November 16, 2015


Paris attacks 'mastermind' Abdelhamid Abaaoud: what we know (Josh Halliday and Jonathan Bucks, 16 November 2015, The Guardian)

French officials said Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, was instrumental in organising and executing the gun and suicide bomb attacks on Friday night that wrought devastation in central Paris, AFP reported.

Abaaoud, a Belgian of Moroccan origin, was first named by police as a wanted extremist after a gun battle in eastern Belgium in January during a raid on an Isis cell.

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That security operation was believed to have destroyed a cell plotting to assassinate Belgian police officers, with two suspects killed in a fierce gun battle with police during the raid in the eastern town of Verviers.

Abaaoud, the group's suspected leader, spent time fighting alongside Isis in Syria. He was known to security forces after appearing in an Isis video, at the wheel of a car transporting mutilated bodies to a mass grave. [...]

Abaaoud was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Belgian court earlier this year after being tried in absentia for recruiting for Isis in Syria. He was among 32 people charged with running one of Belgium's largest jihadi recruitment networks, although many of the defendants - including Abaaoud - were tried in absentia and remain at large.

He was also accused of kidnapping after his younger brother, Younes, 13, travelled to Syria in January 2014, earning the media nickname of "the youngest jihadi in the world". Their father, Omar Abaaoud, having heard no news from his two sons, filed a police complaint against his older son, AFP reported in May.

Abaaoud's older sister, Yasmina, told the New York Times in January that neither of the brothers showed a zealous interest in religion before leaving for Syria. "They did not even go to the mosque," she said.

Their father owned a shop and lived with his wife and six children in an apartment on rue de l'Avenir in one of Molenbeek's better areas, near a canal that separates Molenbeek from a trendy Brussels district of bars and restaurants, the newspaper reported.

Posted by at November 16, 2015 1:56 PM