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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 01/07/15

Guests: Fawaz Gerges, Jeff Danziger

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thank you very much, Chris. Thank you very much. Thanks to you at home for joining us for the next hour. We do actually have breaking news right now about the search for the three suspects in the Paris massacre today. NBC News` Pete Williams says he is hearing from French authorities now that the youngest suspect of the three suspects has surrendered to French authorities. Agence France Presse, AFP, which is the French wire service, is also reporting this. This is breaking news. We`re just getting word of this right now. We`re going to go to NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams to figure out about what`s going on with this latest information. Pete, what do we know? PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: OK. Well, that is a fraught question, it turns out, because this has been a day of rapidly changing information. I give you case in point. Were there two gunmen in this or three people involved? That`s been a question all day long that`s been hard to get a good answer on. The French authorities said that there were three suspects, two of them were brothers, one aged 34, the other aged 32, the other they said was an 18-year-old. But they never gave -- never confirmed any names and indeed, I don`t think any news organization -- well, maybe some, but we haven`t reported any names. And now, they say tonight that the 18-year-old has turned himself in. That`s thing one. Unclear at this -- still at this point what role if any, the 18-year-old played in this. The second thing, Rachel, is that French authorities have now put out a wanted poster with the photographs and the names of the two older suspects in this and they`re now asking for public help in finding them. They say they are at large. Now, earlier today, about less than three hours ago, two U.S. counterterrorism authorities told NBC News that a -- a different account, that one of the suspects had been detained and two of the suspects had been killed. Now the counterterrorism officials tell us tonight that the information that was the basis of that report cannot be confirmed. So, this is just been a day like this all day long. Not unusual in one of these rapidly unfolding events, but the best information we have tonight is that two are still on the loose, that French authorities are asking them -- asking for help in finding them and that the younger person, which the French authorities had call a suspect, has turned himself in and is now talking to police. MADDOW: Pete, do we know if there is a physical locus for this information? Meaning, do we know where this 18-year-old has reportedly turned himself in to police? Do we know if they had tracked him to somewhere, or if he voluntarily came forward? I ask obviously because that might attend to the question of whether or not he was in fact involved as a co-conspirator or indeed as an attacker. WILLIAMS: Right. Fair question, and I just don`t know the answer. MADDOW: OK. Pete, in terms of further information or the prospects for information tonight, is there anything we should be watching for in terms of an official statement from the French government or the French police or anything else to look at from that? WILLIAMS: Yes, there is this official statement, this poster they`ve put out with the photographs and the names of the two and the request for public help in finding them. These two are at large. This is -- there you go. That`s what it looks like. This is a technique that many police in many nations have used. In fact, the French have used it in the past in crimes. They`ve put out something that looks very much like this and asked for public help in finding them. A lot of law enforcement agencies do this, the U.S. has done it, the FBI has done it in the past. And so, you can see the pictures look pretty much like the ones that you`re seeing here and these two brothers, who are the authorities earlier said tonight were living in France -- living in Paris not far from where this newspaper office was located. MADDOW: NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams -- thanks, Pete. As this continue to evolve, I imagine we`ll be calling you for further help with this. Thank you very much. WILLIAMS: Sure. MADDOW: Thank you. It was late this afternoon before French authorities gave any indication about who these attackers might be. Again now we believe, as far as the French authorities are indicating, that it would be two brothers and then one younger suspect. Again, Pete Williams reporting that breaking news, that according to French authorities the younger suspect, the 18- year-old may have turned himself in to police now. But if the French authorities have now released the picture and names of these two brothers on this wanted poster, that implies both that they are relatively, at least to their own satisfaction, certain of their identities, and that those two men are on the loose. It was this afternoon, before French authorities did start giving