Friday 23 August 2019

Paris terror attacks: Everything we know about the Isil attackers so far

At least one of the suicide bombers was a French citizen called Omar Ismail Mostefai, who was known to security services, while Syrian passport was found near the body of two others

A video uncovered by French news outlet BFMTV seems to show Paris attacker Omar Mustefai performing rap music Photo: BFMTV
A video uncovered by French news outlet BFMTV seems to show Paris attacker Omar Mustefai performing rap music Photo: BFMTV
Belgian suicide bomber Bilal Hadfi
Salah Abdelsalam, left, Ahmad Almohammad, right, and Omar Mustefai, inset
Abdelhamid Abaaoud had links to previous planned attacks
Bullet holes are seen in the window of the Le Carillon restaurant the morning after a series of deadly attacks in Paris Photo: Reuters

Five of the attackers have now been officially identified. A 29-year-old terrorist at the Bataclan was Omar Ismaël Mostefaï, who lived in Chartres, south west of Paris.

On Saturday evening police took his father and brother into custody and were searching their homes. Investigators were also searching the homes of his friends and relatives, another source close to the inquiry said.

Mostefai's father's house is located in the small town of Romilly-sur-Seine, some 130 kilometres (80 miles) east of Paris, while his brother's is south of Paris in the Essonne region.

His brother, who is 34, contacted the police on his own initiative and was then taken into custody. He told AFP he hasn't been in touch with Mostefaï for years.

Mostefaï was known to police as being close to radical Islam but had never been linked to a terrorism inquiry, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said earlier Saturday.

However, he also said he had been flagged up as a potential security threat in 2010 and was given an "S" classification so he was on the watch list.

The gunman was identified via a severed fingertip.

AFP reported that Mostefai was born on November 21 1985 in the poor Paris suburb of Courcouronnes.

His criminal record shows eight convictions for petty crime between 2004 and 2010, but no jail time.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Mostefai had been singled out as a high-priority target for radicalisation in 2010 but, before Friday, he had "never been implicated in an investigation or a terrorist association".

Investigators are now probing whether he took a trip to Syria last year, according to police sources.

The killer's father and 34-year-old brother were placed in custody on Saturday evening and their homes were searched.

"It's a crazy thing, it's madness," his brother told AFP, his voice trembling, before he has taken into custody.

"Yesterday I was in Paris and I saw how this s**t went down."

 The brother, one of four boys in the family along with two sisters, turned himself in to police after learning Mostefai was involved in the attacks.

While he had cut ties with Mostefai several years ago, and knew he had been involved in petty crimes, his brother said he had never imagined his brother could be radicalised.

The last he knew, Mostefai had gone to Algeria with his family and his "little girl," he said, adding: "It's been a time since I have had any news."

"I called my mother, she didn't seem to know anything," he said Saturday.

A source close to the inquiry said Mostefai regularly attended the mosque in Luce, close to Chartres, to the southwest of Paris.

He is believed to have spent several months in Syria in late 2013 and early 2014, a source close to the investigation said.


Three brothers living in Belgium - one at large

They are said to be:

Ibrahim Abdeslam - suicide bomber

Ibrahim Abdeslam was a suicide bomebr who blew himself up outside the Comptoir Voltaire restaurant in Paris. He rented the Seat Leon which was found abandoned in a Paris suburb with Kalashnikovs inside.


Mohammed Abdeslam - in police custody

Mohammed Abdeslam is one of the seven people who was arrested in the Molenbeek raids.


Salah Abdeslam - on the run

There is an international arrest warrant out for Salah Abdeslam - a French national who rented a black VW Polo in Belgium which was found abandoned near the Bataclan concert hall.

He was stopped near the Belgian border on Saturday morning in a grey VW golf also carrying two accomplices, but was not arrested at the time.

Three brothers are thought to have been involved in the attacks and one may remain at large.


Bilal Hadfi

Belgian suicide bomber Bilal Hadfi

This is Bilal Hadfi, the 20-year-old baby-faced bomber who blew himself up outside gate H of the Stade de France. He is said to have fought with Isil in Syria, and came from Belgium.


