New Normal? Parisians Fear Terror Attacks Are Just the Beginning

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By Cassandra Vinograd and Sarah Burke

PARIS, France — Tears and sadness are around — but there’s something different in the air in Paris.

When Islamist extremists attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo earlier this year, the French capital was united in mourning and in determination to stand up to terrorism.

Ten months later, another terrorist atrocity has claimed the lives of 130 people. There are memorials throughout Paris, shows of support and unity.

"That’s how it goes in war — attack, revenge, attack, revenge, revenge, revenge"

The French government has vowed to punish the perpetrators. But mixed in with pledges of resolve is a quiet resignation that this might be the new normal, the beginning of a less innocent age.

"This isn't going to stop,” said 28-year-old Hamza as he stood on a corner in the suburb of Saint-Denis amid a massive police operation targeting the alleged ringleader of last week's attacks. “Hatred ... It’s deep inside.”

As he spoke, his friends — all of Tunisian origin — shook their heads in agreement. They were discussing the Paris attacks with another female neighbor, who happened to be white.

“These are not Muslims,” the visibly shaken woman said of the Paris attackers. “Muslims don’t kill like this.”

Hamza and his friends nodded in agreement again — but as “unbelievable” as the attacks were, he said, they’re “not going to end.”

Particularly unsettling to many in Paris and the surrounds is that while Charlie Hebdo was a specific target — the satirical magazine printed controversial cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad — this spate of ISIS-linked attacks was random.

"As youngsters we are a lot more concerned this time," 20-year-old Hugo Kennedy told NBC News while watching sports in a St-Germain bar this week. "It’s our generation."

He said as a young Parisian he easily “could have been there” — he’s been to the Bataclan many times.

"Last time was a lot more symbolic but this time it felt a lot more like our way of life was affected,” the student at Sciences-Po explained. “They attacked clubs and restaurants on a Friday night."

“Terrorism used to be on the TV ... it never touched me directly,” said 30-year-old Laure Peyny. “[These attacks] shows that at any moment in your life they can and want to hit us.”

Peyny, a Parisian event planner, resisted coming to Place de la Republique to pay homage in the immediate aftermath of the attacks but eventually came Thursday to take in the tributes and pay her respects.

"Even if we are determined to keep living we are resigned because we know it’s going to happen again,” Peyny said. “We won’t give up , that’s not how we were raised as French. We don’t want to stay inside. But if they want to hit us again they can. We know.”

Rachid, 34, said the difference between the Hebdo attacks and the current threat is “very clear” and “much more scary” because there was no “definitive target" in last week's killings.

“To attack Bataclan and the streets — they attacked the people,” he said. “I'm not a soldier, I'm not working for a magazine ... It's different. When you attack the people — me, my wife, it's absolutely worse. There's no comparison."

He was driving near the Bataclan concert venue at the time of the attack saw people running. He let six of them into his car to spirit them away.

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“They jumped in and said 'Go! Go! Go!',” he recalled with a sigh. The attacks hit close to home again on Wednesday when an apartment near his home in Saint-Denis was raided.

Like many in the northern suburb, he was woken by gunfire early that morning.

“It was impressive the noise — clack, clack, clack, clack, clack,” he said. “And big explosions.”

Unfortunately, Rachid said, it’s “only logical” that there will be more attacks in France.

“Look — France attacked ISIS in Syria. They hit back,” the chauffeur and married father explained. “France hit again ... so now they’ll strike here again. That’s how it goes in war — attack, revenge, attack, revenge, revenge, revenge.”

Pointing to soldiers stationed on the street corners around him, Rachid said “it shouldn’t be like this.”

“We want soldiers out of our streets, we want terrorists out of our cities,” he said. "But there’s no reason to see why this would stop. As long as France is implicated in foreign conflicts outside there will be repercussions inside.”

Jacqueline Teillet, 81, likened the country's new "war” against ISIS to the fight against the Nazis in World War II.

“The kids in the theater, they didn’t do anything ... and there were Muslims among them,” she said at Place de la Republique, where she had come with her husband, Jean, to lay flowers.

She also thought there could easily be more attacks in Paris -- “maybe not today but in two, three months.”

However, she stopped short of saying it was inevitable and expressed optimism France would prevail. After all, she said, “we won the last war.”