Why France has become a prime target for terrorists

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Why Are Terrorists Targeting Paris?

Many experts weren't surprised when Islamic terrorists targeted France in attacks that killed at least 130 people and injured hundreds more in Paris last November.

John Schindler, the national-security columnist for the New York Observer, tweeted after the attacks: "Jihadists with Balkan small arms were shooting up France in 1995 ... got no idea why anybody is surprised."

Attackers used guns and bombs at several sites across Paris in November, including the Stade de France and the Bataclan concert hall, where a shooting rampage and hostage situation left about 89 people dead.

Salah Abdeslam, the most wanted man in Europe for his suspected role in the attacks, was wounded and captured in a police raid in the Molenbeek district of Brussels on Friday afternoon, ending a months-long manhunt.

Photos of the aftermath in the days following the November attacks:

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Paris terror attack memorials, aftermath, world reaction
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Why France has become a prime target for terrorists
A building is decorated with French flags in Paris, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. French President Francois Hollande called on his compatriots to hang French tricolor flags on Friday to pay homage to the 130 victims of the Nov. 13 attacks, an unusual appeal by a Socialist leader in a country where flag-waving is often associated with nationalists and the far right. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French President Francois Hollande, center, attends a ceremony to honor the 130 victims killed in the Nov. 13 attacks in the courtyard of the Invalides in Paris, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. A subdued France paid homage Friday to those killed two weeks ago in the attacks that gripped Paris in fear and mourning. (Philippe Wojazer/Pool Photo via AP)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 27: President of France Francois Hollande attends The National Tribute to The Victims of The Paris Terrorist Attacks at Les Invalides on November 27, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Wounded people in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks take part to a ceremony in the courtyard of the Invalides in Paris, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. France is mourning and honoring those killed in the Nov. 13 attacks in a somber ceremony presided by French President Francois Hollande. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
A man displays the French flag in front of the Bataclan concert hall, which was a site of last Friday's attacks, in Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. France is demanding security aid and assistance from the European Union in the wake of the Paris attacks and has triggered a never-before-used article in the EU's treaties to secure it. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A woman prays as they pay their respect in front of a floral tribute near the Bataclan concert hall after the terrorist attacks in Paris, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. France is urging its European partners to move swiftly to boost intelligence sharing, fight arms trafficking and terror financing, and strengthen border security in the wake of the Paris attacks. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
Two mourners kiss outside the Bataclan concert hall, which was a site of last Friday's attacks, adorned with a banner reading "Freedom is a monument which can not be destroyed", in Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. France is demanding security aid and assistance from the European Union in the wake of the Paris attacks and has triggered a never-before-used article in the EU's treaties to secure it. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
People watch the illuminated Eiffel Tower in the French national colors red, white and blue in honor of the victims of the terrorist attacks last Friday in Paris, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. France is urging its European partners to move swiftly to boost intelligence sharing, fight arms trafficking and terror financing, and strengthen border security in the wake of the Paris attacks. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
People react, in front of the restaurant Le Carillon, one of the establishments targeted in Friday's gun and bomb attacks, in Paris, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. French police raided more than 150 locations overnight as authorities released the names of two more potential suicide bombers involved in the Paris attacksâ one born in Syria, the other a Frenchman wanted as part of a terrorism investigation. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Hands of participants cast a shadow as Indian youth try to stretch a huge banner before beginning a silent rally to protest against Friday's Paris attacks, in Kolkata, India, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015. Multiple attacks across Paris on Friday night have left more than one hundred dead and many more injured. (AP Photo/ Bikas Das)
French President Francois Hollande observes a minute of silence before delivering a speech at the Versailles castle, west of Paris, Monday, Nov.16, 2015. French President Francois Hollande addressed parliament about France's response to the Paris attacks, in a rare speech to lawmakers gathered in the majestic congress room of the Palace of Versailles. (Philippe Wojazer, Pool via AP)
French President Francois Hollande arrives to deliver a speech at the Versailles castle, west of Paris, Monday, Nov.16, 2015. French President Francois Hollande is addressing parliament about France's response to the Paris attacks, in a rare speech to lawmakers gathered in the majestic congress room of the Palace of Versailles. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
A woman carrying flowers cries in front of the Carillon cafe and the Petit Cambodge restaurant in Paris Saturday Nov. 14, 2015, a day after over 120 people were killed in a series of attacks in Paris. French President Francois Hollande said at least 127 people died Friday night when at least eight attackers launched gun attacks at Paris cafes, detonated suicide bombs near France's national stadium and killed hostages inside a concert hall during a rock show. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
People lay flowers and candles in front of the restaurant Le Carillon, one of the establishments targeted in Friday's gun and bomb attacks, in Paris, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. French police raided more than 150 locations overnight as authorities released the names of two more potential suicide bombers involved in the Paris attacksâ one born in Syria, the other a Frenchman wanted as part of a terrorism investigation. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