any indication of who might have been responsible. These -- as I say, these are the two men who have been identified by name and for whom we have what we believe to be pictures of them. They are believed to be brothers. Now, the man we don`t have a picture of here, the younger man, 18 years old, we`re told, and who may now be in police custody. He`s not known -- at least nobody has asserted that he`s related to the other men who are said to be in their 30s, again, the younger man 18 years old. If this information about the identity of the two older men, these two reported brothers, if it turns out to be accurate that these were the gunmen, then one of the things that people have been trying to track down today is contemporaneous news accounts in which they have either one of these men has been mentioned in any other context. And there is one news account from 2005 from "The New York Times" that suggests that at least one of these two men has been known to authorities for a long time as a terrorist or at least a wannabe terrorist. This article from "The New York Times" in 2005 names Cherif Kouachi as one of three French young men who were arrested while trying to travel from Europe to Iraq to join the fight against U.S. troops during the Iraq war. Now, he apparently never made it there. He was arrested while trying to fly to Iraq via Damascus. "The Associated Press" today says he was later convicted in France of not just trying to fight himself in the Iraq war but of trying to funnel other European fighters into that conflict. At his trial, he reportedly claimed that it was Abu Ghraib that motivated him to want to go to fight in Iraq. It was those images of U.S. troops brutalizing prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison that made him want to travel to Iraq. At that trial, he was convicted. There are conflicting reports today about whether he served time in trial after that conviction or whether he was sentenced essentially to time served. But if you were a young militant after 9/11, if you found yourself eager to fight in some jihadi campaign for the cause of violent Islamic extremism, that path that this young man tried to take in 2005 for which he was convicted in 2008, that was a very well-worn path, the war in Iraq, to a certain extent the war in Afghanistan, certainly the civil war in Syria, they`ve all served as international magnets for militant motivated Islamic extremists from all over the world, including from the United States. That`s why militant groups have been able to put up propaganda videos like this one showing Western kids tearing up their passports and ranting about how fulfilling it is to blow yourself up in fighting in some foreign country. This video from last year was put out by ISIS featured a suicide bomber who was an American who grew up in Florida. That`s him tearing up his passport and burning it. There`s also this propaganda video, this separate one that was put out. It`s showing burning passports, but this is a different video. This was put out by ISIS in November. In this case, it`s not an American kid, and not just one person. Three western guys, three French guys who are all shown tearing up their passports and doing the usual, you know, exhortations to their audience to kill, kill, kill for jihad. But in this case, in this propaganda video from November, these French guys are not just ranting at other young militants that they should come the Iraq and Syria to join in the fight with ISIS there, in this video from November, these French speaking guys are also making the case speaking in French that anybody who finds that they cannot travel to Iraq or Syria to join the fight with the Islamic State there should instead find targets at home, should instead find soft targets in France to attack for the cause of jihad. That French language video was put out by ISIS in November. And the kind of directive from that video is in keeping with some of the other strategies of international terrorist groups now, right? The al Qaeda online magazine "Inspire". "Inspire" is probably known in this country for being linked to the suspects in the Boston marathon bombing. But this magazine has been around for a few years now and it does what you`d expect, right? It tries to make heroes out of al Qaeda figures and to spread al Qaeda ideology, trying to make villains out of everyone in the West. The most recent issue features a fake interview with President Obama where President Obama tells al Qaeda about all the terrible thing he`s done and how terrible America is, right? But the point of "Inspire" as propaganda is not necessarily to try to recruit Muslim radicals to leave wherever they are in the world and travel to Yemen or Pakistan or wherever, to join existing groups of al Qaeda fighters. The point of the al Qaeda "Inspire" magazine is this stuff -- build a bomb in the kitchen of your mom, right? Or their latest detailed instructions on exactly how the make car bombs, or how to rig a pickup truck`s bumper, if you drive the truck into the right kind of pedestrian crowd. I mean, this is a Western-style English-language magazine designed specifically for readers