Top suspect in Paris attacks Abaaoud was killed in raid
The suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was among those killed in the special, pre-dawn raid in Saint-Denis on Wednesday, city prosecutor François Molins confirmed.
Late Wednesday, Washington Post, quoting two senior European officials, had reported that Abaaoud was killed in the raid.
However, Molins did not confirm the death when journalists asked him about the fate of the terrorist after the seven-hour siege involving about 100 police and army personnel ended.
Molins said on Thursday that Abaaoud’s body was found riddled with bullets and shrapnel in the apartment in northern Paris suburb where the raid was conducted.
The Belgian national, 27, was identified from his fingerprints.
Abaaoud’ cousin, who was also present in the apartment, had screamed “Help me, help me”, before blowing herself up using the suicide vest. Eight people were arrested in the raid on the property in Saint- Denis. Key suspect Salah Abdelslam was not arrested and he is on the run.
At least 247 jihadists who traveled to Syria and Iraq to join Islamic State, have returned to France, Valls said.
French lower house of parliament later voted to extend the state of emergency by three months. The measure must now be approved by the upper house before it can become law.
“I say this with the utmost care – but we know there may be a risk of the possibility chemical and biological weapons,” Valls said.
He said France was facing “a new kind of war (…) where terror is the chief goal and the main weapon”.
He also called on Europe to urgently adopt measures to share airline passenger information in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris.
“More than ever, it’s time for Europe to adopt the text… to guarantee the traceability of movements, including within the union. It’s a condition of our collective security,” he said.
In neighbouring Belgium, where many of the Paris attackers lived, Prime Minister Charles Michel announced a package of additional anti-terror measures, and said 400 million euros ($427 million) would be earmarked to expand the fight.
“All democratic forces have to work together to strengthen our security,” Michel said.
Muslims in France on the edge
Muslims in France are on the edge as they fear a backlash over the Nov. 13 terror attacks.
They are Muslims, not terrorists and for them, terrorists are impostors. But that will not satisfy some people, especially in the far right.
The French Muslim Council will ask all 2,500 mosques in the country to condemn “all forms of violence or terrorism” at Friday prayers.
On Wednesday, a young woman in a headscarf was attacked as she was leaving a metro station in central Marseille by a man who, she said, accused her of being a terrorist.
She was punched in the chest and hit with an object thought to have been a box cutter.
Members of the Muslim community in the 18th district of Paris said they are concerned.
“We aren’t feeling too secure right now,” said a 30-year-old man named Adlan. “This is about Syria. But I’m worried that there are French people who don’t understand this. But it’s hard to accept anything when 129 people have been killed.”
Muslims are distinctly aware that the division that the terrorists seek to open up in French society, and within their own religion, could easily occur with the help of far right.
“There are politicians in France who will seek to exploit these attacks and to attack Islam and social cohesion,” Mohammed Mraizika, secretary general of the Union of Mosques of France (UMF) said. “We are telling people not to cede to provocation.”
Jewish teacher stabbed
A Jewish teacher has been stabbed in Marseille by three people claiming to be Islamic State (IS) supporters.
Three people on two scooters approached the teacher in the street before showing him a picture of Mohamed Merah, who killed seven people in a series of attacks in southern France in 2012, on a phone.
“The three people insulted, threatened and then stabbed their victim in the arm and leg. They were interrupted by the arrival of a car and fled,” prosecutor Brice Robin said.
One of the attackers was wearing an Islamic State t-shirt, he added.
The victim suffered three knife wounds and was taken to hospital, but officials said his life was not in danger.
IS video threatens attacks on NY
IS has released a new video threatening attacks on New York.
The footage shows images of Times Square, crowds of tourists and a suicide bomber making an explosive vest and apparently preparing for an assault on the ‘Big Apple’. French- and Arabic-speaking fighters are heard praising the attacks.
At the end of the video, a suicide bomber is shown making an explosive vest, putting it on and zipping up his jacket.
The next shot is a new location: a crowded Times Square, Herald Square and two mid-town Manhattan crossroads in a New York still hurting from the 9/11 attacks of 2001. The militant is seen holding a trigger and the video suddenly goes blank.
Among the interviewed jihadists is a small boy with fire in his eyes who congratulates his ‘brothers’ on this “blessed operation,” referring to the massacre in Paris on Friday. He claims that these attacks are only the “start.”
New York police and mayor confirmed they are aware of the IS footage and though there is no current or specific threat to the City at this time, New York will remain at a heightened state of vigilance.