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Some, like the four cartoonists who were the first victims to be identified, were well known. While less famous, the names of the others, such as Ahmed Merabet, the 42-year-old police officer of Arab ancestry who was gunned down in the street outside, are already being talked about to underline the savage, indiscriminate nature of the killings.

Together, they were the 12 gunned down when three men armed with assault rifles stormed into the offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Stéphane Charbonnier


Stéphane Charbonnier, the chief editor of Charlie Hebdo, also drew some of its more acerbic cartoons under the pen name Charb.

For the past three years, he had been under police protection after the satirical magazine published a special issue entitled “Charia Hebdo,” a reference to Islamic sharia law.

In the ensuing days, threats poured in, Charlie Hebdo’s offices were firebombed and its website hacked. He later said he had no regrets, despite having to live with a police guard close by, “I have no kids, no wife, no car, no credit, so this will sound pompous, but I’d rather die standing up than live on my knees,” he told an interviewer in 2012.

Crude, caustic and a tad misanthropic in his published work, the 47-year-old Mr. Charbonnier was in person placid and soft-spoken.

He grew up in Pontoise, a small town north of Paris, the son of a post employee and a secretary.

According to a profile in Libération, Mr. Charbonnier’s grandfather, a shopkeeper, loathed the labour movement. At family dinners, his right-wing grandfather would clash with his father, a unionized worker who voted Socialist.

Mr. Charbonnier joined Charlie Hebdo in 1992 and became its chief editor two years ago.

Mr. Charbonnier was staunchly anti-clerical.

He denied he was Islamophobic. “I am an atheist. I am not afraid of Islam but of fundamentalists of all creeds,” he said in the 2012 interview. He said he also mocked other religions.

Jean Cabut


Jean Cabut helped relaunch Charlie Hebdo in 1992, but he wasn’t just known as a controversial caricaturist in France. Over his career he created comics and cartoons dedicated to children and teenagers, and a book on jazz. As a young man, he dreamed of being the drummer in the Cab Calloway band.

Among his better-known works was the comic Le Grand Duduche, which in the 1960s and ’70s documented the travails of an awkward teenage boy who bore a striking resemblance to the artist. Another character, Mon Beauf, was a wicked send-up of a stupid and vulgar everyman and became part of the French lexicon.

Mr. Cabut was born in Châlons-sur-Marne in 1938. Described as shy and sensitive, he completed mandatory military service in the late 1950s in Algeria, which he described as a horror. In 1996, he told Libération he wished he’d deserted instead.

His son, French singer Mano Solo, suffered from AIDS and died following a series of aneurysms in 2010 at the age of 46.

A few weeks ago, during a radio appearance, Mr. Cabut said: “Our offices were burned by Molotov cocktails because of a few drawings. It’s ridiculous and appalling. Artists have always been on the forefront of the struggle against fanatics, of all religions. We’ve knocked Catholics too. But Muslim radicals don’t even recognize caricature. We can’t really reach an understanding.”

Bernard Verlhac


Bernard Verlhac was a versatile artist who drew cartoons for Charlie Hebdo but also the weekly Marianne, published comic books and did courthouse sketches.

The 58-year-old drew under the pen name Tignous, meaning “stubborn” in the Occitan dialect of Southern France. It was a term of endearment a grandmother used for him.

His father was a civil servant, working nights, processing certified cheques for Banque postale, a financial institution affiliated with the national postal service.

Mr. Verlhac’s first drawing was done when he was 13. His father was on strike and his union needed a poster.

“I quickly realized that [drawing] was a means to communicate a message,” Mr. Verlhac recalled in an interview.

While he was at Charlie Hebdo, the newspaper reprinted the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2006 and was sued by Islamic groups for inciting hatred.

In a documentary about the court case, Mr. Verlhac is seen during one editorial meeting. One person opines that they would have to redraw many of their cartoons if the tribunal ruled against them.

“That’s going to be a lot of work,” Mr. Verlhac deadpanned before grimacing.

