It has now been revealed that the terrorist attacks on the fringes of the Stade de France, injuring 31 and putting 15 people between life and death, were not carried out as the three suicide bombers had intended.
As revealed by L’Équipe, all three individuals wanted to enter the Stade de France, to cause unparalleled carnage in the stands. The international friendly match between France and Germany had been underway for several minutes, when each of the suicide bombers presented themselves at the three remaining entrances that were open to the Stade de France after kick-off.
Excluding the two other entrances reserved for VIPs and the media, these were the only three gates that were open, the other 15 were shut.
The FFF was in charge of the security operation at the Stade de France that evening, because they were the organisers of the match in question. They had concentrated the vast majority of their security inside the stadium, where more than 70,000 people had gathered to watch this international friendly.
At 21:05 local time, the first suicide bomber attempted to enter the stadium from the the eastern sector, the second from the northern sector. Both times, each individual was refused entry by security because they did not have a ticket for the match, despite what several foreign media outlets claimed last night.
Even if they would have had a ticket for the match, it is very unlikely that they would have got past the second wave of security in any case.
After their initial plan failed, the two suicide bombers decided to detonate three minutes before the end of the 1st half. One was close to a brasserie called “Events” by Gate D and the other was next to the fast-food restaurant Quick, by Gate J. The aim of this Plan B?
Possibly to cause panic inside the stadium, to encourage the spectators to leave, notably via the metro RER B, close to McDonalds, where the third suicide bomber was undoubtedly waiting. The third terrorist blew himself up at half-time.
When the first explosion was heard inside the stadium, at 21:17 local time, the early theory was that a gas cylinder had exploded inside a chip shop, because CCTV footage showed white smoke coming out of this shop at the time of the explosion.
It was only after the second explosion that the security services realised the gravity of what was unfolding.
Everything, after that moment, happened very quickly. In the stand where France President François Hollande was sitting, several politicians began to sit around him, including Claude Bartolone, the president of the National Assembly, Stéphane Le Foll, the Minister for Agriculture and Thierry Braillard the Secretary of State for Sports.
A security officer informs François Hollande of the situation that was unfurling and the French President waits for two minutes before entering a lounge at the top of the stand where a makeshift office was made for him.
A decision is taken very quickly that because after security checks, the Stade de France is secure, that nobody must be allowed to leave.
A crisis meeting was held at half-time by François Hollande and the relevant ministers who were inside the stadium as well as FFF President Noël Le Graët and FFF match organiser Erwan Le Prévost. It was during this meeting that it was decided that the match should continue.
Even though telephone reception in the Stade de France is weak, certain fans inside the stadium began to become aware of the developing situation outside the stadium. But the gates, purposefully closed, prevented people from leaving the Stade de France.
After the full-time whistle, a new exit strategy from the stadium was deployed so that the members of public would not pass-by the three zones where the explosions occurred. The evacuation of the stadium occurred almost without any problems, until an individual threw firecrackers into the crowd, believing that he was being confronted by terrorists.
Panic then occurs. An order is then passed to allow individuals onto the pitch. The entrance to the dressing rooms, and the goals, were protected, in order to prevent anybody from being crushed.
On the pitch, there were people taking photos, people on their smartphones looking for the latest updates, people on their phones calling their loved-ones, people crying too, shocked and dismayed by the nightmarish evening that they are having.
They leave the stadium calmly, perhaps the majority were in shock, but relieved to be alive.