As we go to press before Shabbat in Israel, the dangerous hostage episode is still not yet over in Dammartin-en-Goele, France. Police are preparing to storm the compound to capture or kill the Islamic terrorist brothers who murdered 12 people in Charlie Hebdo headquarters.

The operation to seize two of three terrorists who massacred 12 civilians at Charlie Hebdo magazine headquarters in Paris continues.

One of the assailants, Hamyd Mourad, 18, surrendered to police. The other two – Cherif Kouachi, 32, and his brother Said, 34 – are “armed and dangerous.” They are currently holed up in Dammartin-en-Goele, a town located about 40 kilometers northeast of Paris.

They were spotted late Thursday at a gas station in the northern part of the country, robbing a service station and armed with rifles and grenades, according to witnesses.

Day of Mourning in France

Thursday was declared a day of mourning in France. Tens of thousands gathered at demonstrations in cities worldwide declaring solidarity with the families, and holding signs saying, “Je suis Charlie” – meaning, “we are all Charlie.” The message was that they would defend freedom of the press and not succumb to terror.

The Kouachi brothers are reportedly French with Algerian roots, and Cherif had allegedly served time on charges of terrorism.

According to The Guardian, “the news that the younger Kouachi was sentenced in 2008 to three years in prison (with 18 months suspended) for his involvement in a network sending volunteer fighters to Iraq to fight alongside al-Qaida extremists there and was again detained after being implicated in a plot to break a jailed militant leader out of jail two years later will raise questions over why French security authorities had not been more closely monitoring his movements.

“Police and intelligence services were heavily criticized in 2012,” the Guardian continues, “after a 23-year-old French Muslim who had recently returned from Pakistan and Afghanistan and was connected to a wider group of extremist sympathizers went on a 10-day shooting spree, killing seven people.”

Mourad is allegedly homeless but is rooted in Reims, which is situated approximately 90 miles east of Paris. The search for the Kouachi brothers had been focused on that city.

Also on Thursday morning, France was hit with another terror attack in which an assailant shot two people, including a policewoman, who succumbed to her wounds hours later.

While there is no indication that the attacks were related, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told RTL radio that the “main concern” is to prevent another act of terror.

France faces an “unprecedented terrorist threat…that is without precedent,” he told the radio station, as translated by a number of media sites. “We have to act – and we’re acting – at the level of the police, the intelligence services and at a judicial level.”

There is speculation that the Thursday morning shooting was a criminal, rather than a political, act, although no conclusion has been drawn.

By United with Israel Staff