His last drawing, sent to Marianne, mocked the radical group Islamic State, which is known in France as Daesh.

It showed a knife-wielding hooded militant beheading a hostage and saying “Daesh, one in two,” a pun on a French detergent commercial.

Georges Wolinski

(Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press)

Georges Wolinski was working in his father’s garment business when he sent his first drawings to the magazine Rustica in 1958.

Born in Tunis in 1934 to a Franco-Italian mother and a Polish Jewish father, he honed his anti-authoritarian pen in the period of civil unrest in France in May, 1968, that included anti-capitalist protests and a general strike. Mr. Wolinski founded a short-lived newspaper called Enragé during the protests, and it became a model for the future weeklies he would help found, including Charlie Hebdo.

While he was a role model for generations of French satirists, Mr. Wolinski continued to draw for such mainstream publications as Le Nouvel Observateur, Libération and Paris Match. He also wrote for theatre and film.

Mr. Wolinski loved women, according to Le Monde. Ten years ago, he told his wife to burn his remains and put them in the toilet. “That way, I can see your bum every day,” he said.

Mr. Wolinski said he lived by the maxim, “I may be an idiot, but when I see what the great intellects have done to this world… .” He was an important public figure in France, where Jacques Chirac, then French president, made him a recipient of the Legion of Honour in 2005.

“People think of him as gross,” friend and author Serge Lentz told the Nouvel Economiste, “but he’s actually modest, courteous and loyal.”

Philippe Honoré

(Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images)

Philippe Honoré, the fifth cartoonist to die in the attack, lacked the notoriety of his four colleagues, in part because he liked to let his illustrations speak for themselves. His cartoon offering good wishes to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – who is portrayed replying with an offer of good health – was sent out on Twitter very close to the moment the attack was launched.

Mr. Honoré published three cartoons a week in Charlie Hebdo, and, like that of his colleagues, his work also appeared in many major French dailies.

He was born in Vichy in 1941, and one Le Monde commentator noted he was born “in the wrong place in the wrong year,” under the rule of Nazi collaborators, explaining why he became an agitator-illustrator. His friend, Le Monde cartoonist Plantu, told the paper Mr. Honoré was, in fact, “furious, but in a polite and gentle way.”

Bernard Maris

(Christophe Abramowitz/AFP/Getty Images)

An economist who was a member of the Bank of France’s general council, Bernard Maris was a Charlie Hebdo columnist on economic issues under the handle “Oncle Bernard” and was a frequent contributor on mainstream broadcasts. He also taught at Université Paris 8.

Mr. Maris, 68, helped relaunch Charlie Hebdo in 1992. He published a 2003 pamphlet railing against neoliberalism entitled “An Open Letter to the Economic Gurus who take us for Imbeciles.”

Le Parisien described him as an erudite man who was as comfortable critiquing a novel as tackling society’s great issues. “In a way, he was an anti-economist,” said Dominique Seux, who was his regular debating partner on France Inter radio for seven years. “He leaves an immense void.”

Ahmed Merabet

The final victim of the attack, Ahmed Merabet was a 41-year-old police officer with eight years experience.

Video taken by a bystander and viewed by millions captured his final moments. Mr. Merabet shot at the attackers before he was wounded in the return fire. As he lay on the ground, an attacker was heard saying: “You want to kill us?” Mr. Merabet replied no, raising his hands in surrender. An attacker shot him in the head at close range.

News that Mr. Merabet was Muslim inspired a hashtag repeated thousands of times: #JesuisAhmed. (I am Ahmed.)

“He was slaughtered like a dog,” said the head of his union local, Nicolas Comte. A superior described Mr. Merabet as very discrete and conscientious.

Michel Renaud

(Daniel Massacrier/AFP/Getty Images)

A journalist and travel writer, Michel Renaud was just visiting. He had dropped by the Charlie Hebdo offices to return a set of drawings Mr. Cabut had lent him for a travel writing and art festival, according to French media. The editorial team asked him to stay for their meeting. A colleague who came along survived by lying on the floor during the gunfire.

