on travel sites or Google map searches. Accordingly, unless a terror attack intentionally focuses on a hotel in Paris, chances are that nearly any attack in the city will happen near a hotel.

And this points to the second way that the Paris attacks were connected to hotels: there were scores of hotels near/next to the venues that were hit. They were:

Target: Bataclan……Hotel(s): 1) Hotel Fabriq, and 2) the Ideal Hotel (both about two blocks away to the southwest)

Target: La Casa Nostra……Hotel: Absolute Paris (across the street)

Target: La Belle Equipe bar……Hotel: Hotel des Arts Bastille (across the street, next to a pharmacy)

Target: Stade De France……Hotel(s): 1) Hotel Suite Novotel (directly adjacent to the stadium to the east,) and 2) Hotel Ibis Saint Denis Stade Sud, and 3) F1 Stade De France (the third stadium bomber exploded himself 400 meters from the Stade de France on Rue de la Cokerie near a McDonald’s. The Ibis and F1 hotels are 100 feet to the east of this McDonald’s. There is also another F1 hotel across the river, east of the stadium.) 4) Hotel ibis Saint-Denis Stade Ouest (to the west of the stadium and several blocks from the explosions, but still in the vicinity of the attacks.)

Finally, there is a third way that hotels were connected to the Paris attacks. The terrorists used two rooms at the Appart’City hotel in Alfortville, about three miles southwest of Paris, as a staging point for the attacks. Investigators speculate that the terrorists might have used syringes found at the scene to, 1) inject themselves with drugs so they’d be more emboldened during the attacks, or 2) as part of the bomb making process.

The Paris attacks demonstrate that in terrorist raids on major cities such as Paris, 1) hotels can be directly in the line of terrorist fire even if the attackers are not intentionally targeting specific hotels, 2) that hotels in such scenarios can be indirectly impacted, which, aside from loss of life and physical damage, might result in lost business and/or negative brand image, and 3) hotels might be used by terrorists as staging points for attacks and/or weapons storage and bomb assembly. All these scenarios have played out in the past in countries such as India, Indonesia, the U.S. (the Boston marathon bombings), Ireland, and Kenya, just to name five.

Sources and further reading:

Paris attacks: What happened on the night,” BBC, 16 November 2015.

Paris terror attack: Everything we know on Friday morning,” The Telegraph, 20 November 2015.

Paris attack victims: Father-of-one died when he took a bullet for his girlfriend,” The Telegraph, 18 November 2015.

Paris suicide bomber identified; ISIS claims responsibility for 129 dead,” CNN, 16 November 2015.

A glimpse inside terrorists’ hotel rooms before Paris atrocity began,” News.com.au, 19 November 2015.

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