Senior intelligence officers from Iraq have alerted France about Friday's terror attacks in Paris one day before it took place, according to a dispatch recently obtained by the Associated Press (AP). The intelligence report indicated that Iraqi officials apparently told the US-led coalition of countries currently fighting ISIS, including France, that they were under threat from the extremist group.
ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ordered his followers to launch attacks to the list of nations fighting them through "bombings or assassinations or hostage-taking in the coming days." The coalition forces were said to be alerted that 24 operatives had been planning for the terror operations in the city of Raqqa, an ISIS stronghold. Of those operatives, 19 would be involved in the actual attacks and five would be in charge of logistics.
Part of the Iraqi intelligence dispatch obtained by the AP reads, "We have recovered information from our direct sources in the Islamic State terrorist organization about the orders issued by terrorist 'Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi' directing all members of the organization to implement an international attack that includes all coalition countries, in addition to Iran and the Russian Federation, through bombings or assassinations or hostage taking in the coming days. We do not have information on the date and place for implementing these terrorist operations at this time."
It has also emerged that authorities in Turkey have successfully thwarted another terror attack in Istanbul, the Eurasian country's most populous city, according to Agence-France Press (AFP). The foiled attempt was meant to coincide with the deadly incident in the French capital. Turkish police detained five people which include a known ISIS operative.
Back in Paris, people attended a special mass in the Notre Dame Cathedral to commemorate the lives lost in Friday's horrific event. The iconic church, along with the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum and other major public spaces, have been closed since the attacks. However, the Notre Dame opened its doors on Sunday to accommodate church-goers.
The cathedral's historic bells rang for a full 10 minutes to announce the memorial service officiated by Paris Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois. Apart from the full-packed audience inside, thousands of people including foreign nationals have gathered outside to hear the mass.
Patrick Grivel, a native of Chantilly town, north of Paris, said "We are here to show each other we are not alone. We are together. That is very important. We are not afraid. We are together and we will be in the future. We are united. We always will be."