People react, in front of the restaurant Le Carillon, one of the establishments targeted in Friday's gun and bomb attacks, in Paris, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. French police raided more than 150 locations overnight as authorities released the names of two more potential suicide bombers involved in the Paris attacksâ one born in Syria, the other a Frenchman wanted as part of a terrorism investigation. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Flowers are put in a window shattered by a bullet as a forensic marker sits next to the impact as people pay their respect to the victims at the site of the attacks on restaurant Le Petit Cambodge (Little Cambodia) and the Carillon Hotel on the first of three days of national mourning in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. Thousands of French troops deployed around Paris on Sunday and tourist sites stood shuttered in one of the most visited cities on Earth while investigators questioned the relatives of a suspected suicide bomber involved in the country's deadliest violence since World War II. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 15: People gather and sing songs at Place de la Republique on November 15, 2015 in Paris, France. As France observes three days of national mourning members of the public continue to pay tribute to the victims of Friday's deadly attacks. A special service for the families of the victims and survivors is to be held at Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Women comfort each other as they stand in front of the Carillon cafe, in Paris, Saturday, Nov.14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande vowed to attack Islamic State without mercy as the jihadist group admitted responsibility Saturday for orchestrating the deadliest attacks inflicted on France since World War II. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 15: Members of the public gather to lay flowers and light candles at La Belle Equipe restaraunt on Rue de Charonne following Fridays terrorist attack on November 15, 2015 in Paris, France. As France observes three days of national mourning members of the public continue to pay tribute to the victims of Friday's deadly attacks. A special service for the families of the victims and survivors is to be held at Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral later on Sunday. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 14: People finish arranging candles into the word 'Paris' next to flowers and messages left at the gate of the French Embassy following the recent terror attacks in Paris on November 14, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. Hundreds of people came throughout the day to lay flowers, candles and messages of condolence to mourn the victims of attacks last night in Paris that left at least 120 people dead across the French capital. The Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the attacks that were carried out by at least eight terrorists.. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
A woman lights a candle at the French embassy in Guatemala City, during a ceremony Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, in homage to the victims of the deadly attacks in Paris. Multiple terrorist attacks across Paris on Friday night left more than one hundred dead and many more injured. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
People react outside the Paris morgue in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande vowed to attack the Islamic State group without mercy as the jihadist group admitted responsibility Saturday for orchestrating the deadliest attacks inflicted on France since World War II. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A man pays respect to the victims of the attacks next to a sign reading "We Are Not Afraid" at Place de la Republique (Republic Square) in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande vowed to attack the Islamic State group without mercy as the jihadist group claimed responsibility Saturday for orchestrating the deadliest attacks on France since World War II. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 14: Bono and band members from the band U2 place flowers on the pavement near the scene of yesterday's Bataclan Theatre terrorist attack on November 14, 2015 in Paris, France. At least 120 people have been killed and over 200 injured, 80 of which seriously, following a series of terrorist attacks in the French capital. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
People gather for a national service for the victims of the terror attack at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. Thousands of French troops deployed around Paris on Sunday and tourist sites stood shuttered in one of the most visited cities on Earth while investigators questioned the relatives of a suspected suicide bomber involved in the country's deadliest violence since World War II. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
With the Brandenburg Gate, illuminated in the French national colors, in the background, a woman from Tunisia mourns for the victims killed in the Friday's attacks in Paris, France, next to the French Embassy in Berlin, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande said more than 120 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France's national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
People pay their respect to the victims at the site of the attacks on restaurant Le Petit Cambodge (Little Cambodia) and the Carillon Hotel on the first of three days of national mourning in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. Thousands of French troops deployed around Paris on Sunday and tourist sites stood shuttered in one of the most visited cities on Earth while investigators questioned the relatives of a suspected suicide bomber involved in the country's deadliest violence since World War II. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A man holds his head in his hands as he lays flowers in front of the Carillon cafe, in Paris, Saturday, Nov.14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande vowed to attack Islamic State without mercy as the jihadist group admitted responsibility Saturday for orchestrating the deadliest attacks inflicted on France since World War II. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
People react outside the Paris morgue in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande vowed to attack the Islamic State group without mercy as the jihadist group admitted responsibility Saturday for orchestrating the deadliest attacks inflicted on France since World War II. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 14: A woman cries near Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, the day after a deadly attack on November 14, 2015 in Paris, France. At least 120 people have been killed and over 200 injured, 80 of which seriously, following a series of terrorist attacks in the French capital. (Photo by Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images)