who have Internet access and get Western cultural memes. And the whole point of Inspire as a magazine is not to draw more fighters into al Qaeda central but instead to spread al Qaeda everywhere, to spread al Qaeda ideology and very specific terroristic tactics all over the world by radicalizing individual people essentially by remote control wherever they are -- don`t travel, carry out your terrorist attack at home. The point of "Inspire" is to literally inspire al Qaeda-style attacks in the West, among English-speaking militants that are separate from any direct al Qaeda instruction or in-person training at some training camp in Afghanistan or something. Less than a year ago, "Inspire" published a hit list for top priority Western targets. They titled the list, "a bullet a day keeps the infidel away." That`s kind of the tone of the al Qaeda magazine. Their whole list is all Western targets and Western countries, people who have committed some perceived insults to Islam. The list includes author Salman Rushdie who has been under death threats for decades now. Also, the Koran burning crazy pastor guy in Florida was there. But mostly, it`s people involved in drawing and publishing cartoons that depicted the Prophet Mohammed. You remember that scandal that started in some Scandinavian papers, Danish and Swedish cartoonists who created those, editors who have published them, other cartoonists and editors who have republished them, they`re all on the list. One of the people on the al Qaeda hit list that was published in inspire magazine last spring is the editor of "Charlie Hebdo", who was one of the 12 people killed today in the assault on their offices in Paris. And we`ll know more, if and when French authorities capture the suspects in this case. Again, the breaking news reporting right at the top of this hour from Pete Williams is that the younger suspect in this case, the 18-year-old, may have turned himself into French authorities but French authorities have now released a wanted poster with photographs and names of what were considered to be the two older suspects in this attack, the two suspects who appear perhaps to be brothers. So, we`ll know more if and when they`re found. But from what we know now, what happened today in Paris seems like it is the latest and bloodiest iteration of what seems to have become the modern form, our current form of al Qaeda-style low-tech or even no-tech Western terror attacks. It`s not complicated stuff, but it`s happening a lot. In France in 2012, a 24-year-old French Muslim claiming allegiance to al Qaeda, he basically terrorized that country and killed seven people over three attacks that spanned more than a week. Think about that, more than a week the guy was on the loose. On March 11th that year, he shot and killed an off-duty soldier on the street. Four days later on March 15th, he shot and killed two French paratroopers and injured a third. Four days after that, on March 19th, he rode the same motor scooter he rode in the previous attacks and took the same gun and he attacked a French school. He killed four people including three kids. It was all the same guy on the same motor bike with the same gun. He was filming all the assaults on a GoPro style camera. When he started to upload the tapes of his attacks, bragging about what he had done, French authorities intervened to stop any media outlets from showing that tape. Eventually, that guy was cornered at an apartment in Toulouse, and he died in a dramatic and violent gunfight with police. That all happened in March 2012 in France -- one guy with a motor scooter and a gun. The following year, May 2013, it was two attackers in Britain, two attackers working together who committed the bloody murder of a British soldier -- a man apparently chosen at random on the street in London. The two attackers were both Muslim converts. They said they were avenging the killing of Muslims by British armed forces. That was May 2013. Almost exactly one year later, in May 2014, a young French Muslim who had fought in Syria came back to Europe and attacked the Jewish museum in Brussels. He killed three people at the scene and one person he injured but that person died later. That attacker at the French -- excuse me, at the Jewish museum in Brussels, that attacker was initially able to get away. He eluded capture for about a week before police finally tracked him down in Marseilles. That was May of last year. And this style of very low-tech, very low-tech, very low-level planned homegrown attack, hitting local targets and the West, it hasn`t just been in Europe. In Australia, in September, there are these huge counterterrorism raids conducted in multiple cities, and immediately thereafter, on September 23rd, an 18-year-old who had flown the Islamic State flag, who had had his passport revoked by police, he was shot and killed by police after he stabbed two police officers in Melbourne, Australia. Less than a month after that, in Quebec, in Canada, a man used his car to deliberately run over two Canadian soldiers. He killed one and wounded another. Police shot that attacker and killed him at the scene. Just two days later, a