One year after ISIS terrorists killed 130 people in attacks across Paris, the city remains on edge, with residents still grappling with traumatic memories and security authorities there, including members of the NYPD, working to stop the next attack, the I-Team discovered in a recent visit overseas.
"I still have nightmares," said Anne Sophie de Chaisemartin, who lives near the Bataclan Theatre where terrorists killed 89 people attending a concert on Nov. 13, 2015. Others were killed in a café below Sophie’s apartment. She recalled running down to help, arriving before first responders.
"I saw about 15 bodies lying on the floor. A lot of smoke from the gunshots. A smell of gunpowder," she told the I-Team. "And then a woman looked into my eyes. She was lying on the floor and she asked for help and I will never forget this look. She just reached her hand like this, like in a horror movie."
As de Chaisemartin, who helped save the life of an American woman in the café, struggles with emotional trauma from that night, she’s also worried about another attack.
“I think we’re stuck in some kind of a nightmare here because we’re, like, expecting the next one to arrive,” she said.
French authorities have been operating in a state of emergency since the attacks. Thousands of extra police and military units have been deployed throughout the country, especially landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame.
The country has also been traumatized by more attacks this year, including the murder of a police officer and his wife in June, and a priest in July. ISIS claimed responsibility for both attacks. The terror group was also suspected initially in the truck attack in Nice that killed 86 people. In Paris alone, authorities said they have made 15 terror-related arrests in just the last three months.
To stop the next attack, authorities in France are working closely with security forces around the world, including the New York Police Department. The NYPD has intelligence officers stationed in Paris, in part to share information in real time.
The biggest concern, officials say, are the 1,700 French citizens who traveled to Syria in the past few years.
"We know there are ongoing plots. We know some of these foreign fighters have returned," an NYPD detective told the I-Team. The detective, whose name is being withheld out of security concerns, said geography makes the numbers of fighters far more concerning in Europe than in the United States.
"It’s more difficult to get to Syria from the U.S. versus leaving from France or Belgium," he said.
While the heightened security makes residents like de Chaisemartin feel safer in the Batacalan neighborhood, it’s also a reminder of the constant danger, fueling a fear for some that Paris may never fully recover.
"I hate myself when I feel this, but now it’s our daily life. It will happen again," said de Chaisemartin. "Can I ask you a question? How do you feel after September 11th? How did you manage to get over it? I think you, America, all the people who lived this 9/11 horror might be in the same state as we are."