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Suspected mastermind of Paris attacks killed in police raid

Suspected mastermind of Paris attacks killed in police raid
DefenseDefense3 min read

Abdelhamid Abaaoud ISIS Flag

REUTERS/Social Media Website via Reuters

An undated photograph of a man described as Abdelhamid Abaaoud that was published in the Islamic State's online magazine Dabiq and posted on a social media website.

The suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks died in a raid carried out by French police on Wednesday, according to French prosecutors.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud was among the dead identified through forensic testing in the Saint-Denis raid that lasted over 7 hours on Wednesday.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who authorities believe is the mastermind behind Friday night's attacks in Paris, was the main target of the raid. 

Police sources told CNN they had reason to believe the suspects were "about to move on some kind of operation," so the raid came "right on time."

Here is the statement from French prosecutors confirming his death: 

It translates to: "Abdel Hamid Abaaoud has just been formally identified, after comparing fingerprints, as having been killed during the (police) raid. It was the body we had discovered in the building, riddled with bullets."

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a 28-year-old Belgian militant, who had boasted of mounting attacks in Europe for the Islamic State, was accused of orchestrating Friday's coordinated bombings and shootings in the French capital, which killed 129 people. 

Police originally thought he was in Syria, but their investigations led them to a house in the Paris suburb of St. Denis and heavily armed officers stormed the building before dawn, triggering a massive firefight and multiple explosions.

The information that led to Wednesday's raid came from a cell phone found in a garbage can near the Bataclan concert hall, where at least 89 people were killed on Friday night, according to Reuters. At least 129 people died Friday in the bombings and shootings, with hundreds more injured.

The cell phone contained a map of the music venue and a text message saying, essentially, "Let's go."

Abaaoud gave an interview to ISIS' English-language magazine earlier this year in which he bragged about how he had evaded authorities after his photo was circulated in connection to a plot in Belgium.

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Abdelhamid Abaaoud's interview in Dabiq magazine.

In his interview with Dabiq magazine, a slick ISIS propaganda publication, Abaaoud talked about how he went to Belgium to mount attacks against Westerners.

"We spent months trying to find a way into Europe, and by Allah's strength, we succeeded in finally making our way to Belgium," he said. "We were then able to obtain weapons and set up a safe house while we planned to carry out operations against the crusaders."

Their plot was thwarted - the police raided a Belgian terrorist cell in January and killed two of Abaaoud's suspected accomplices, according to The Associated Press. The group had reportedly planned to kill police officers in Belgium.

Abaaoud also taunted intelligence agencies who failed to capture him.

He said he escaped to Syria "despite being chased after by so many intelligence agencies."

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