different radicalized young Canadian who stormed the parliament, terrorizing the capital city of Ottawa and killing one Canadian soldier. Those were unconnected attacks, two days apart. Back in Australia again, it was December 15th, a radicalized Australian well known to police and security services, he took 18 people hostage at a Sydney cafe and put up the flag of the Islamic state in the window. He killed two of the hostages. He wounded four others before he himself was killed by police. Police were only able to end that siege after a 16-hour incredibly dramatic standoff. And now this today in Paris -- and in some ways it fits the pattern of these previous low planning, low-tech, low-skill assaults. In some ways it fits that pattern, but in some ways it doesn`t. In Paris this morning, it was apparently two, possibly three attackers, they appear to have been dressed identically, wearing relatively modern and efficient combat-style gear. They were apparently comfortable and relatively competent handling the high-powered weapons with which they were armed. They seem to have a relatively well-coordinated attack plan, which included not just getting there just in time for the weekly editorial meeting of the magazine they were attacking, but it also included them getting away after their attack, and eluding authorities all day long and into tonight. It`s a metastasization of terrorism for al Qaeda to have tried to devolve itself, so it no longer needs to command or control or directly train anyone in order to spread its lethality across the globe. Instead of highly trained foreign operatives being coordinated from abroad to infiltrate a foreign target and attack in some highly coordinated fashion, al Qaeda 2.0 essentially stop doing that. There hasn`t been another 9/11 style attack. They`ve essentially traded away the possibility of a big scale incredibly complex plot like a 9/11 for what they`ve been doing since and especially recently, these more lone wolf style, low-tech easy operations. They`re basically murder plots. That would be hard to predict and hard to defend against. But they couldn`t be as lethal as anything that could be planned on a 9/11 scale, all right, where you need much better coordination, much more lead time and many more attackers. Does what happened in Paris today indicate that we`ve moved on to basically a third iteration of the al Qaeda threat? One that is unpredictable and hard to see coming because it is homegrown, it`s not foreign fighters being directed by some central terrorist HQ somewhere far away. But instead of just being a lone wolf killing one or two people or whoever he can get his hands on, it`s now a threat posed by small cells, groups of militants working together, apparently working together well, who are able to pull off not a massive attack on the scale of something again like 9/11 or the London subway attacks, but they are able to pull off a coordinated attack on even a protected target? And, as they did today in Paris, they were able to get a large death toll, a dozen people killed today, and then they escaped thereafter. We saw al Qaeda devolve into an organization that would attack more frequently in the West but less lethally. Does today show that this style of terrorism is evolving to now be both frequent and increasingly lethal? And if so, what`s the plan to stop it? We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The breaking news at this hour on the manhunt for the suspects who carried out today`s massacre in Paris is that French authorities now say the youngest suspect, an 18-year-old man, has surrendered to French authorities. French authorities have also just in the last few minutes released this wanted poster for the other two suspects. Joining us now from Paris is NBC News chief global correspondent Bill Neely. Bill, thanks for being with us, especially at this late hour. Appreciate it. BILL NEELY, NBC NEWS CHIEF GLOBAL CORRESPONDENT: You`re welcome, Rachel. Yes, the French police say fairly certain of who they`re looking for. They`ve issued, as you say, photographs of two men that they describe as armed and extremely dangerous. As you said earlier, they are two brothers, the Kouachi brothers, Cherif and Said -- Cherif who was convicted of terrorist offenses ten years ago and given 18 months in jail for trying to gather together men to fight American troops in Iraq and his brother Said, who we believe may have returned from Syria in August of last year, one of roughly 300 French nationals who French counterterrorism officials say have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. So, French officials pretty certain that they are looking for these two brothers, but as with every terrorist incident of this kind, and I covered London in 2005 and the Madrid train bombings which killed nearly 200 people. And just after an event like this, you tend to get a great deal of false leads and misinformation from officials and so it was today. So, American counterintelligence officials briefed NBC News that two of the suspects had been arrested and one had been killed. They are now saying that they`re not certain about that. And they`re not