ISIS, al Qaeda targeted France before Paris newspaper shooting

We don't know if Wednesday's massacre at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo was directed by al Qaeda or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group, but both had put a bullseye on France.

In a video released by ISIS just days ago, a French jihadi in Syria issued a chilling order:

"Blow up France and tear it down to pieces," he said. "Do it with a stone or a knife or whatever you can get your hands on."

It's a message that has clearly been embraced.

France has a history of terror attacks

In the past month there have been three attacks in France by Islamic radicals, including two where militants drove cars into crowds of people, shouting "Allahu akbar!" and wounding at least 20.

Hundreds of military officers were sent to patrol the streets and beef up security even before Wednesday's attack.

There's concern that the spike in attacks may be a response to France's support of the U.S.-led airstrikes against ISIS. Hundreds of French citizens have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the jihad.

France has a long history of dealing with Islamic extremism.

France's increasing terror threat

In 2012, the country was shocked by the murders of seven people near the city of Toulouse‎. The gunman was a 23-year-old Algerian who claimed to be trained by al Qaeda and who said he was he taking revenge for French military action overseas. He was killed after a long standoff with police.

In Mali, Africa, in 2013, it was France that spearheaded operations against al Qaeda fighters who were threatening to overrun the capital.

Another ISIS video shows French fighters burning their passports. "As long as you continue bombing," they warn, "you will never find peace."

Several Western jihadis in Syria told CBS News they were not surprised by Wednesday's attack. One said many ISIS fighters have gone back to Europe and there will be more attacks like this.

Another said simply, "For insulting our beloved prophet, they deserved it."

  • Clarissa Ward
    Clarissa Ward

    Foreign Correspondent, CBS News