Suspected Mastermind of Paris Massacre Killed in Terror Raid

Rescue workers and medics work by victims in a Paris restaurant, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Rescue workers and medics work by victims in a Paris restaurant, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

The man suspected of ringleading last Friday's Paris attacks that killed 129 people, who bragged that he could always stay one step ahead of Western intelligence, was killed in the police raid north of Paris Wednesday. Investigators also confirmed that his cousin was killed, after she apparently blew herself up. Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, also had been linked to a string of thwarted attacks, including the plot to kill passengers on a Paris-bound high-speed train in August, a plot that three young Americans helped foil. He was identified from skin samples after the Saint-Denis raid, the French prosecutor's office reported Thursday. Abaaoud had claimed he successfully moved back and forth from Europe to Syria coordinating terror attacks, and narrowly escaped a January police raid in the Belgian city of Verviers. “Allah blinded their vision and I was able to leave... despite being chased after by so many intelligence agencies," he told the ISIS magazine Dabiq. Police say they launched Wednesday's operation after receiving information from tapped phone calls, surveillance and tipoffs suggesting that Abaaoud was holed up in the apartment. Eight other people were arrested. During the raid, according to one police official, an officer approached Abaaoud's cousin, Hasna Aitboulahcen, and asked her, "Where is your boyfriend?" She responded angrily: "He's not my boyfriend!" Then there was an explosion. The bodies recovered in the raid were badly mangled, with a part of the woman's spine landing on a police car, complicating formal identification. Her possible role in the Paris massacre was unclear. The manhunt for at least two other suspects believed to have participated in the attacks continued Thursday. Police have identified one of them as Salah Abdeslam, who grew up in the same Belgian district as Abaaoud, the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek. The Friday attacks wounded hundreds of people, and left Europe and much of the world on edge. French lawmakers Thursday considered prolonging the nation's state of emergency for an additional three months. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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