People pass a painting on a garage door opposite the restaurant on Rue de Charonne, Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, where attacks took place on Friday. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for Friday's attacks on a stadium, a concert hall and Paris cafes that left more than 120 people dead and over 350 wounded. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A bullet hole in the window of the restaurant on Rue de Charonne, Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, where attacks took place on Friday. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for Friday's attacks on a stadium, a concert hall and Paris cafes that left more than 120 people dead and over 350 wounded. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
French soldiers patrol at the Eiffel Tower which remained closed on the first of three days of national mourning in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. Thousands of French troops deployed around Paris on Sunday and tourist sites stood shuttered in one of the most visited cities on Earth while investigators questioned the relatives of a suspected suicide bomber involved in the country's deadliest violence since World War II. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A man places a candle in front of the Carillon cafe in Paris Saturday Nov. 14, 2015, a day after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
People light candles outside the French embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, for the victims killed in Friday's attacks in Paris. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 14: People arrive to lay candles and flowers at the gate of the French Embassy as the Brandenburg Gate stands behind illuminated in the colors of the French flag following the recent terror attacks in Paris on November 14, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. Hundreds of people came throughout the day to lay flowers, candles and messages of condolence to mourn the victims of attacks last night in Paris that left at least 120 people dead across the French capital. The Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the attacks that were carried out by at least eight terrorists. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
A Christian boy prays during a candlelight vigil for victims who were killed in Friday's attacks in Paris, at St. Thomas Church in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. Multiple attacks across Paris on Friday night have left scores dead and hundreds injured. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
A woman lays flowers to pay tribute to the victims of Paris Attacks outside the French Embassy in Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. Multiple attacks across Paris on Friday night have left scores dead and hundreds injured. (Balazs Mohai/MTI via AP)
Alexandra Salomon, from Paris, France, center, joins a vigil outside the White House in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, to pay tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks. Multiple attacks across Paris on Friday night have left scores dead and hundreds injured. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Egyptian tour guides hold a candlelight vigil at the base of the Great Pyramid of Giza in solidarity with victims of attacks in Paris and Beirut and the Russian plane crash in northern Sinai, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. The Islamic State group have claimed responsibility for Friday night's attacks in Paris, Thursdays's twin powerful suicide bombings that tore through a crowded Shiite neighborhood of Beirut, and bringing down a Russian jetliner over Egypt's Sinai region earlier this month. (AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell)
A young woman with her lips painted in the French national colours as Copenhagen citizens with torches gathered Sunday Nov. 15. 2015 at Kongens Nytorv Square by the French Embassy to commemorate the victims of the terrorist attack in Paris Friday. (Miriam Dalsgaard/Polfoto via AP) DENMARK OUT
Denver Broncos free safety Darian Stewart (26) carries the French Flag as he takes the field prior to an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 15: Ultra Orthodox Jewish men pass as Jerusalem's Old City wall is illuminated with the colours of the French national flag to show solidarity for the victims of the Paris attacks on November 15, 2015 in Jerusalem, Israel. At least 129 people have been killed and over 300 are injured in Paris following a series of terrorist acts in the French capital on Friday. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
Mumbaiâs Chhatrapati Shivaji train station building is illuminated by the colors of the French national flag in solidarity with France following Fridayâs Paris terror attacks, Mumbai, India, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. This Mumbai landmark was one of the major targets of the 2008 terror attacks that killed 166 people. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
French exchange student Loris Boichot, of Nice, France, is wrapped in the French flag as he displays a placard at a vigil Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, in Boston, held in sympathy for people of Paris. Multiple attacks across the French capital on Friday night have left scores dead and hundreds injured. The placard call for an end to barbarism, and includes the opening words to the French national anthem. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 14: A woman cries outside of the Consulate General of France in New York the day after an attack on civilians in Paris on November 14, 2015 in New York City. At least 100 people were killed in a popular Paris concert hall, one of at least 6 terror attacks in the French capital. The French president Francois Hollande closed French borders following the attacks. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
A woman cries as she mourns for the victims killed in the Friday's attacks in Paris, France, in front of the French Embassy in Berlin, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande said more than 120 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France's national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
A woman with her arm painted with the phrase in French "I am Paris" participates in a ceremony in Lima, Peru, in homage to the victims of the deadly attacks in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. Multiple terrorist attacks across Paris on Friday night left more than one hundred dead and many more injured. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
French soldiers patrol the area at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on November 14, 2015 following a series of coordinated attacks in and around Paris late Friday which left more than 120 people dead. French President Francois Hollande blamed the Islamic State group for the attacks in Paris that left at least 128 dead, calling them an 'act of war'. The multiple attacks across the city late Friday were 'an act of war... committed by a terrorist army, the Islamic State, against France, against... what we are, a free country,' Hollande said. AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS GUILLOT (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)
