Sunday 23 October 2016

Paris Terror Attacks: Passport found at scene used by Syrian refugee entering Greece

First evidence emerges that at least one gunman was among those who claimed asylum in Europe

Richard Spencer in Paris

Published 15/11/2015 | 02:30

Paris terror attacks
Paris terror attacks

A Syrian passport found at the scene of the Paris attacks matched one used by a refugee who arrived on the Greek island of Leros last month, the Greek deputy public security minister said last night.

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The statement, made after French police had shared details with European intelligence agencies of the clues they had picked up so far as to the killers' identities, is the first link to a terrorist attack from the waves of migrants heading across the continent.

It has since emerged the passport is a forgery.

Experts had warned that the passport could have been stolen or bought in a well-established black market.

But if one of the terrorists masqueraded as a migrant, it will be a development long feared both by European governments - aware that the hundreds of thousands of people arriving from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan were likely to include security risks - and refugee agencies, afraid of a popular backlash.

"We announce that the passport holder passed through Leros on 03.10.2015 where the identity was checked under EU rules," the minister, Nikos Toskas, said. "We do not know if the passport was checked by other countries which the holder is likely to have passed through."

The Paris prosecutor said seven attackers were killed, all of them in suicide bombings - a new tactic in France and the first such attack in Europe since the 7/7 bombings in London. Four terrorists died at the Bataclan concert hall, one on the Boulevard Voltaire near the venue and three at the stadium.

One Syrian passport is thought to have been found near the body of one of the bombers at the Stade de France. The owner of an Egyptian passport which was also found near a body at the stadium was later understood to have been traced to a spectator at the game who is being treated in hospital and not regarded as a suspect.

At least one of the suspects, believed to have blown himself up inside the Bataclan, was a 30-year-old Frenchman, who was flagged as an extremist in 2010 and was known to intelligence services.

Police did not disclose his identity in case it hindered the investigation, but his fingerprints were found on bullet casings.

Reports suggested two of the attackers were Belgian. One witness said he saw two black cars, of which one carried a Belgian number plate, and police were searching addresses in Molenbeek, Belgium, after police found a parking ticket from the city on a suspect's car.

The authorities said they had made three arrests.

"There were arrests relating to the search of the vehicle and person who rented it," Koen Geens, the Belgian justice minister, said.

Some evidence points to the attack having been planned in Syria, where the town of Raqqa has become the de facto capital of the so-called 'Caliphate' of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil). It is also where a drone strike on Friday reportedly killed Jihadi John.

An anti-Isil activist living in Deir Ezzor, a town partly held by Isil between Raqqa and the Iraqi border, said that earlier this year he overheard foreign fighters plotting a "huge" terror attack in Paris from an internet cafe.

Tim Ramadan, who works with the group "Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently", said a fighter using the nom-de-guerre Abu Ibrahim al-Belgi - "father of Ibrahim, from Belgium" - was speaking to a "commander" who gave the orders for an attack.

"He said two (fighters) were sent in March and two more would be sent in May," Mr Ramadan, speaking under a pseudonym, said. "They were saying goodbye and were going on an operation to France."

Describing the horror at the Bataclan Isobel Bowdery said; "Everyone was dancing and smiling, and when the men came through the front entrance we naively believed it was all part of the show," said Isobel, a British student who was at the concert with her French boyfriend.

On her Facebook page, Ms Bowdery said she pretended to be dead for more than an hour. "I was holding my breath, trying to not move, not cry - not giving those men the fear they longed to see".

John Leader, originally from Australia, has been living in Paris for the past 15 years. He attended the concert with his 12-year-old son.

"The shooter was standing at the back of the hall and targeting people at the front. He was taking aim. He was not spraying. It was clinical. He was aiming: aim, fire, aim, fire, aim, fire," he said.

Julien Pierce, a radio reporter in the audience, said they said nothing and just started firing. "They kept shooting into the crowd. It lasted for ages. They had time to reload their rifles, several times. They were very much in control," he said.

Helen Wilson, who was shot in both thighs, said the killers had not spared handicapped people attending the concert, who were in a special area.

"They went into the back room where there were people in wheelchairs and they just started shooting them and every time anybody tried to get out a guy would come out and start shooting again," she said. "At one point we could get out but I couldn't get him [boyfriend Nick] up so I just stayed with him."

"The gunmen would stop, they were strolling around."

At the side of the theatre, in the Passage St-Pierre Amelot, screaming concertgoers started to pour out of the emergency exits, treading over two or three bodies which blocked one doorway. Whether they had been shot, or trampled in the panic, is not yet clear.

One escapee was taking his time, then you saw why. Shot in the leg, he was helped by another person to hop down the street. Two others were dragging another man behind them, one arm each, his entire body a sea of blood. He left a great red smear on the road. A third man, also limp was dragged backwards too. More shots rang out and more people spilled out of the exits. The bodies around the doorway were greater in number now. One of the people on the ground was moving, wriggling, but couldn't get up. He was soaked in blood.

Above him, clinging to the side of the building at first and second-floor level, were two people who had climbed out of the windows to avoid the roaming gunmen. "I'm pregnant! I'm pregnant," shouted one woman hanging from the windowsill.

© Telegraph

Sunday Independent

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