President Barack Obama on Wednesday strongly condemned what he called a terrorist attack at a French satirical newspaper in Paris that killed 12 people.
“I think that all of us recognize that France is one of our oldest allies, our strongest allies,” Obama said before a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry. “They have been with us at every moment when we've -- from 9/11 on, in dealing with some of the terrorist organizations around the world that threaten us. For us to see the kind of cowardly evil attacks that took place today I think reinforces once again why it's so important for us to stand in solidarity with them, just as they stand in solidarity with us.”
Obama said that the White House has been in touch with French officials and that he has directed his administraton to “provide any assistance needed to help bring terrorists to jusice.” He said he expects to speak to French President François Hollande today.
“Our counterterrorism cooperation with France is excellent,” he said. “We will provide them with every bit of assistance that we can going forward.”
Obama said he would discuss with Kerry is how to protect Americans living in Paris, Europe, the Middle East and other parts of the world.
“In the end, though, the most important thing I want to say is that our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who’ve been lost in France, and with the people of Paris and the people of France,” he said. “What that beautiful city represents -- the culture and the civilization that is so central to our imaginations -- that's going to endure. And those who carry out senseless attacks against innocent civilians, ultimately they’ll be forgotten. And we will stand with the people of France through this very, very difficult time.”
Earlier on MSNBC, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that senior national security officials at the White House and at national security agencies had “been in close touch with their counterparts in France.”
“The United States stands ready to work with the French as we have in a variety of areas to help them conduct this investigation,” Earnest said. “And if the perpetrators are still at large we’re going to track them down.”
The French newspaper has been threatened in the past over its decision to publish caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. It’s offices were firebombed in 2011.
Before the shooting, the paper tweeted a cartoon mocking the leader of the Islamic State, which has threatened to attack nations which joined the U.S. led coalition against the terrorist organization.
Earnest said the administration is looking at whether to increase security at U.S. military and diplomatic facilities.
“That’s certainly something that is always on the mind of the president and senior members of his team here, is, ‘Are we doing everything that we need to do to make sure we are protecting the American people, particularly the American people abroad?’” he said. “So I’m confident our experts will be evaluating if additional steps will be taken to harden our military facilities or additional steps to secure our diplomatic facilities.”