Shoes and bloody shirt lay outside the Bataclan concert hall, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015 in Paris. French President Francois Hollande said more than 120 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France's national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 15: A rose is placed beside a bullet hole at La Belle Equipe restaraunt on Rue de Charonne following Fridays terrorist attack on November 15, 2015 in Paris, France. As France observes three days of national mourning members of the public continue to pay tribute to the victims of Friday's deadly attacks. A special service for the families of the victims and survivors is to be held at Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral later on Sunday.(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A woman places a paper with a peace sign combined with the Eiffel Tower and the words: 'We are united' between flowers and candles to remember the victims of Friday's attacks in Paris, in front of the French Embassy in Berlin, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. Multiple attacks across Paris on Friday night have left scores dead and hundreds injured. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
A man passes candles placed for t victims of the Paris attacks Friday night, in front of the Hildesheim cathedral in Hildesheim northern Germany, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande said more than 120 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France's national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall. (Peter Steffen/dpa via AP)
People gather in Hong Kong, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, to mourn for the victims killed in Friday's attacks in Paris. French President Francois Hollande said more than 120 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France's national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
A man hides his face as he leaves the morgue in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande vowed to attack the Islamic State group without mercy as the jihadist group admitted responsibility Saturday for orchestrating the deadliest attacks inflicted on France since World War II. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
A watch lays on the ground outside the Bataclan concert hall, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015 in Paris. French President Francois Hollande said more than 120 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France's national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Flowers are placed outside the Bataclan concert hall, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015 in Paris. French President Francois Hollande said more than 120 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France's national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
The One World Trade Center spire is lit blue, white and red after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the lighting in honor of dozens killed in the Paris attacks Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, in New York. French officials say several dozen people have been killed in shootings and explosions at a theater, restaurant and elsewhere in Paris. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 14: Pedestrians walk in front of the Sydney Opera House as its sails are illuminated in the colours of the French flag on November 14, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. At least 120 people have been killed and over 200 are injured in Paris following a series of terrorist acts in the French capital on Friday. (Photo by Daniel Munoz/Getty Images)
People mix the wax of candles with the French colors outside the French embassy in Lima, Peru, during a ceremony in homage to the victims of the deadly attacks in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. Multiple terrorist attacks across Paris on Friday night left more than one hundred dead and many more injured. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 14: A woman with a French flag painted in her face cries during a vigil for victims of the Paris terror attacks at Martin Place on November 14, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. At least 120 people have been killed and over 200 injured, 80 of which seriously, following a series of terrorist attacks in the French capital. (Photo by Daniel Munoz/Getty Images)
Cards, candles and flowers are placed in front of the Carillon cafe in Paris Saturday Nov. 14, 2015, a day after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
People lay flowers in front of the French Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, to mourn the victims in Friday's Paris attacks. French President Francois Hollande said more than 120 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France's national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
SHANGHAI, CHINA - NOVEMBER 14: Benjamin Hebert of France with a message for Paris on his golf cap during the third round of the BMW Masters at Lake Malaren Golf Club on November 14, 2015 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
People line up to lay flowers in front of the French embassy in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, for the victims of the Paris attacks on Friday. French President Francois Hollande said more than 120 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France's national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
People lay flowers and light candles in front of French Embassy in Warsaw on November 14, 2015 following a series of terror attacks in the French city of Paris and its surroundings that has left at least 120 people dead and some 200 wounded. AFP PHOTO / JANEK SKARZYNSKI (Photo credit should read JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman holds a bouquet of roses during a vigil in solidarity with France after the deadly attacks in Paris, outside France's embassy in Bogota, Colombia, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. Multiple attacks across Paris on Friday night have left scores dead and hundreds injured. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 14: A man hold a French flag and a sign during a vigil for victims of the Paris terror attacks at Martin Place on November 14, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. At least 120 people have been killed and over 200 injured, 80 of which seriously, following a series of terrorist attacks in the French capital. (Photo by Daniel Munoz/Getty Images)
People line up to give blood at the St Louis hospital across the street from the Petit Cambodge restaurant in Paris Saturday Nov. 14, 2015, a day after over 120 people were killed in a series of shooting and explosions. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 14: A man reads a French newspaper after a terrorist attack on November 14, 2015 in Paris, France. At least 120 people have been killed and over 200 injured, 80 of which seriously, following a series of terrorist attacks in the French capital. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
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ISIS (also known as the Islamic State and ISIL) called Paris "the capital of prostitution and vice" in a statement claiming responsibility for the attacks last year. The terrorist group also stated that France and "all nations following in its path" are "at the top of the target list for the Islamic State."