Ahmad Al Mohammad

Paris prosecutors confirmed the name of another bomber who attacked the Stade de France as Ahmad Al Mohammad.

Reuters reports that fingerprints from one of the suicide bombers behind the attacks at the Stade de France in Paris matched the prints of a man registered in Greece in October.

Salah Abdelsalam, left, Ahmad Almohammad, right, and Omar Mustefai, inset

Salah Abdelsalam, left, Ahmad Almohammad, right, and Omar Mustefai, inset


 "At this stage, while the authenticity of a passport in the name of Ahmad al Mohammad, born Sept. 10 1990 in Idlib, Syria needs to be verified, there are similarities between the fingerprints of the suicide bomber and those taken during a control in Greece in October," the Paris prosecutor said in a statement.

He disappeared in the autumn of 2013 and an international arrest warrant was issued for him.


Samy Amimour

Samy Amimour, 27, was named by French prosecutors on Monday morning as being one of the Bataclan attackers.

He was born in Drancy, northern Paris.

He was actively wanted via an international arrest warrant for having violated judicial controls, and was known to anti-terror judges as he had been placed under formal investigation in 2012 for “terrorist links” and placed under judicial control.

In autumn 2013, he breached his judicial control and a warrant was issued.


Mastermind of attack could be Abdel Hamid Abaaoud

Abdelhamid Abaaoud had links to previous planned attacks

Belgian media reported on Monday morning that Abdel Hamid Abaaoud is the suspected brains behind the attack, citing security sources.

Abaaoud was believed to be the leaders of the Vervier cell of returned Syrian jihadists that was broken up by police in January in a deadly shootout.

The name of Paris attacker Brahim Abdeslam appears in several police files alongside leading militant Abdelhamid Abaaoud relating to criminal cases in 2010 and 2011, Flemish-language newspaper De Standaard reported.

Aged 27 and from Molenbeek, he was sentenced to 20 years in abstentia along with 32 other jihadists.

His father Omar is a grocer in Molenbeek and he is reputed to have taken his brother Younes, 13, to Syria with him in January 2014.

His family apparently announced his death at some point, but this may have been a ruse.

He has claimed in the IS English-language magazine Dabiq to have rejoined the group in Syria, and has featured in Isil propaganda videos and their magazine, boasting of how he evaded police.

He is believed to have been in Raqqa in April/June 2014, then Tabka, Deir ez Zor and finally Kobani.

A reporter for French newspaper Liberation claims that he was also in contact with the attacker of the Thalys train in August 2015, Ayoub El-Khazzani.

Up to 20 involved in attack

Bullet holes are seen in the window of the Le Carillon restaurant the morning after a series of deadly attacks in Paris Photo: Reuters

With seven suicide bombers dead, seven others under arrest and one man on the run, 15 men have so far been linked to the Paris attacks.

But Belgian intelligence officials have suggested that up to 20 people may have been part of the terrorist cell that planned the attacks, meaning a total of six people could be on the run.

Attack could have been planned in Syria

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).

An anti-Isil activist living in Deir Ezzor, a town partly held by Isil between Raqqa and the Iraqi border, told The Sunday Telegraph 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.

"Police sources said that the weapons used in the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January were bought in Belgium. "

"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."

Likewise, in August, a Frenchman arrested on his return from Syria after a short stay in Raqqa mentioned instructions from Isil to target a concert hall.

“Isil videos contained references to France within the past week and there is some suggestion that they were a signal to a possible cell already inside the country,” one source said.


Attackers may have graduated from Isil training camps

Police said the attackers were “seasoned fighters by the looks of it and perfectly trained, with witnesses describing them as quite young and cool-headed”.

That would indicate a strong chance that at least some were among the thousands of European “foreign fighters” who have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight. If so, they will have graduated from Isil’s training camps, schooled by the group’s leaders, many of them veterans of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist army.

The suicide bomb belts are suggestive of a separate bomb-maker still on the loose. Bomb-makers rarely take part in attacks, their skills considered too vital to lose.

An estimated 520 French nationals are fighting in Syria and another 250 have returned to France, officials said.

The gunmen’s bodies have been taken to Paris’ institute of forensic medicine for DNA checks.

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News