certain about the whole status of the three suspects. Obviously, French police did not confirm what U.S. counterterrorism officials were saying. So, amid all the shows of defiance on the streets here, the anger, the passion, there is also confusion, not least from officials. But it does now seem that French officials know who these two main gunmen who we saw in those videos are and the manhunt is very much on. MADDOW: Bill, in terms of the French authorities and their orientation towards these suspects, the fact that they`ve put out this wanted poster again calling them armed and dangerous, saying that they`re at large implies that it`s wide open in terms of a manhunt. Do we have any reporting or any indication where they`re looking for, these men, when they fear they may be part of an ongoing plot that is sort of a part two, do we have any indication of that? NEELY: Well, there was a counterterrorism operation in the city of Reims, in the Champagne region, about 90 miles northeast of Paris. That is roughly the route that the men took in their get-away car, heading out of Paris, northeast towards the suburbs. But again, there is no confirmation that that anti-terrorist operation which involved commandos and a police helicopter was, in fact, linked to the two brothers or to the 18-year-old who has given himself into police. What we do know is that police across France and troops have been on alert. Paris is ringed, apparently with police and troops and the manhunt is nationwide. MADDOW: Bill Neely, NBC News chief global correspondent -- Bill, thank you so much. Appreciate having you here. All right. We`ve got much more ahead on this story tonight and others. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is the Web site for the magazine "Charlie Hebdo" tonight., which is France, right? If you want to look for yourself. The place is all black except for the words "Je Suis Charlie". Or I am Charlie. There`s nothing left to click on at the Web site anymore, except for that one link at the bottom that you can see as PDF link. If you go to that PDF it provides signs on that slogan. It`s there in seven different languages. It`s there in Farsi, and in German and in Spanish and in Catalan and in Czech, and in Arabic, and in Russian. That slogan, "I am Charlie," which you can download in sign form from the "Charlie Hebdo" Web site tonight, that slogan is now all over the world. This was the scene in Paris tonight where thousands stood in Paris` republic square with signs saying, "I am Charlie" or "We are Charlie." The signs under the famous Republic Square monument in colorful all caps spelling out "Not afraid". "Not afraid" was the general theme throughout France and much of the world today. Thousands of people holding rallies in solidarity with the victims of the attack. In London`s Trafalgar Square, they sang France`s national anthem. In Brussels, they held up pens in solidarity with the victims of this morning`s attack. In Geneva, in Switzerland, they lit candles at a makeshift in honor of the victims. In Germany, they gathered near the French embassy in Berlin, holding up old issues of "Charlie Hebdo," the magazine. In Spain, they gathered around the French embassy and at the French consulate they held up signs saying "Je Suis Charlie" and "Solidarity with Charlie". Excuse me. In New York City, they gathered in Union Square holding up the same signs, as everybody did in Europe. Everybody knows that little bit of French. In Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, they held up signs both in French and in Portuguese. In Montreal, the mayor lowered the flag to half mast, as he led a vigil outside city hall. The tragedy this morning in Paris has struck a nerve all over the world tonight. There`s really no translation required. Joining us is Fawaz Gerges. Fawaz is a professor of Middle Eastern studies and international relations at LSE, London School of Economics. Professor Gerges, thank you very much for being with us tonight in the middle of the night. I really appreciate it. FAWAZ GERGES, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Pleasure. MADDOW: What can you explain to us about why France has become such a target for terrorist attacks? I was struck today looking at some of the terrible ISIS propaganda how frequently France specifically is singled out by these international terrorist groups as being such an enemy for them. GERGES: You know, Rachel, for militants of al Qaeda variety, whether you`re talking about ISIS or you`re talking about al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, in Yemen, or whether the al Qaeda, the parent organization, France today is public enemy number one. France today is a much more immediate enemy than the United States of America. This might come to you and your viewers really as surprising. Why? For two reasons. French is -- France is deeply now engaged all-out war against militants in West Africa and Mali, in central Africa, in North Africa, in Iraq and Syria. France really has taken on basically a mission as big as the United States. This is the first point. The second point I think a much more critical point than the military