Under President Francois Hollande, France launched its first airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria last September. The country is also a closer and more opportunistic target for extremist groups.

Witnesses at the Bataclan said the gunmen shouted in French, "This is because of all the harm done by Hollande to Muslims all over the world," according to The New York Times. Another witness confirmed this to CNN, telling the news network the attacker who shouted that statement sounded like a native French speaker.

Will McCants, an expert on extremism and author of the recent book "The ISIS Apocalypse," told Business Insider in November that the attack could have been a pointed warning to France to cease strikes in Syria.

It could be "to say to France, 'If you continue to bomb our positions, there's going to be more of the same and you had better leave off or more of your civilians will die,'" McCants said.

But McCants pointed out that it's difficult to speculate about ISIS' reasoning because "it may be a matter of where they had the greatest opportunity."

"The nation that is ISIS' greatest enemy is the United States," McCants said. "And you would have to expect that [the US] would be at the very top of their list of targets. But it's also very difficult to get operatives into this country."

Paris might also be a more fruitful recruiting ground for ISIS than cities in some other western countries.

Tensions surrounding France's Muslim community have long been simmering, as George Packer, a foreign correspondent for The New Yorker who covered the Iraq war, chronicled in an August article. The article, titled "The Other France," wondered whether Paris suburbs are an "incubator for terrorism."

"France has all kinds of suburbs, but the word for them, banlieues, has become pejorative, meaning slums dominated by immigrants," Packer wrote.

"Inside the banlieues are the cités: colossal concrete housing projects built during the postwar decades, in the Brutalist style of Le Corbusier. Conceived as utopias for workers, they have become concentrations of poverty and social isolation. The cités and their occupants are the subject of anxious and angry discussion in France."

Related: Raids and arrests around Europe following the November attacks:

