Belgian jihadist probed as Paris attacks mastermind: French source

16th November 2015, Comments 0 comments

A leading Belgian jihadist in Syria, who has boasted in videos about planning attacks in Europe and evaded police in his home country, is being investigated as a possible mastermind of Paris attacks, a French source said Monday.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a 28-year-old Belgian of Moroccan descent, has fought along the Islamic State group in Syria and has been on the run since police stormed a jihadist cell in eastern Belgium's Verviers in January.

Investigators now see a link with the worst terror attacks in French history, which on Friday night led to the deaths of 129 people and were claimed by IS.

"It's a serious hypothesis," a French source close the investigation told AFP, adding that Abaaoud is still living in Syria -- large areas of which are IS-controlled.

Abaaoud, who earlier this year was interviewed by IS's magazine Dabiq, was in contact with at least one of the Abdeslam brothers.

Brahim Abdeslam was one of the suicide attackers in Paris, and his brother Salah is being hunted by police.

"Abaaoud and Salah Abdeslam knew each other and were involved in the same petty crimes," the French source said.

"This element and Abaaoud's fanaticism in Syria allow us to link him to the attacks," the source said, warning however that it was still "too early" to make a conclusion.

burs-ser/pdw


© 2015 AFP

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