Paris attack cell stretched from Europe to Syria and back
Paris attack cell stretched from Europe to Syria and back
Mar. 18, 2016
PARIS (AP) — Police, prosecutors, friends, families and acquaintances have unveiled details about the men who carried out the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris. Altogether, authorities say that three teams participated in the bloody assault. Here is a look at what we know about the suspects:
— SALAH ABDESLAM, 26
Abdeslam's brother blew himself up outside the cafe Comptoir Voltaire. His own exact role that night is unknown. The Paris prosecutor said he is believed to have dropped off the stadium bombers, abandoned his car in northern Paris and then shed a suicide vest in southern Paris.
Hours after he was linked to the attacks, Abdeslam and two travelers were stopped in their car near the border between France and Belgium but were set free. 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.
Abdeslam was captured Friday in Molenbeek, where he grew up.
A group of gunmen with automatic weapons opened fire on bars and restaurants, driving through central Paris in a black getaway car. They included:
— ABDELHAMID ABAAOUD, 28
Belgian-born Abaaoud has been identified as the architect of the Paris attacks and is believed to have been among the squad of gunmen who attacked bars and restaurants that night.
He was also suspected of involvement in several thwarted attacks this year, including an attempted attack on a high-speed train from Belgium to Paris when three Americans tackled a heavily armed man and one on a church in the Parisian suburb of Villejuif. His ties to many of the attackers date to his days in the Moleenbeek neighborhood of Brussels where he grew up. He bragged that he was able to slip in and out of Europe undetected.
Abaaoud died during a Nov. 18 police raid on an apartment near the Stade de France.
— BRAHIM ABDESLAM, 31
Abdeslam, the older brother of Salah Abdeslam, blew himself up outside the cafe and is also believed to have been part of the team that attacked bars and restaurants.
His former lawyer, Olivier Martins, said Abdeslam had done a short prison term in Belgium for stealing identity cards. A judge freed him after a month in 2010 because he was believed to have turned his life around. Abdeslam's restaurant was ordered shut down on Nov. 4 because of drug dealing.
"In my opinion, he was someone who was very, very fragile and very easily influenced," the lawyer said.
— CHAKIB AKROUH, 25
Akrouh, a Belgian Moroccan, was identified thanks to DNA provided from his mother. He died along with Abaaoud in the Nov. 18 police raid in Saint-Denis. Belgian media reported that he, like so many of the others, had ties to the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels.
Three French nationals have been identified as targeting concert-goers at the Bataclan music venue. Two of them blew themselves up and one was shot by police. They were:
— ISMAEL OMAR MOSTEFAI, 29
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."
— SAMY AMIMOUR, 28
The Frenchman, a former public bus driver, 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'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.
— FOUED MOHAMED-AGGAD, 23
Mohamed-Aggad was among a group of about a dozen young men who left the eastern city of Strasbourg for Syria at the end of 2013. His brother and six others returned and are now facing terrorism charges. But Mohamed-Aggad remained with the Islamic State group, telling his family he expected to carry out a suicide bombing in Iraq, according to his brother's lawyer.
Mohamed-Aggad's mother received a text message in English saying her son had died Nov. 13, said the lawyer, Francoise Cotta. The mother submitted a DNA sample allowing investigators to determine her son was the third Bataclan attacker.
Authorities say three suicide bombers had intended to attack the Stade de France, but they were unable to get into the stadium and killed just one bystander when they detonated their vests nearby. Only one of the thee has been fully identified:
— BILAL HADFI, 20
Hadfi, a French citizen who lived in Belgium, was identified as one of the three stadium bombers and the youngest of the attackers. "I am afraid of getting an SMS," his mother told the Belgian newspaper La Libre Belgique 10 days before the attacks. She said her son went to Syria in February without informing his family. "He knew it was a trip without a return," she said.
— The other two suicide attackers had Syrian passports believed to be fake. One was identified in the document as Ahmad al-Mohammad and described as a 25-year-old from the rebel-held Syrian city Idlib. Greece said the two men passed through their border in October. More than a week after the attacks, authorities posted a photo of the man on Twitter as part of a public appeal to help identify him.
— MOHAMED ABRINI, 30
Abrini, a petty criminal from the Molenbeek neighborhood, was spotted twice with Salah Abdeslam in the days before the attacks. He has not been seen since and is being sought as a suspect.
— SAMIR BOUZID and SOUFIANE KAYAL
Two men using fake ID's with these names were stopped Sept. 9 driving with Salah Abdeslam from Budapest. Kayal was also named as the renter of a house searched on Nov. 26. Bouzid's fake ID card was used to wire 750 euros ($815) to Hasna Ait Boulahcen on Nov. 17, the day she met up with her cousin Abbaoud and found him a place to stay. Police in Belgium say Mohamed Belkaid, who was shot to death this week by a police sniper and may have been holed up with Abdeslam in the apartment where he died, is "most probably" the person who used the Bouzid ID.
— HASNA AIT BOULAHCEN, 26
Authorities say Aitboulahcen, Abaaoud's cousin on their mothers' side, died in the police raid on the apartment where Abaaoud was holed up. Born in the Paris suburb of Clichy-la-Garenne, Aitboulahcen was under surveillance because her name came up in a drug-trafficking case, but her ties to Abbaoud initially came as a surprise.