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Edmonton terrorism expert weighs in on Paris attack

WATCH ABOVE: A University of Alberta terrorism and security expert appears on Thursday’s Global Edmonton Morning News to discuss the attack at a Paris magazine. 

EDMONTON – A University of Alberta terrorism and security expert wonders what type of impact the attack at the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo will have on the media.

“Is this going to silent the press?” asks Thomas Butko.

He says the primary intent of attacks like Wednesday’s in Paris is more to change the behaviour of other people than it is to harm the victims.

READ MORE: ‘Je Suis Charlie’ message goes viral after Paris attack

The terrorism expert is surprised that an attack of this magnitude was carried out at Charlie Hebdo, despite previous threats towards the weekly magazine for publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, among other controversial sketches.

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“You would figure that something like that would be well defended. And certainly the editor that was killed had his own body guard.”

READ MORE: Why was Charlie Hebdo magazine targeted in the Paris shooting?

Based on video footage of the attack, Butko thinks the attackers were well trained.

“Just the way that they conducted this as an operation… and I believe that one witness … actually thought the two gentlemen were from the elite French anti-terrorist squad.”

French police continued a manhunt Thursday north of Paris for two heavily armed men, one with possible links to al-Qaida, a day after the attack that killed 12 people. A third suspect surrendered to police early Thursday.

READ MORE: Manhunt for ‘Charlie Hebdo’ attack suspects moves north of Paris

Butko believes Wednesday’s attack is another example that home-grown terrorists are now a bigger threat than foreign terrorists to countries like France and Canada.

“We’re not looking at the scale of a 9/11 where we’re going to have planes flying in with huge explosions or other things.

“What we’re dealing with is, and again, not just lone wolves but one or two or three or a small group of people carrying out an assault.”

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There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

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