Rifles found in abandoned Paris car; 3 attackers identified
French police said Sunday they had found several Kalashnikovs in the black SEAT car used by the terrorists in Friday’s deadly attacks. Elsewhere, police arrested six members of the family of one of the jihadists, named as Omar Ismail Mostefai who lived in the city of Chartres, southwest of Paris.
A black SEAT car used by gunmen who fired at people in restaurants during the attacks in Paris on Friday has been found in the eastern suburb of Montreuil, police said Sunday.
According to AFP, the car contained “several Kalashnikovs”.
Police have not confirmed whether the attackers who used the car are still on the run.
The car — the second vehicle police have found linked to Friday’s attacks — was used in the shootings at the cafe on Rue Fontaine-au-Roi where five were killed and in the restaurant on Rue de Charonne, where 19 were gunned down, according to prosecutor Francois Molins.
Police have identified one of the gunmen who blew himself up at the Bataclan concert hall, the scene of the bloodiest attack where 89 people were killed, as 29-year-old Omar Ismail Mostefai, a Paris native of Algerian descent.
Mostefaï had a criminal record of petty crimes, having been convicted eight times between 2004 and 2010, but never serving jail time.
Six people close to Omar Ismail Mostefai, who took part in the killings at the Bataclan concert hall and the first of Friday’s attackers to be identified, have been detained. Among those detained are his father, a 34-year-old brother and a sister-in-law, judicial and police sources said.
They are being questioned as part of routine efforts to verify information about the attacker, the sources said. The sister-in-law is reported by BFMTV to have told police that the family lived a “quiet life”.
“It’s a crazy thing, it’s madness,” the brother told AFP Saturday before being detained, referring to the carnage that left 129 people dead.
Omar Ismail Mostefaï used to regularly attend the mosque in Luce in southwest Paris, a source close to the enquiry informed AFP.
Another two identified terrorists identified believed to be Syrian nationals, who entered Europe through Greece several months ago. They are 25-year-old Ahmed Almuhamed, the Serbian newspaper Blic reported, while Le Figaro disclosed Abbdulakbak B, who was born in 1990.
Greek officials said one and perhaps both the assailants had passed through Greece in October from Turkey alongside Syrian refugees fleeing violence in their homeland.
Prosecutors said the slaughter — claimed by Islamic State as revenge for French military action in Syria and Iraq — appeared to involve a multinational team with links to the Middle East, Belgium and possibly Germany as well as home-grown French roots.
“We are at war. We have been hit by an act of war, organized methodically by a terrorist, jihadist army,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told TF1 television Saturday night.
“Because we are at war we will take exceptional measures. We will act and we will hit them. We will hit this enemy to destroy them, obviously in France and Europe … but also in Syria and Iraq,” he said. “We will win.”
All seven of the militants wore identical explosive vests and did not hesitate to blow themselves up – a worrying change of tactic for jihadists targeting France.
Unlike the attacks in London in 2005 where the bombers’ explosives were stored in backpacks, Friday’s attackers used the sort of suicide vests normally associated with bombings in the Middle East.
“Suicide vests require a munitions specialist. To make a reliable and effective explosive is not something anyone can do,” a former French intelligence chief told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“A munitions specialist is someone who is used to handling explosives, who knows how to make them, to arrange them in a way that the belt or vest is not so unwieldy that the person can’t move,” he added. “And it must also not blow up by accident.”
French authorities say the vests appeared to have been made with TATP, or acetone peroxyde, that is easy for amateurs to make at home but is highly unstable. The vests also included a battery, a detonation button and shrapnel to maximize injuries.
“They didn’t bring these vests from Syria: the more you shake these things, the more you multiply the risks,” said the former intelligence chief. “It’s very likely he is here, in France or Europe, one or several guys who
have come back from jihadist areas and who learned over there.”
‘Not cannon fodder’
Three specialists contacted by AFP said it was probable the vests were made by someone outside the group that carried out the attacks. “The explosive specialist is too precious. He never participates in attacks,” said Alain Chouet, a former director at France’s DGSE external intelligence agency. “So he’s around, somewhere.”
“The bomb-maker is not cannon fodder,” added Pierre Martinet, another former DGSE official who now works in corporate security. “He’s there to make more suicide vests and allow other guys to carry out
Making a vest is extremely complicated. “It can’t be done in a couple of days,” said the former intelligence chief.
“It takes weeks of training, and you have to work under the watch of a ‘master’. It’s meticulous work.”
On the eve of the UN global climate conference in the northern suburbs of Paris later this month, followed by New Year’s celebrations and next year’s Euro 2016 football championships, concerns are high.
“It’s extremely worrying,” said the retired intelligence chief who asked not to be named. “Every service is on tenterhooks.”