engagement, the cultural component. The cultural component is that in the eyes of militants of al Qaeda variety, in particular the al Qaeda branch in Yemen and ISIS, France is waging all-out war against the Islamic identity, cultural war, in terms of hijab, in terms of secularism, in terms of allowing its assertive media to basically insult the prophet to the cartoonists and what-have-you. And that`s why both ISIS and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula have called on their followers to basically carry out attacks, individual attacks and networks attacks. And the irony here is that the choice of "Charlie", the newspaper, is a very symbolic choice. This is "Charlie" basically stands for France. Charlie basically is the symbol of France, both the military and the cultural and as one of the basically attackers, one of the conspirators, reportedly said, "We have exacted vengeance, we have basically done good for the prophet against France itself." And this tells you about basically the symbolism, the cultural component behind today`s attacks. MADDOW: Fawaz, there was a report tonight that was echoed on our air a couple of minutes ago. It was in "USA Today" that the brothers were born in Paris of Algerian descent, that both brothers -- we`ve heard reports that one brother perhaps both brothers have been in Syria and have recently traveled back as recently as this past summer from fighting in Syria. Is there any way to know to what extent the conflict in Syria, this now long fight in western Iraq and Syria is essentially being used as a training ground to disperse fighters back to the West instead of keeping them there in that fight locally? GERGES: Rachel, simply, we don`t have information, neither the Americans nor the French nor the British really have adequate information. Basically the formations, the complexity, the strategies and what-have-you, because if you really take a deeper look at ISIS, Rachel, ISIS differ substantively from al Qaeda. The major target of ISIS is not the West, is not the far enemy. The major target of ISIS is the near enemy, local Muslim leaders. The reason why now you`re seeing this particular sense of confrontation because the United States, this international coalition led by the United States, has taken on ISIS and that`s why the YouTubes, that`s why the statements, that`s why the incitement for ISIS followers to attack Western targets. But the reality is you have about between 2,000 and 500 and 3,000 Western fighters, including 150 Americans. And Western states, Western countries, the intelligence services are very much concerned about these particular fighters if and when they return to their own countries. As you said earlier, yourself, quite a few Frenchmen have returned and some of them have carried out attacks. But the reality is, I mean, in particular the two brothers. We know that Said might have fought in Syria, Cherif, the story is extremely ambiguous, but he`s part of what we call the Iraqi generation, after the American invasion. This -- the American invasion occupation of Iraq really radicalized and militarized a large number of young Muslim men in the heart of the European continent. Cherif, this particular Cherif basically became interested in the Iraq campaign in 2005. MADDOW: Professor Gerges, thank you so much for your time, particularly given the time difference tonight. I really appreciate you being with us. GERGES: Pleasure. MADDOW: Thank you. Again, the reports that we have, the information that we`ve got about whether or not one or both of these brothers was in Syria and returned from Syria, "USA Today" is reporting that both brothers returned from Syria this summer. We`ve heard from Bill Neely earlier this hour that there are some reports about one of the brothers, about Said, but not Cherif, those are unconfirmed reports at this point. Obviously, it`s a matter of intense interest because this attack in Paris, however it was inspired, there will be intense international interest in finding out whether there was an operational relationship with an international terror group like ISIS or like al Qaeda and what these guys did today. It matters not much in the moment whether or not you were homegrown or whether you were sent by somebody else, but matters a lot in terms of how these groups are dismantled and attacked by the security forces in the countries that want to see the end of it. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SUBTITLE: Among those killed in Paris today were four cartoonists. Bernard Verlhac was one of the four. He signed his work as Tignous. Tignous did this drawing for the group Clowns sans frontieres. (MUSIC) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Obviously, the main news on the radar right now is the mass shooting terrorist attack on a Paris magazine this morning and the ongoing manhunt for two of the gunmen believed to be responsible for the attack after a third has reportedly turned himself in to police tonight. But if you are also wanting to keep track of the latest in Washington, you should know that today was the first business day in the new Congress. Yesterday, the day they were all sworn in, the White House announced that President Obama will veto the first legislation, the Republicans say they will pass -- a bill on the Keystone oil pipeline. That was yesterday. Today, the White House said the president will also veto the second piece of legislation the Republicans would pass. It`s a bill to change rules under Obamacare for how a full-time work week is defined. Republicans say now they`re in charge in Washington, that bill and Keystone is the top priorities. White House says both those will be vetoed as soon as they pass. So, there`s a lot else going on in the news today. But in Washington, with the new Congress, it appears to be full speed ahead down a very short street that ends in a dead end. Lots more to come tonight, though. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: There`s more ahead tonight. But just so you know, the latest French authorities have just published a wanted poster with two of the men they say were attackers or at least suspected of being the attackers in the attack on that French magazine this morning in Paris. This wanted poster has just been put out in the last hour. French police calling these two brothers armed and dangerous, and they are on the loose. The manhunt continues. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In the mid-1980s, soon after he started his third term as governor of Louisiana, Edwin Edwards was put on trial for multiple felony charges. He beat the rap and served out his term as governor, but then when he tried to run for a fourth term, he lost. Four years later, though, he got very, very lucky, because that year when he decided to make a comeback bid for governor, the Republican Party ended up choosing as their candidate to run against him a Ku Klux Klan guy, David Duke, who incidentally finds himself back in the news because of his ties to the new Republican leadership in Congress. But back in 1991, David Duke was Edwin Edwards` salvation as he ran for office again after his multiple felony indictments. And that governor`s race, Edwin Edwards versus the Klan guy, that gave rise to the greatest bumper sticker in modern American politics, "Vote for the crook: it`s important." Meaning, yes, Edwin Edwards is a crook, but he`s not the Klan. And with messaging like that, Edwin Edwards won. In France, they have their own version of this story and it dates back a little further. I`ll give you fair warning here, if you can read French, here comes a swear, but I promise I won`t say it out loud. This was a cover of "Charlie Hebdo" magazine in 1971. Vote for the -- French word that means an anatomical swear word that I will not translate. Vote for the bleep, then below it, it says, you don`t have a choice. Obviously what this means is all the candidates in the forthcoming election are bleeps. Whoever you vote for, you are voting for a bleep. You don`t have a choice not to. "Daily Beast" reposted that old cover today, and noted that that sentiment, and that icon, right, basically it still shows up in French graffiti more than 40 years earlier because it basically perfectly captures the sentiment of people feeling they`ve got lousy candidates who are all the same. And whether or not it is your style to like the swear word there, or the cynical jab of that message, this is a very effective satire. And the newspaper that published that has had a few different iterations over the years. That newspaper has been banned in France at one point. But they`ve always been that edgy and beyond in their satire. When a French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested on sexual assault charges in New York, this guy was a big, big deal in France. He was the head of the International Monetary Fund. He`d been a big-time presidential candidate in France. "Charlie Hebdo", the magazine, took its usual glee putting Dominique Strauss-Kahn on its cover in the middle of that scandal, but they put him on their cover in a shower of condoms. When the fashion designer John Galliano was arrested after an anti- Semitic rant and a bar fight, "Charlie Hebdo" put him on their cover as well, with him using a far right anti-Semitic French politician as a mannequin for his fashion show, a sort of Germanic (ph) fashion show. But mostly what "Charlie Hebdo" has earned the most heat for over the years is its deeply irreverent, purposely inflammatory spoofing of religions. And they have loved spoofing and attacking everyone. This one shows a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim, all yelling that the magazine must be veiled. But what they have provoked the most ire with and what they have been physically attacked for in the past, even before today, is depictions of Islam, including their role in the cartoons of Mohammed crisis in 2005 and 2006. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: The rage and protests escalated across the Muslim world. In Afghanistan, several hundred demonstrators attacked Western bases and military forces. Three Afghans were killed in one battle. Thousands marched in Pakistan, Indonesia, Iraq and Iran to protest the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed published in Denmark and republished elsewhere in Europe. