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French Officials Identify Belgian-Born Abdelhamid Abaaoud As Mastermind Behind Paris Terrorist Attack

November 16, 2015

On Monday, French authorities identified Belgian citizen Abdelhamid Abaaoud as the mastermind behind the coordinated suicide bombings and shootings in Paris on November 13th.  

The announcement came after more than 20 arrests by French police this weekend.  The French police reported that these arrests and raids led to the seizure of arms and ammunition, including rocket launchers and assault rifles.

According to authorities, 5 other individuals were identified as being involved in the attacks. Omar Ismaïl Mostefai, a 29-year old Algerian national, is believed to be one of the suicide bombers behind the attack on a concert hall according to the Guardian UK.  Mr. Mostefai was identified by his index finger found at the site of the bombing. Samy Amimour, a 28-year old French citizen, is believed to be the other suicide bomber.  

Bilal Hadfi was identified by the Washington Post as the suicide bomber behind the attack on the football stadium Stade de France. Another alleged suicide bomber was carrying a Syrian passport with the name Ahmad Almohammad.  However, authorities have yet to confirm the bomber’s true identity.  The man is understood to have been travelling with another person of interest, identified by the Greek newspaper Protothema as Mohammed Almuhamed.  

Mr. Abaaoud is also believed to have been behind the abortive attempt to attack a Thalys high-speed Amsterdam-Brussels train in August of this year.  French authorities also believe he carried out several armed robberies with one of the men allegedly involved in the Paris attacks.

Meanwhile, on Saturday Belgian police announced the arrest of 7 individuals suspected to be involved in the Paris terrorist attacks.  It was widely believed by both the Belgian and French governments that those behind the terrorist attack fled to Belgium.  On Monday Belgian authorities announced that two of the individuals arrested are being held on terrorism charges.  

Mohamed Abdeslam, who was among those arrested in Belgium, was released on Monday and is the brother of Salah Abdeslam who is currently the subject of a continental manhunt.  His other brother, Brahim Abdeslam, is believed to have been one of the eight suicide bombers involved in the attack.

The manhunt also spread to Italy where Italian police were warned to be on the lookout for a Black Seat automobile, which may be connected to the Paris attacks.