Police fear Paris attackers have slipped through net
Published 01/12/2015 | 02:30
Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam may have fled to Syria, according to reports quoting French intelligence services.
A major manhunt is under way for Abdeslam, a Belgian-born French national who has been on the run since the November 13 attacks, which killed 130 people.
But investigators are now working under the assumption that the 26-year-old has slipped the net and is now in Syria, according to according to CNN, quoting a source close to the investigation and a counterterrorism source.
Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (Isil), which controls a large swathe of territory across Syria and Iraq, has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
French police have issued an international arrest warrant for Abdeslam, describing him as highly dangerous.
He rented the VW Polo and Renault Clio cars used in the attacks. Investigators say he went to Belgium from France the day after the attacks in a VW Golf, despite being stopped by French police along the way in routine road checks before his name was circulated as a suspect. His brother Brahim died in the attacks.
Abdeslam may have intended to blow himself up but abandoned the plan, although it is unclear why.
The last person known to have seen Abdeslam, Ali Oulkadi, said he gave him a lift across Brussels on November 14 and when he dropped him off Abdeslam said: "You'll never see me again."
Police are investigating whether Abdeslam bought around 10 detonators from a fireworks company, which may have been used by the suicide bombers involved in the massacre. The daily newspaper Le Parisien reported on Saturday that the manager of a company in the Val d'Oise region, north-west of Paris, had recognised Abdeslam after wanted posters were issued and contacted police.
Separately, it emerged yesterday that two French nationals suspected of wanting to join Isil training camps in Libya before heading to Syria were arrested in Tunisia in mid-November, according to an official at the Paris prosecutor's office.
It is the first case made public of potential French Isil recruits travelling to Libya instead of Syria, where hundreds of French citizens have already joined the ranks of the hardline group.
According to the official, the two men, aged 19 and 20, were arrested near Tunisia's southern border with Libya. They were handed over to French authorities on November 13, the day of the Paris attacks.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that he and President Barack Obama have a shared understanding on how to move toward a political settlement in Syria, but added that incidents like the recent downing of a Russian warplane by a Turkish fighter jet stymie broader cooperation against extremism.
Putin and Obama had a half-hour meeting on the sidelines of a climate summit near Paris, and the Russian leader told reporters they discussed efforts to compile a list of extremist groups and another one of members of legitimate political opposition.
Putin said "we have an understanding how we should proceed if we talk about a political settlement. We need to work on a new (Syrian) constitution, new elections and the control over their outcome." (© Daily Telegraph, London)