The Terrorist Cell, An investigation on the November 13th of 2015

Original title: La cellule, enquête sur les attentats du 13 novembre 2015

Publication Date:

August 2021



Original language and publisher

French | Les Arènes


Graphic Novels & Comics

The Terrorist Cell, An investigation on the November 13th of 2015

Original title: La cellule, enquête sur les attentats du 13 novembre 2015


A phenomenal graphic-novel reportage.

Two years of research and 115,000 pages of investigation files brought to you by Le Monde’s terrorism specialist.

This fall’s sensational investigative reportage is… a graphic novel! The trial for the Paris terrorist attacks will begin in September

Le Monde reporter Soren Seelow and illustrator Nicolas Otero retrace the events that led to the attacks of November 2015.

Throughout 2015, France experienced an unprecedented wave of deadly terrorist attacks: on January 7 the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was attacked by gunmen; on January 8 there was a shoot-out in Montrouge; on January 9 a hostage situation at the Hyper Cacher supermarket of Porte de Vincennes; on February 3, three soldiers were stabbed in Nice. And on November 13, near-simultaneous attacks were carried out at the Stade de France in Saint Denis, then at the Bataclan theater and in other locations throughout the 10th and 11th arrondissements in Paris. In the middle east, in an area straddling Syria and Iraq, an emerging terrorist group called ISIS had been taking advantage of the chaotic situation in Iraq and of the Syrian civil war to establish an Islamic ‘caliphate’ right on Europe’s doorstep.

This organization attracted tens of thousands of jihadists – including many French speakers – and engaged in large-scale attacks throughout Europe. One of these jihadists, a Belgian named Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was obsessed with striking a blow at the very heart of France. The intelligence agencies were quick at spotting the threat he represented: in January 2015, he narrowly escaped capture after a foiled attack in Verviers, Belgium. Ten months later, Abaaoud was in Paris, where he orchestrated the massacres that would kill 130 people on the night of November 13. Ten months during which the counter-terrorism branch tried in vain to find and ‘neutralize’ him, as well as locating his accomplices.

A meticulously researched docu-drama.

The graphic novel retraces the hidden story of this manhunt through the eyes of a DGSE agent (the French foreign intelligence agency). It is based on real court records, de-classified intelligence files, interviews, and transcripts of phone conversations between the terrorists. Page after page, terrorism specialist Soren Seelow pieces it all together, shedding light on ISIS’ extremely professional operations, its recruitment and training strategies, and its internal organisation…but also revealing how powerless the French and European intelligence services were when faced with this threat.

Cold, unrelenting visuals for a chilling narrative.

Nicolas Otero’s illustrations were inspired by actual photographs: the real faces of terrorists, their real hideouts. This approach enabled him to remain as close as possible to the investigation and to a journalistic style – both authors were really preoccupied with realism. These images of Syria, of ISIS infiltrating Europe, of the jihadists themselves tell us, for the first time, the story behind the events that traumatised French society.


Marketing Information

  • Print-run: 12,000 copies