Who were the Paris at­tack­ers? One re­mains at large

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

PARIS: French po­lice and pros­e­cu­tors, friends and fam­i­lies, and jour­nal­ists have un­veiled de­tails about the men ac­cused of car­ry­ing out the at­tacks in Paris. Al­to­gether, au­thor­i­ties say that three teams par­tic­i­pated in the bloody as­sault. At least one sus­pected par­tic­i­pant re­mains at large. Here’s what’s known about the sus­pects:


French in­ves­ti­ga­tors iden­ti­fied Bel­gian-born Abaaoud of Moroc­can de­scent as the ar­chi­tect of the Paris at­tacks. A US of­fi­cial briefed on in­tel­li­gence mat­ters said Abaaoud was a key fig­ure in an Is­lamic State ex­ter­nal oper­a­tions cell that US in­tel­li­gence agen­cies have been track­ing for months. Of­fi­cials ini­tially be­lieved he had co­or­di­nated the as­saults against a soc­cer sta­dium, cafes and a rock con­cert from Syria, but he died dur­ing a po­lice raid Wed­nes­day on a Paris apart­ment that was a 15-minute walk from the Stade de France. Abaaoud was also sus­pected of in­volve­ment in sev­eral thwarted at­tacks this year, in­clud­ing on a church in the Parisian sub­urb of Ville­juif, and pos­si­bly an at­tempted at­tack on a high-speed train when three Amer­i­cans tack­led a heav­ily armed man. Abaaoud is be­lieved to have got­ten to know some of the at­tack­ers re­spon­si­ble for the Paris mas­sacre in the Moleen­beek neigh­bor­hood of Brussels where he grew up. How and when Abaaoud en­tered France be­fore his death re­mained un­clear. He had bragged in the Is­lamic State group’s English­language mag­a­zine that he was able to slip in and out of Europe un­de­tected. Abaaoud was wanted in Bel­gium, where he was sen­tenced in ab­sen­tia this year to 20 years’ im­pris­on­ment for serv­ing as an IS re­cruiter and kid­nap­ping his younger brother, Younes. Bel­gian au­thor­i­ties say Abaaoud brought the boy, then 13, to Syria last year to join him in IS-con­trolled ter­ri­tory.


Three sui­cide bombers - two who blew them­selves up and one shot by po­lice - have been iden­ti­fied as tar­get­ing con­cert-go­ers at the Bat­a­clan mu­sic venue:


Po­lice say Moste­fai blew him­self up at the theater. Tall, quiet and con­ser­va­tively dressed, Moste­fai ap­pears to have aroused lit­tle sus­pi­cion at the hous­ing block he shared with his fam­ily in the French cathe­dral city of Chartres or at the nearby Anoussra Mosque. Ar­nauld Frois­sart, a 34-year-old bank em­ployee who lives in the area, said Moste­fai was “very discreet” and his fam­ily was “very nice.” French po­lice be­lieve Moste­fai trav­eled to Syria in the past few years, al­though it’s not clear what he did there. At the Anoussra Mosque, Is­lamic as­so­ci­a­tion leader Ben Bam­mou con­firmed that Moste­fai was a reg­u­lar mosque­goer un­til about two years ago. He said he saw no sign of fa­nati­cism. “He was a re­served young man who played soc­cer with his col­leagues; he was a baker who was com­ing to pray daily,” he told The As­so­ci­ated Press.


The French­man was charged in a ter­ror­ism in­ves­ti­ga­tion in 2012. He had been placed un­der ju­di­cial su­per­vi­sion but dropped off the radar and was the sub­ject of an in­ter­na­tional ar­rest war­rant. Ami­mour, who had a short ca­reer as a bus driver, had al­ready run into trou­ble with the law. French of­fi­cials quizzed him on Oct. 19, 2012, over links to a net­work of terror sym­pa­thiz­ers and an abortive trip to Ye­men. Ami­mour’s fa­ther trav­eled to Is­lamic State-held ter­ri­tory in June 2014 in an ef­fort to con­vince his son to leave Syria but was re­buffed, ac­cord­ing to Le Monde news­pa­per. “He was with an­other guy, who never left us alone,” the fa­ther said. A third theater at­tacker re­mains uniden­ti­fied.


Au­thor­i­ties say three sui­cide bombers were set to at­tack the Stade de France, though they were un­able to get into the sta­dium and they killed only one by­stander:


That’s the name writ­ten on a Syr­ian pass­port found near one of the sui­cide bombers. The doc­u­ment de­scribes Al-Mo­ham­mad as a 25year-old from the rebel-held Syr­ian city Idlib. French of­fi­cials said in a state­ment that the bomber’s fin­ger­prints match a set taken in Greece in Oc­to­ber. A Greek of­fi­cial says the per­son hold­ing Al-Mo­ham­mad’s pass­port went through ad­min­is­tra­tive pro­cess­ing on the Greek is­land of Leros af­ter set­ting out from Tur­key, stay­ing there for five days be­fore ar­riv­ing by ship in Athens. He later en­tered Ser­bia, where au­thor­i­ties took fin­ger­prints that match those given in Greece, and he then crossed into Croa­tia the next day, ac­cord­ing to a Ser­bian se­cu­rity of­fi­cial who spoke to The As­so­ci­ated Press on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he is not au­tho­rized to speak to the press. It’s not known whether Al-Mo­ham­mad is the man’s real name.