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Anti-terrorism raids and arrests across Europe after Paris attacks
See Gallery
Why France has become a prime target for terrorists
An armed police man patrols at the Grand Place in Brussels on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015. Two people have been arrested in Belgium on suspicion of planning attacks in Brussels during the holidays, the federal prosecutor's office said Tuesday. A source close to the investigation said the Belgian capital's main square, thronged this time of year with holiday shoppers and strollers, was one of the suspected targets. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - DECEMBER 29: Security forces of Belgium stand guard as two people arrested on suspicion of terrorism in Brussels, Belgium on December 29, 2015. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - DECEMBER 29: Security forces of Belgium stand guard as two people arrested on suspicion of terrorism in Brussels, Belgium on December 29, 2015. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
French police officers monitor the border between France and Belgium in Neuville-en-Ferrain, northern France, Monday, Nov. 23, 2015. Belgian police launched more raids in Brussels and beyond early Monday, detaining five more people as they continued their hunt for a fugitive suspect in the Paris attacks. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 20: On the street where the raid took place in the Saint Denis area of Paris, and where three people died, including the ringleader of the terrorist attack, police man the security barrier as the investigation at the apartment continues. A third body was found in the rubble today. (Photo by Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Masked police officers guard the 'Seituna' cultural center in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. Police raided the mosque after the arrest of two people suspected of belonging to an Islamist extremist group. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Police lead away a man during a raid in Brussels on Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015. Western leaders stepped up the rhetoric against the Islamic State group on Sunday as residents of the Belgian capital awoke to largely empty streets and the city entered its second day under the highest threat level. With a menace of Paris-style attacks against Brussels and a missing suspect in the deadly Nov. 13 attacks in France last spotted crossing into Belgium, the city kept subways and underground trams closed for a second day. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
ALSDORF, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 17: Heavily-armed members of the German SEK special forces police unit stand outside a house in Schaufenberger Strasse street where they possibly made two arrests on November 17, 2015 in Alsdorf, Germany. Police announced earlier today that a unit of the SEK special forces had in a separate incident arrested two men and one woman at 9:30 this morning in connection with the recent terror attacks in Paris in the parking lot of a Jobcenter employment office. So far it is unclear who the suspects are though initial reports indicate Salah Abdeslam, a brother of a man who took part in the attacks and whom police are searching for across Europe, is not among them. (Photo by Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images)
ALSDORF, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 17: Heavily-armed members of the German SEK special forces police unit stand outside a house in Schaufenberger Strasse street where they possibly made two arrests on November 17, 2015 in Alsdorf, Germany. Police announced earlier today that a unit of the SEK special forces had in a separate incident arrested two men and one woman at 9:30 this morning in connection with the recent terror attacks in Paris in the parking lot of a Jobcenter employment office. So far it is unclear who the suspects are though initial reports indicate Salah Abdeslam, a brother of a man who took part in the attacks and whom police are searching for across Europe, is not among them. (Photo by Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images)
Policemen check the identity of motorists as part of security measures set following terrorist attacks in Paris on November 17, 2015 at the French-Belgium border in Neuville-en-Ferrain. AFP PHOTO PHILIPPE HUGUEN (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
ALSDORF, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 17: Police officers arrive at Schaufenberger Strasse street where they possibly made two arrests on November 17, 2015 in Alsdorf, Germany. Police announced earlier today that a unit of the SEK special forces had in a separate incident arrested two men and one woman at 9:30 this morning in connection with the recent terror attacks in Paris in the parking lot of a Jobcenter employment office. So far it is unclear who the suspects are though initial reports indicate Salah Abdeslam, a brother of a man who took part in the attacks and whom police are searching for across Europe, is not among them. (Photo by Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images)
Police officers patrol at the main railway station in Berlin, on November 17, 2015. Security has been tightned in Germany following the string of coordinated attacks in and around Paris late November 13, 2015 left at least 129 people dead, in the worst such violence in France's history. AFP PHOTO / DPA / KAY NIETFELD +++ GERMANY OUT +++ (Photo credit should read KAY NIETFELD/AFP/Getty Images)
ALSDORF, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 17: Police officers arrive at Schaufenberger Strasse street where they possibly made two arrests on November 17, 2015 in Alsdorf, Germany. Police announced earlier today that a unit of the SEK special forces had in a separate incident arrested two men and one woman at 9:30 this morning in connection with the recent terror attacks in Paris in the parking lot of a Jobcenter employment office. So far it is unclear who the suspects are though initial reports indicate Salah Abdeslam, a brother of a man who took part in the attacks and whom police are searching for across Europe, is not among them. (Photo by Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images)
Policemen check the identity of motorists as part of security measures set following terrorist attacks in Paris on November 17, 2015 at the French-Belgium border in Neuville-en-Ferrain. AFP PHOTO PHILIPPE HUGUEN (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Belgium special force officers us a camera as they prepare to enter a house in the Rue Delaunoy in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean of Brussels, on November 16, 2015, several days after a series of deadly attacks on the French capital Paris. During the weekend searches were carried out and multiple people were arrested in relation to the November 13 attacks in Paris which left at least 129 dead and 350 injured. Most people were killed during a concert in venue Bataclan, the other targets were a restaurant and a soccer game. The attacks have been claimed by Islamic State. AFP PHOTO/BELGA/DIRK WAEM =BELGIUM OUT= (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
Belgium special force officers prepare to enter a house in the Rue Delaunoy in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean of Brussels, on November 16, 2015, several days after a series of deadly attacks on the French capital Paris. During the weekend searches were carried out and multiple people were arrested in relation to the November 13 attacks in Paris which left at least 129 dead and 350 injured. Most people were killed during a concert in venue Bataclan, the other targets were a restaurant and a soccer game. The attacks have been claimed by Islamic State. AFP PHOTO/BELGA/DIRK WAEM =BELGIUM OUT= (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
Belgium special force officers climb the outside of a house as they prep[are to enter in the Rue Delaunoy in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean of Brussels, on November 16, 2015, several days after a series of deadly attacks on the French capital Paris. During the weekend searches were carried out and multiple people were arrested in relation to the November 13 attacks in Paris which left at least 129 dead and 350 injured. Most people were killed during a concert in venue Bataclan, the other targets were a restaurant and a soccer game. The attacks have been claimed by Islamic State. AFP PHOTO/BELGA/DIRK WAEM =BELGIUM OUT= (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers look on as an operation takes place in the Molenbeek district of Brussels on November 16, 2015. Belgian police launched a major new operation in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, where several suspects in the Paris attacks had previously lived, AFP journalists said. Armed police stood in front of a police van blocking a street in the run-down area of the capital while Belgian media said officers had surrounded a house. Belgian prosecutors had no immediate comment. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti terrorism police officers enter a building during a raid in the Mirail district in Toulouse, southwestern France, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls says there have been 150 police raids overnight in the country. (AP Photo) FRANCE OUT
