Paris attacks: Over 10,000 on French list of terror suspects
Belgian national Abdelhamid Abaaoud identified as suspected mastermind
France has listed more than 10,000 people suspected of being radicalised or potential security threats, including homegrown assailant Omar Ismail Mostefai who killed scores of people at Paris’s Bataclan music on Friday.
According to police sources, the so-called “fiche S” (“S file” in French) is updated daily to include individuals suspected of links to a terrorist movement or group.
The “S” stands for the suspects’ potential to endanger the “security of the state”.
The list has 15 categories spanning everyone from football hooligans to battle-hardened militants returning from Iraq and Syria.
The suspects come into the spotlight if they are arrested or subject to a check after which they are immediately on the radar of the intelligence services.
“There are more than 10,000 people who are on the fiche S list,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls said over the weekend.
Some of them are already known to security forces or sentenced for acts of terror, while the others are suspected of either having been radicalised or susceptible to it.
More and more cases of radicalised assailants have surfaced recently including the Al-Qaeda-linked gunman Mohammed Merah who killed seven people in and around the southern city of Toulouse in 2012.
The same was true of the attackers who targeted the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in February this year, killing 17 people.
And Yassin Salhi, who killed and decapitated his employer in Isere in southeastern France in June had been on the S list for two years but had never come to the attention of the police.
This can happen because the suspects are not automatically subject to surveillance.
“It’s more or less an indicator, like a thermometer that one has to monitor and feed all the time for it to be efficient,” a police officer said.
There is cross-border cooperation and intelligence-sharing on drawing up suspects to be added to the list.
Moroccan Ayoub El Khazzani who in August attacked passengers on a train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris before being overpowered by three Americans, was on the list, thanks to warnings from Spanish and Belgian authorities who had alerted the French. Khazzani had lived both in Spain and Belgium.
Belgian police arrested at least one person after a four-hour siege at a house in the Brussels district of Molenbeek on Monday but failed to find a man wanted in connection with the Paris attacks.
Molenbeek mayor Francoise Schepmans told broadcaster RTBF that the operation was over with no one injured and that ‘arrests’ had been made. RTBF later said one person had been detained.
Police said the operation was related to the Paris attacks and the search for Saleh Abdeslam, a 26-year-old Frenchman based in the Belgian capital for whom an international arrest warrant has been issued.
A Reuters journalist at the scene said that three special force commandos wearing gas masks entered the sieged house via the roof. After some 10-15 minutes, they came out of the front door. Armoured vehicles were also in position.
The district of Molenbeek, home to many Muslim immigrants, has been at the centre of investigations of militant attacks in Paris over the weekend, after it emerged that two of the attackers had lived in the area.
Key suspect Saleh Abdeslam targeted in Brussels raid
A major raid by Belgian police under way in Brussels on Monday is aimed at arresting Saleh Abdeslam, who was named by French police as a key suspect in the Paris attacks, prosecutors told AFP.
“That’s correct,” a spokesman for the prosecutor said when asked if the operation targeted Abdeslam, adding however that he was unable to confirm whether the suspect was actually in a house surrounded by police in the Molenbeek district of the Belgian capital.
One of his brothers, Brahim Abdeslam, has been identified among the suicide bombers involved in the Paris attacks.
Another brother, Mohamed Abdeslam, was released ‘without being charged’ by Belgian authorities on Monday along with four other suspects who were arrested, the prosecutor’s spokesman said.
Salah Abdeslam, 26, is the subject of an international arrest warrant by French police who have described him as ‘dangerous.’ Belgian media described him as “public enemy number one”.
UPDATE: French official identifies suspected mastermind of Paris attacks as Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud. French official says suspected attacks mastermind linked to thwarted train and church attacks.
Cops let terrorist cross border after Paris attacks
Wanted terrorist Salah Abdeslam, who is now being hunted down in connection to the Paris attacks, was released by police just hours after the initial bombings and shootings on Friday, it has emerged.
Officials said the Belgian-born 26-year-old was pulled over in a rental car near the Belgian border and let go after being questioned.
Authorities had already identified the man as the person who rented a Volkswagen Polo found near the near the Bataclan concert hall, where at least 89 people were killed during a concert by US band Eagles of Death Metal.
Several AK47 rifles were found inside the car. He is described as dangerous and French police warned people not to approach him.
So far, investigators have found that two cars used in the operation were rented in Belgium, prosecutors said.
November 15, 2015
Two assailants who died in the Paris attacks were French citizens who had lived in Brussels, Belgian prosecutors said Sunday.
The Belgian authorities are holding seven people for questioning in connection with the attacks, and investigators have found that two cars used in the operation were rented in Belgium, they added.
“It appears that two French nationals, who lived in Brussels …, were identified as among the attackers who died on the spot,” the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
“In addition, two cars registered in Belgium were found in Paris, one near the Bataclan and the other near Pere Lachaise,” the statement said.
The Bataclan concert hall is where 89 people were killed, while Pere Lachaise, known for the cemetery where leading literary and other figures are buried, is nearby.
“The investigation shows that the two vehicles were rented at the beginning of the week in the Brussels area,” the statement added.
It said that a total of seven people had been detained for questioning.
“Some of them may be put before an investigating magistrate in the next few hours,” it added.
