Many Parisians gathered this weekend for Ang'er day. Ang'er is just outside of Paris and is Austin's sister city. In light of Fridays attack on Paris, what was supposed to be a happy event had a very somber tone.
The French flag was flying at half-staff at the event at the French Legation Museum. Jean Baptiste is from France and was in attendance and talks about the attacks on his country.
“I don’t know how to describe, it's really painful because I am really far, and can’t do anything.” He moved to Austin to start his own business about a month ago. “It was really shocking, [and] sad. I was talking with some friends on the internet [and] they start[ed] to talk about what is happening. I got some friends who live in Paris. Directly, I sent them a text and see if everything was okay, but they were safe,” he said.
Baptiste’s friends are safe, but many lost their lives in his home country.
“Just a cold world, cause they were in a place called Bataclan, where there were the most victims. It was just a concert for rock n roll. Why, why did you target this? It's only for fun and peace,” he said.
So why did Isis target a concert venue? Austin Community College Associate Professor Roy Casagranda studies the Middle East and said it seems as though Isis is going after soft targets.
“The attacks themselves you know, they don't have the complexity or care that say an attack Al Qaeda would've done in the past. These are you just got an assault rifle, and you go into a place and start shooting. I don’t think that’s a hard thing to develop or create,” Casagranda said.
Casagranda said these types of attacks are hard to track, and they can do it with a very small group of people, what he calls terror theater.
"They aren't really trying to dissuade us; they are trying to escalate the conflict to make it worse. It's clearly designed to make us emotional, overreact, and not use our heads. That's my fear,” Cassagranda said.
Instilling fear or not, more than 5,000 miles away, Parisians are standing together.
“Viva la France. I am with them, even if I am not in France, I am with them and we will be stronger,” Baptiste said.
Casagranda said in the short run he doesn't think there is likely much for us to worry about here in Austin. But he does suspect, over the long run, we will start to see some terrorism coming to the United States. Austin police officers do go through a terror threat training course so they know specifically what to look.