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: One of the outlets that republished it was "Charlie Hebdo." It printed a caricature of Prophet Mohammed on its cover. It prevented the Scandinavian cartoons inside. That issue sold 400,000 copies. It drew criticism from France`s presidents, among others, but "Charlie Hebdo" didn`t flinch. Five years later, the newspaper announced an issue to be satirically guest-edited by Mohammed. After that, its offices were fire bombed in 2011. That`s editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier who was killed in today`s shootings, standing in front of the wreckage after they were firebombed in 2011. When the offices of "Charlie Hebdo" were attacked today by three masked gunmen, when 12 people were killed including eight journalists, two of the non-journalists who were killed were police officers. Part of working at "Charlie Hebdo" meant police protection because of that past attack and because of the threats that they received over and over again. That magazine did not get any less provocative or any less profane or biting or edgy. Despite the threats they got, despite the past violence, despite their editor being put on an international hit list by al Qaeda, around the time the controversy was happening over the Mohammed cartoons, you might remember that an American syndicated political cartoonist named Jeff Danziger published this as his take on the bravery and the threat and the chilling effect of attacking people, attacking commentators, attacking cartoonists and editors with violence. It says, "Have you always wanted to be a cartoonist? This could be your lucky day. The regular cartoonist didn`t come in today. If you`re interested, why not try your hand? We thought something on terrorists, something funny, brave, biting and irreverent. Pay no attention to that man crawling over the table." Joining us now is Jeff Danziger, "New York Times" syndicated political cartoonist. Mr. Danziger, thank you for being here tonight. JEFF DANZIGER, NEW YORK TIMES SYNDICATED POLITICAL CARTOONIST: Nice to be here. MADDOW: I have to ask just first of all in your profession and knowing who you know, what your reaction is to what happened today in Paris? DANZIGER: This morning, I was horrified by it. I know some of those people. And I followed the other threats that have been made against "Charlie Hebdo" through the years. And I would have to say that these people aren`t terrorists, they`re just murderers. If they were really terrorists, "Charlie Hebdo" would have gone out of business and they have started to censor themselves. But they obviously weren`t terrorized. They went ahead and did very brave, very hard-hitting cartoons week after week. MADDOW: After what happened in 2005 and 2006, and the ongoing, at least attempted terrorization that has sprung from that controversy, in the political cartooning world, in the publication -- in the publishing world, in the part of publishing that has been so attacked and so threatened because of those cartoons and everything that`s happened since, is there anything that you guys want more than your getting in terms of support and protection and in terms of people standing up for your rights? DANZIGER: I think we get plenty of support. We -- the important thing in our work is to do something that`s new and original every day. And when the story, as you can see, goes on with the same low ebb of violence and today a very high ebb of violence, the difficulty is to point out something new about what`s going on. I think what you were saying today is their tendency is that their plan is to try to replace large terrorist advances like 9/11 here with the constant, on the ground, here and there -- things that are really pretty difficult to defend against. MADDOW: Jeff Danziger, "New York Times" syndicated political cartoonist, who`s done some really edgy and brilliant work on the subject that was the basis of these attacks today, apparently. Mr. Danziger, thanks for being here tonight. Appreciate it. DANZIGER: Thank you. MADDOW: Thanks. We`ll be right back. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It`s now approaching the morning hours in France, where a man is still for two of the three individuals suspected of launching that terrorist attack early this morning at the offices of the satirical magazine, "Charlie Hebdo." At this hour, we`re told the youngest of the three suspects apparently an 18-year-old has surrendered to police, but the search is still on for the two older suspects in this attack. French police tonight have put out this wanted poster with the names and images of those two suspects. They`re calling the two armed and dangerous. And they`re asking the public for any information about their whereabouts. Solidarity vigils continue around the world tonight. French President Francois Hollande has called for a national day of mourning tomorrow. For the 12 people who were killed in this morning`s attacks. Our coverage continues now with "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Good evening, Lawrence. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END