Mr. Renaud, 69, was a former chief of staff to the mayor of the regional government of Clerrmont-Ferrand. In his earlier working life he was a journalist at Europe 1 and Figaro.

Franck Brinsolaro

A member of a police protection unit for public figures, Franck Brinsolaro died at the side of the man he was charged with protecting, Charlie Hebdo editor-in-chief Stéphane Charbonnier.

Originally from Marseille, Mr. Brinsolaro, 48, had recently married a journalist and had a year-old daughter. His wife also has an eight-year-old son. Mr. Brinsolaro served two years in Afghanistan.

During a memorial service on Thursday, Mr. Brinsolaro’s twin brother, Philippe, who is also a police officer, called on France to rise up against the attackers. The violence, he said, was not just against freedom of speech but also the authority of the state.

“Sometimes, it seems like police are misunderstood by citizens, but one must always remember that whatever happens, a police officer will always step in to protect the nation,” he told reporters.

Elsa Cayat

A psychoanalyst, Elsa Cayat had a column titled “Charlie’s Couch,” and wrote extensively elsewhere on sexuality and desire. She was the only woman killed in the attack.

Dr. Cayat was trained at the Paris Hospital, and loved the diversity of topics Charlie Hebdo allowed her to explore irreverently, friends said, from the melancholy of Christmas time to parenthood and the roots of the Holocaust.

In an open letter, her aunt, Jacqueline Raul-Duval, described a woman she loved infinitely for her free-spiritedness, intellectual rigour and extraordinary gaiety. When she started working at Charlie Hebdo “it was like she encountered a new lover,” Ms. Raul-Duval said.

Mustapha Ourrad

Mustapha Ourrad was a copy editor at Charlie Hebdo for about 10 years.

An orphan born and raised in Algeria, he came to France in his 20s in the early 1980s. After a start friends described as impoverished and chaotic, he married a French woman and found his calling in the French language as an editor.

Mr. Ourrad was cultivated and studious with an uncommon human touch, according to an essay submitted by three of his friends to Kabyle, a website dedicated to North African ex-patriots.

“After so many difficulties and so much misery, he dies from the bullets of barbaric killers. So distressing, so painful,” the friends wrote.

Frédéric Boisseau

A maintenance worker with Charlie Hebdo’s landlord, Sodexo, Frédérick Boissseau was at the building entrance when the gunmen arrived, asked for directions and shot him. He was the first victim.

Mr. Boisseau worked for the company for 15 years. He was married and had two children, aged 10 and 12. “He died for us, and I didn’t even know his name,” Patrick Pelloux, an emergency physician and columnist at the magazine, told France Inter.

The magazine


In the irreverent, tawdry world of Charlie Hebdo, politicians repeatedly appear with their pants down, sodomy is a recurrent joke and no religion or taboo is safe from mockery.

The satirical left-wing French weekly was born in controversy. Its founders had been publishing the lurid magazine, Hara Kiri (motto: “The journal that’s mean and stupid”). In 1970, Hara Kiri was banned from publication after a cover mocked the death of former president Charles de Gaulle. The Hara Kiri editorial team then launched Charlie Hebdo to skirt the court restriction and continued gleefully skewering religious figures, politicians and celebrities.

Charlie Hebdo closed in the 1980s before reappearing under a new team in 1992. The new contributors included some of the cartoonists who would shape recent controversies, including the four who died in Wednesday’s attack – Stéphane Charbonnier, Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut and Bernard Verlhac.

The newspaper has never shied away from controversy: In 2006, it reprinted a series of cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed that were originally published by a Danish newspaper. That prompted a lawsuit, ultimately unsuccessful, against Charlie Hebdo’s then-editor. In 2011, the newspaper’s office was firebombed after it published an issue supposedly guest-edited by the Prophet Mohammed.

Its caustic irreverence continued right up until the attack: A tweet sent out earlier Wednesday shows a mock new year’s greeting from Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (“And especially to health”).