It was previously announced that police made several arrests when they carried out raids on Saturday in the poor immigrant Brussels neighbourhood of Molenbeek, which has been linked to past terror plots.
The prosecutors did not confirm whether all of the seven were arrested in Molenbeek.
Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens said Saturday that the arrests in Molenbeek ‘can be seen in connection with a grey Polo car rented in Belgium’ found near the Bataclan.
Suspect held in Germany ‘wanted to visit Paris’
A man arrested in Germany with explosives and Kalashnikovs in his car said he was on his way to Paris ‘to see the Eiffel Tower’ and refused to discuss the jihadist attacks, police said Sunday.
“We want to talk (about the Paris attacks) with him but he doesn’t want to talk. Not about this subject in any case,” a spokesman for police in southern Bavaria said.
Police arrested the 51-year-old man from Montenegro on November 5 during a routine check on a Bavaria motorway.
Police said in a statement that an address in Paris was found on a written note in the car as well as in his sat nav system, along with eight assault rifles, three handguns and explosives.
The suspect said he “wanted to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and then return home” and had “no knowledge (of the presence) of arms and explosives” in his vehicle, a police statement said.
The navigation system of his VW Golf car showed he had travelled “from Montenegro to Croatia, Slovenia, Austria” before being stopped in Rosenheim, the statement added.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Saturday the authorities had yet to establish any link between the suspect and the gunmen in Paris.
But earlier Saturday Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer said that there was ‘reason to believe’ he was connected to the attackers.
France calls for EU security summit on Friday
France called on Sunday for an emergency summit of European Union justice and internal affairs ministers to take place on November 20 aimed at speeding up and implementing security measures that are already under discussion.
“Faced with atrocities and acts of terrorism that hit France on November 13 2015, our combat in the struggle against terrorism should, more than ever, be relentless and resolute,” said Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve in a statement.
The statement covered potential changes to the Schengen open borders agreement covering some European countries and said the request had been made to European Commission Vice president Frans Timmermans and to Luxembourg’s Security Minister Etienne Schneider. Luxembourg holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Up to 30 bodies of victims yet to be identified
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Sunday that 103 bodies had been identified from Friday’s attacks in Paris, with 20 to 30 more still awaiting identification.
“They will be (identified) in the coming hours,” said Valls outside the Ecole Militaire where a centre has been set up for the victims’ families.
“These are not anonymous victims. They are lives, young people, who have been targeted while they spent a quiet evening in a café, or at a concert,” Valls told reporters.
“No psychologist, no volunteer, no doctor can console them,” he said of the grieving families.
“But we must help them with the process, with identifications, to accompany them… through all the administrative tasks.”
Holder of Syrian passport sought asylum in Serbia
The holder of a Syrian passport found near the body of one of the gunmen who died in Friday night’s attacks in Paris passed through Serbia last month where he sought asylum, the Serbian Interior Ministry said.
“One of the suspected terrorists, AA, who is of interest to the French security agencies, was registered on the Presevo border crossing on October 7 this year, where he formally sought asylum,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Presevo border crossing separates Serbia from Macedonia.
“Checks have confirmed that his details match those of the person who on October 3 was identified in Greece. There was no Interpol warrant issued against this person.”
Greek authorities had said on Saturday the passport matched that used by a refugee who arrived on the Greek island of Leros on October 3.
Iraq says it shared information that France, US, Iran were targets
Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al Jaafari has said his country’s intelligence services shared information they had which indicated that France, the United States and Iran were among countries being targeted for attack.
“Information has been obtained from Iraqi intelligence sources that the countries to be targeted soon, before it occurred, are Europe in general, specifically France, as well as America and Iran,” Jaafari said from the sidelines of talks in Vienna on ending the war in Syria on Saturday.
He said the countries had been informed. A video of his comments was posted on his website.
Though he did not specify the threat was from Islamic State militants, who control large areas of Iraq and Syria, Jaafari said recent attacks in Egypt, Lebanon and France required a global response to the jihadist group.
Several Kalashnikovs found in abandoned car
Several AK47 rifles of the sort used during the attacks in Paris were found in the black Seat car abandoned in an eastern suburb of the capital, a judicial source said Sunday.
Witnesses have said the car, found in Montreuil, was used by attackers at multiple locations on Friday night.
Omar Ismail Mostefai… petty criminal to deadly killer
Omar Ismail Mostefai was known to police as nothing more than a petty criminal before he became the first gunman identified from Friday’s attacks in Paris, which left at least 129 dead.
Identified by his finger, which was found among the rubble of the Bataclan concert hall, the 29-year-old was one of three men who blew himself up killing 89 people in the bloodiest scene of the carnage.
Born on November 21 1985, in the poor Paris suburb of Courcouronnes, Mostefai’s criminal record shows eight convictions for petty crimes between 2004 and 2010, but no jail time.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Mostefai had been singled out as a high-priority target for radicalisation in 2010 but, before Friday, he had “never been implicated in a terrorist network or plot”.
Investigators are now probing whether he took a trip to Syria last year, according to police sources.
Friday’s attacks, which killed 129 people and wounded 352, including 99 critically, were the worst in Paris’s history.
The killer’s father and 34-year-old
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