Athens denies Paris attacks ringleader came through Greece

20th November 2015, Comments 0 comments

Greece on Friday denied a claim by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve that the alleged ringleader of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, had been in the country.

"Until today, no source has provided any evidence to confirm this claim," the Greek citizens' protection ministry said in a statement.

"We ask the French authorities... to publicly make the relevant clarification," the ministry said.

Cazeneuve said on Thursday that three days after the Paris bloodbath on November 13, "intelligence services of a country outside Europe indicated they had knowledge of his presence in Greece".

Abaaoud, who was killed in a police raid in Paris on Wednesday, had previously escaped from Europe to Syria and returned without being detected.

Greek police were looking for Abaaoud in Athens in January, after a Belgian police raid in the eastern town of Verviers broke up a cell planning attacks.

At the time, a cellphone was found to have made calls to the Verviers group from Greece.

The police extradited to Belgium a 33-year-old Algerian man arrested in an Athens raid, but Abaaoud was never found.

Abaaoud, who was under an international arrest warrant, was thought to have been in Syria -- where he had boasted of planning attacks on the West.

He had been checked by police at an airport in Germany on his way to Istanbul in early 2014, officials said, but he was allowed to go as they had no instructions to arrest him.

Abaaoud was involved in four out of six attack plots foiled in France this year, Cazeneuve has said.

Investigators are also probing links to an attempted attack on a high-speed train in August that was thwarted when passengers overpowered the gunman.

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© 2015 AFP

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