BI­LAL HADFI, age un­clear.

A po­lice of­fi­cial who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not al­lowed to speak pub­licly iden­ti­fied Hadfi, a French cit­i­zen, as one of the three sta­dium bombers. Bel­gian po­lice said Fri­day they were keep­ing in cus­tody a per­son linked to Hadfi in an in­ves­ti­ga­tion not di­rectly re­lated to the Paris at­tacks. An of­fi­cial in the Bel­gian fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice said raids re­lated to Hadfi tar­geted peo­ple in his “en­tourage.” The third sta­dium bomber hasn’t been named, but French of­fi­cials said Fri­day he en­tered Greece at the same time as Al-Mo­hammed.


Au­thor­i­ties be­lieve there was one at­tacker on the cafe Comp­toir Voltaire:


Ab­deslam, el­der brother of fugi­tive Salah Ab­deslam, blew him­self up out­side the cafe. A per­son in Bel­gium fa­mil­iar with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion told The As­so­ci­ated Press that Brahim Ab­deslam be­came “close” with Abaaoud while liv­ing in the Molen­beek neigh­bor­hood.


Au­thor­i­ties say Ait­boulah­cen died in the po­lice raid on the apart­ment where Abaaoud was holed up. On Fri­day, pros­e­cu­tors said she didn’t kill her­self by det­o­nat­ing a sui­cide vest as pre­vi­ously thought. She had lived a sec­u­lar life, drink­ing al­co­hol and rarely vis­it­ing a mosque. The lawyer for Abaaoud’s fa­ther said Fri­day that Ait­boulah­cen was his niece, and there­fore Abaaoud’s cousin. Born in the Paris sub­urb of Clichy-la-Garenne, Ait­boulah­cen moved to the east­ern French town of Creutzwald with her par­ents and four sib­lings when she was 16. Some years later Ait­boulah­cen ap­par­ently left Creutzwald and set­tled in the Paris sub­urb of Clichy-sous-Bois. Her fa­ther, who was born in Mar­rakech, and her older sis­ter moved to Morocco. Ait­boulah­cen is listed on com­pany reg­is­tra­tion doc­u­ments two years ago as man­ager of a con­struc­tion com­pany based in the Paris sub­urb of Epinay-sur-Seine that went bank­rupt less than 10 months later. Be­cause her name came up in a drug-traf­fick­ing case, Ait­boulah­cen was un­der sur­veil­lance, and her move­ments may have led au­thor­i­ties to the Saint-De­nis flat. She, Abaaoud and one other as-yet-iden­ti­fied per­son were killed in the apart­ment raid. Au­thor­i­ties are in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether she had a role in the Paris at­tacks.


Ab­deslam, a Brussels-born man, is the brother of Brahim, who blew him­self up out­side the cafe Comp­toir Voltaire. Salah Ab­deslam is sought as a sus­pected ac­com­plice in the at­tacks and is de­scribed by French po­lice as highly dan­ger­ous. He is the sus­pected driver of a group of gun­men dur­ing the at­tacks. Au­thor­i­ties iden­ti­fied him as the renter of a Volk­swa­gen Polo that car­ried hostage-tak­ers to the Paris theater. Of­fi­cials said Ab­deslam en­tered Aus­tria from Ger­many Nov. 9 with two uniden­ti­fied com­pan­ions and they were stopped for a rou­tine traf­fic check. They said they were plan­ning a va­ca­tion in Vi­enna. The Ab­deslam broth­ers booked a ho­tel in the south­east­ern Paris sub­urb of Al­fortville and rented a house in the north­east­ern sub­urb of Bo­bigny sev­eral days be­fore the at­tacks. Hours af­ter he was linked to the at­tacks, Ab­deslam and two trav­el­ers were stopped in their car near the Bel­gian border. Four French of­fi­cials ac­knowl­edged that po­lice had Ab­deslam in their grasp, but of­fi­cials let him go af­ter check­ing his ID. Two men ar­rested in Bel­gium ad­mit­ted driv­ing to France to pick up Salah Ab­deslam the morn­ing af­ter the at­tacks: Mo­hammed Amri, 27, and Hamza At­tou, 21, are be­ing held on charges of ter­ror­ist mur­der and con­spir­acy. Salah’s other brother, Mo­hamed Ab­deslam, said all three sib­lings grew up in Bel­gium and seem­ingly were con­tent with life in the West. “We are an open-minded fam­ily. We never had any prob­lem with jus­tice,” he said. — AP

BRUSSELS: Mo­ham­mad Ab­deslam (left), the brother of Paris at­tack­ers Salah and Brahim Ab­del­slam, lights can­dles with an uniden­ti­fied man on the bal­cony of his house dur­ing a can­dle­light vigil in the town square of Molen­beek, Bel­gium. — AP

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