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Disposable phones and no emails: Police report shows how the Paris attacks were planned

The arrest on Friday of Salah Abdeslam, who is suspected to have been the head of logistics for the Paris terrorist attacks in November, offers French and Belgian investigators the opportunity to gather new information about how the atrocity was planned and carried out.


For months, the police have been criticised for not being able to the prevent the attacks and failing to stop the expansion of what is now suspected to be a web of ISIS sleeper cells spread throughout continental Europe.

The Paris attacks, which killed 130 people and injured hundreds more, shocked the world, as they struck the heart of Europe and showed the reach and organisation of ISIS (also known as the Islamic State, Daesh, or ISIL).

Most of what is known about the attacks is contained in a 55-page report from the French antiterrorism police. The New York Times obtained a copy of the report, which shows that the attackers and those who aided them knew how to exploit the European border system, how to make certain type of bombs, and how to overwhelm the police.

A New York Times article discussing the report suggests that questions about the number of people involved, how many were trained in Syria, and what kind of encryption the terrorists used to hide their communications remain unanswered.

With the Paris attacks, ISIS moved away from its usual types of targets, such as security establishments and places with links to Israel. But, according to The Times, in one of the group’s online magazines, a senior ISIS member advises against picking specific targets and to instead, “Hit everyone and everything.”

In January, Europol, the European Union’s law-enforcement agency, announced the launch of a Europe-wide “Counter Terrorism Centre,” which was created in response to the attacks in Paris and which aims to improve information sharing among security forces of all European countries.

The scope of the failure of European security forces and the need for them to work together became clear when it was revealed that at least three of the attackers were wanted on international warrants but were able to travel between Europe and the Middle East.

Alain Chouet, a former head of French intelligence, told The Times: “We don’t share information. We even didn’t agree on the translations of people’s names that are in Arabic or Cyrillic, so if someone comes into Europe through Estonia or Denmark, maybe that’s not how we register them in France or Spain.”

Increasingly well-organised attacks
The report shows how well prepared the terrorists were and that they knew to combine three attacks (suicide bombers at the Stade de France stadium


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