A member of the special police forces takes a picture outside a house being searched in the Rue Delaunoy in Brussels on November 16, 2015. During the weekend searches were carried out and multiple people were arrested in relation to Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris. Several terrorist attacks in Paris, France, have left at least 129 dead and 350 injured. Most people were killed during a concert in venue Bataclan, the other targets were a restaurant and a soccer game. The attacks have been claimed by Islamic State. AFP PHOTO/BELGA/BENOIT DOPPAGNE (Photo credit should read BENOIT DOPPAGNE/AFP/Getty Images)
Security forces personnel walk past during ongoing operations in the Molenbeek district of Brussels on November 16, 2015. Belgian police launched a major new operation in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, where several suspects in the Paris attacks had previously lived, AFP journalists said. Armed police stood in front of a police van blocking a street in the run-down area of the capital while Belgian media said officers had surrounded a house. Belgian prosecutors had no immediate comment. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Police men prepare for a raid in Brussels on Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. A major action with heavily armed police is underway in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek amid a manhunt for a suspect of the Paris attacks. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
Police escort a woman away from the scene as an operation takes place in the Molenbeek district of Brussels on November 16, 2015. Belgian police launched a major new operation in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, where several suspects in the Paris attacks had previously lived, AFP journalists said. Armed police stood in front of a police van blocking a street in the run-down area of the capital while Belgian media said officers had surrounded a house. Belgian prosecutors had no immediate comment. AFP PHOTO / BELGA / BENOIT DOPPAGNE (Photo credit should read BENOIT DOPPAGNE/AFP/Getty Images)
Heavily armed special forces stand guard outside a house being searched in the Rue Delaunoy in Brussels on November 16, 2015. During the weekend searches were carried out and multiple people were arrested in relation to Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris. Several terrorist attacks in Paris, France, have left at least 129 dead and 350 injured. Most people were killed during a concert in venue Bataclan, the other targets were a restaurant and a soccer game. The attacks have been claimed by Islamic State. AFP PHOTO/BELGA/DIRK WAEM (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
Police men prepare for a raid in Brussels on Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. A major action with heavily armed police is underway in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek amid a manhunt for a suspect of the Paris attacks. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
Police officers man a cordon as an operation takes place in the Molenbeek district of Brussels on November 16, 2015. Belgian police launched a major new operation in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, where several suspects in the Paris attacks had previously lived, AFP journalists said. Armed police stood in front of a police van blocking a street in the run-down area of the capital while Belgian media said officers had surrounded a house. Belgian prosecutors had no immediate comment. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Heavily armed special forces stand guard outside a house being searched in the Rue Delaunoy in Brussels on November 16, 2015. During the weekend searches were carried out and multiple people were arrested in relation to Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris. Several terrorist attacks in Paris, France, have left at least 129 dead and 350 injured. Most people were killed during a concert in venue Bataclan, the other targets were a restaurant and a soccer game. The attacks have been claimed by Islamic State. AFP PHOTO/BELGA/BENOIT DOPPAGNE (Photo credit should read BENOIT DOPPAGNE/AFP/Getty Images)
Special force officers move into position outside a house being searched in the Rue Delaunoy in Brussels on November 16, 2015. During the weekend searches were carried out and multiple people were arrested in relation to Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris. Several terrorist attacks in Paris, France, have left at least 129 dead and 350 injured. Most people were killed during a concert in venue Bataclan, the other targets were a restaurant and a soccer game. The attacks have been claimed by Islamic State. AFP PHOTO/BELGA/DIRK WAEM =BELGIUM OUT= (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
An anti-bomb robot is pictured on the scene of a bomb alert at the Rue des Deux Eglises (Tweekerkenstraat street) in downtown Brussels on November 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / BELGA PHOTO / ERIC LALMAND ** Belgium Out ** (Photo credit should read ERIC LALMAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers man a cordon as an operation takes place in the Molenbeek district of Brussels on November 16, 2015. Belgian police launched a major new operation in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, where several suspects in the Paris attacks had previously lived, AFP journalists said. Armed police stood in front of a police van blocking a street in the run-down area of the capital while Belgian media said officers had surrounded a house. Belgian prosecutors had no immediate comment. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers man a cordon as an operation takes place in the Molenbeek district of Brussels on November 16, 2015. Belgian police launched a major new operation in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, where several suspects in the Paris attacks had previously lived, AFP journalists said. Armed police stood in front of a police van blocking a street in the run-down area of the capital while Belgian media said officers had surrounded a house. Belgian prosecutors had no immediate comment. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
This image taken from BFMTV, shows a car being towed away accompanied by security vehicles, in Montreuil, a suburb of Paris, overnight Saturday/Sunday Nov. 14/15, 2015. A Seat car with suspected links to the Paris attacks has been found by police in Montreuil. An official could not immediately confirm if this was the same black Seat linked to the gun attacks on the Le Carillon bar and the Le Petit Cambodge restaurant in Rue Alibert in the city's 10th district. (BFMTV via AP)
A man is detained by a police officer after a raid in the Mirail district in Toulouse, southwestern France, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls says there have been 150 police raids overnight in the country. (AP Photo) FRANCE OUT
Belgian police cordon off a street during a police raid in connection with the November 13 deadly attacks in Paris, in Brussels' Molenbeek district on November 14, 2015. Several people were arrested in Brussels on November 14 during police raids connected to the attacks in Paris, Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens said. Geens said on RTBF television that these arrests in the capital's Molenbeek neighbourhood 'can be seen in connection with a grey Polo car rented in Belgium' found near the concert hall in the French capital where scores of people were killed. AFP PHOTO / BELGA / JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE = BELGIUM OUT = (Photo credit should read JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE/AFP/Getty Images)
A car is towed during a police raid in Brussels' Molenbeek district on November 14, 2015, in connection with the November 13 deadly attacks in Paris. Several people were arrested in Brussels on November 14 during police raids connected to the attacks in Paris, Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens said. Geens said on RTBF television that these arrests in the capital's Molenbeek neighbourhood 'can be seen in connection with a grey Polo car rented in Belgium' found near the concert hall in the French capital where scores of people were killed. AFP PHOTO / BELGA / JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE = BELGIUM OUT = (Photo credit should read JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE/AFP/Getty Images)
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After the attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo earlier last year, which was carried out by Al-Qaeda operatives, local activists in a Paris banlieue worried that it would divide France even more.

