Recently, Bill Nye was interviewed by Huff Post Live.

In one excerpt of the interview he draws a line of causation from a water shortage in Syria to the November 2015 Paris attacks.

He was transcribed by the Washington Times (note: not the Washington Post):

“There is a water shortage in Syria, this is fact based — small and medium farmers have abandoned their farms because there’s not enough water, not enough rainfall. And especially the young people who have not grown up there, have not had their whole lives invested in living off the land, the young people have gone to the big cities looking for work.

“There’s not enough work for everybody, so the disaffected youths, as we say, the young people who don’t believe in the system, believe the system’s failed, don’t believe in the economy are more easily engaged and more easily recruited by terrorist organizations, and then they end up part way around the world in Paris shooting people,”

Setting aside the water shortage cause, which is addressed in a related question (Did global warming exacerbate the Syrian conflict?), this sounds speculative.

Were the Paris terrorists youths from (i.e. grew up in) Syria?

  • 3
    How many Syrians whose parents were farmers were involved?
    – gnasher729
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 21:58
  • 2
    If the bullet points are an accurate description of what Bill Nye said, then it doesn't look like a duplicate. If he had argued that the French and Belgian terrorists trained in Syria, and that was made possible by a climate change induced conflict, then that'd be a different matter.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 8:00
  • 1
    1) Has it been established that any of the terrorists involved in the Paris attack even were Syrians? 2) How do you get to "And therefore, a shooting happens in Paris" from what Mr. Nye said? I think you are drawing your own conclusions. 3) Of course you haven't found anything that demonstrates that logic, you were the one that made it up. Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 2:28
  • 2
    @Larian 1) That's what this question is about 2) Because that's what he said.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 2:33
  • 3
    Maybe the way I'm reading this is tainted by my respect for Bill Nye, but I feel people are reading a throwaway line too literally. I feel the point he was trying to make wasn't that disaffected Syrians were responsible for this particular attack, but that they were at a much higher risk of radicalisation, and may end up doing similar things in the future. Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 16:48

1 Answer 1


No-one connected to the attacks has yet turned out to be from Syria - they were almost all (around 12 so far) EU citizens from France and/or Belgium. There appears to have been at least one Algerian and possibly one or more Moroccans involved indirectly, but no evidence of any Syrians. Many of them grew up in urban Brussels. Many had travelled to Syria for training/recruitment (not agriculture). They were largely aged late 20s to early 30s. Young adults would fit better than "youths", only one (aged 20) could really be called a "youth".

Likewise, everyone named so far in connection with the 22nd March 2016 Brussels attacks, believed to be linked to the Paris attacks, has been a Belgian national.

There are, however, four three (as of 9th Dec 2015) whose identities and background are not yet confirmed.

Many news outlets list their known biographical details, e.g. BBC, which is the source for most of the below. There are also lists and details on Wikipedia, and NY Times:

Directly involved in the initial Paris attacks

  • Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 28, suspected ringleader, Belgian national, grew up in Brussels

  • Salah Abdeslam, 26, escapee arrested March 2016, French national born in Brussels
  • Brahim Abdeslam, 31, suicide bomber, Salah's brother, as above
  • Unknown third man believed to have been with the two brothers

  • Omar Ismail Mostefai, 29, French national, born in Paris, Algerian ancestry. Suicide bomber in the Bataclan.
  • Samy Amimour, 28, French, Paris resident, another Bataclan suicide bomber
  • Foued Mohamed Aggad, identified on 9th Dec 2015, 23, French, from Strasbourg, travelled to Syria in 2013

  • Bilal Hadfi, 20, French national living in Belgium, stadium suicide bomber
  • Unknown stadium suicide bomber carrying a Syrian passport believed to be fake, possibly copied or stolen from a dead Syrian soldier under the name "Ahmad al-Mohammad". Matched fingerprints of a migrant registered in Greece, otherwise, identity unknown.
  • 'M al-Mahmod', unknown origin, possibly fake name, traveled with the above. A picture released by the French authorities shows him looking to be aged late twenties to early or mid 30s.

Police raid in Paris shortly after the attacks

  • Hasna Aitboulahcen, 26, French daughter of Moroccan immigrants who died during police raid. Level of involvement in the attacks and circumstances of death currently unknown.
  • Jawad Bendaoud, 29, arrested during raids, rented the flat used by the attackers. He's described as a "Frenchman" and a long term St Denis resident.
  • Chakib Akrouh, 25, a Belgian-Moroccan citizen, who blew himself up during this raid

Accomplices of Salah Abdeslam

  • Mohamed Abrini, 30, Belgian, from the same area of Brussels where Salah Abdeslam grew up; a wanted suspect seen with Salah Abdeslam before the attacks
  • (update March 2016) Possibly the first non-European involved (indirectly?) in the Paris attacks: Algerian national Mohamed Belkaïd, killed during a gunfight with police and suspected ("more than likely") of helping with the logistics for the attacks. He travelled to Syria to join ISIS in 2014 but, like the others, travelled from Europe, via Turkey.
  • (update March 2016) Najim Laachraoui, 24, born in Morocco and raised in Brussels, and travelled from Europe to Syria in 2013. Was a wanted suspect believed to be an accomplice of Salah Abdeslam who helped him escape, and his DNA was found on explosives used in the Paris attacks and in two properties raided in connection with them. He is also believed to be a bomb-maker involved in the 22nd March 2016 attacks in Brussels (see below).

Other / unknown / uncertain role

  • (January 2016) Zakaria J, Belgian, 30, arrested on suspicion of involvement, role unknown
  • Ahmed Dahmani, 26, Belgian (of Moroccan origin), arrested on arrival in Turkey the day after the attacks
  • (January 2016) Gelel Attar, unknown age, Belgian (of Moroccan origin), arrested in Morocco, role unknown
  • (Feb 2016) Zouhir Mehdaoui, 29, Algerian former resident in Belgium, arrested in Algeria, role unknown
  • Hamza Attouh, 21, Belgian (arrested for helping Salah Abdeslam to escape).

There's a list of such people on the Strait Times, here. I've omitted several who were arrested and since released (inlcuding "Ayoub B" mentioned in an earlier version of this post).

Brussels attacks 22nd March 2016

While not officially confirmed, it's believed that these attacks were linked to the Paris attack, believed to have been planned and committed by people involved in the Paris attack. It's suspected that it might have been originally planned for later in the year, then bought forward and rushed as members of this group were arrested or named as suspects based on the Paris attacks investigations.

BBC graphic to help clarify the links:

Police raids following Brussels attacks

  • With 33 edits in 3 months, can we expect this answer to settle down soon?
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 15:11
  • 5
    It'll settle down as soon as all the facts are known and the activity around the terrorist groups connected to Paris settles down! Each edit has been adding new information as it comes available (Surely that's a good thing?) Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 15:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .