Suspected Paris Attack Planner Has Proved Elusive

 Suspected Paris Attack Planner Has Proved Elusive

VOA News

The Paris prosecutor said Wednesday it remains unclear whether the suspected «mastermind» of last week’s terrorist attacks was killed at the suburban Paris apartment building police raided in the pre-dawn hours in the belief he was holed up there.

Police stormed the apartment building in Saint-Denis and arrested eight people, but the 27-year-old Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian of Moroccan descent who has bragged for months about his ability to elude authorities, was not among them.

Western intelligence agencies have been tracking Abaaoud for months, but he has proved elusive, taunting authorities that he could move undetected between Syria and Europe.

His own family has disowned him, with his older sister, Yasmina, saying she was «praying that Abdelhamid really is dead,» when erroneous reports surfaced that he had been killed in Syria fighting for the Islamic State a year ago.

Bomb, gun attacks

Earlier this week, French authorities identified him as the suspected chief planner of last Friday’s bomb and gun attacks on a Paris concert hall, a soccer stadium, and restaurants and bars that killed 129 people and injured more than 300 others.

Abaaoud is also suspected of involvement in two thwarted attacks, one in August against passengers on a Paris-bound high-speed train that was foiled by three young Americans on vacation and another against a French church.

He once attended one of Brussels’ most prestigious high schools, Saint-Pierre d’Uccle, but either flunked out after a year or was dismissed for poor behavior.

It is unclear when he became radicalized, but Abaaoud dedicated himself to a Muslim holy war to the extent that he recruited his 13-year-old brother to join him Syria.

In a French-language Islamic State recruiting video made public a year ago, Abaaoud said, «All my life, I have seen the blood of Muslims flow. I pray that Allah will break the backs of those who oppose him, his soldiers and his admirers, and that he will exterminate them.»