"I fear for the Muslims of France," one woman wrote on an activist's Facebook page, according to Packer. "The narrow-minded or frightened are going to dig in their heels and make an amalgame" to conflate terrorists with all Muslims, the woman said.

Packer explained the context of the tensions between some French people and families who came over from Algeria:

When Algeria was settled by Europeans, in the early nineteenth century, it became part of greater France, and remained so until 1962, when independence was achieved, after an eight-year war in which seven hundred thousand people died. It's hard to overstate how heavily this intimate, sad history has been repressed. "The Battle of Algiers," the filmmaker Gillo Pontecorvo's neo-realist masterpiece about insurgency, counterinsurgency, terrorism, and torture in Algiers, was banned in France for five years after its release, in 1966, and it remains taboo there. On October 17, 1961, during demonstrations by pro-independence Algerians in Paris and its suburbs, the French police killed some two hundred people, throwing many bodies off bridges into the Seine. It took forty years for France to acknowledge that this massacre had occurred, and the incident remains barely mentioned in schools. Young people in the banlieues told me that colonial history is cursorily taught, and literature from former colonies hardly read.

Andrew Hussey, a British scholar at the University of London School of Advanced Study in Paris, told Packer: "The kids in the banlieues live in this perpetual present of weed, girls, gangsters, Islam. They have no sense of history, no sense of where they come from in North Africa, other than localized bits of Arabic that they don't understand, bits of Islam that don't really make sense."

This can be isolating for Muslims in Paris's suburbs.

Packer explained that citizens of immigrant descent "often identify whites with the term Français de souche — 'French from the roots.' The implication is that people with darker skin are not fully French."

See Also:

SEE ALSO: Salah Abdeslam, the prime suspect of the Paris attacks, wounded after police operation in Brussels

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