Mastermind of Paris Attacks Reportedly Killed in Raid by French Police
Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the man French authorities identified as the mastermind of the Paris terror attacks, may have been killed in a Wednesday-morning raid by police in a suburb just north of the City of Light. His death has not been officially confirmed or denied at this time. On Monday, it had been reported that Abaaoud had returned to Syria earlier this year and that he presumably was still there, overseeing the Paris operation from afar.
Some sources are quoting unnamed European intelligence officers as saying that Abaaoud (right) was one of the two people killed (the other was a woman who blew up her own suicide vest) the raid at a house in Saint Denis. Forensic teams used DNA evidence from the scene to confirm Abaaoud's body, according to the intelligence officials.
The raid involved a massive gunfight between police and the suspects inside, with over 5,000 rounds fired over the course of an hour starting around 4:15 a.m. local time. Along with the two dead, eight more people were arrested. The Paris prosecutor leading the investigation of the terror attacks, Francois Molins, did not say that Abaaoud had been killed, though he did say that Abaaoud was not one of the eight arrested. “As I speak, I am unable to give you a definitive number and identities of people killed,” he said.
That was immediately after the raid, though. The information leaked to the Washington Post identifying Abaaoud as the other person killed hit newswires many hours later. The house at the site of the raid was discovered by investigators using a discarded cellphone, through which they were able to identify several safe houses possibly used by the perpetrators of Friday's nights attacks. The people there at the house at the time of the raid may have been planning further incidents, according to the prosecutor.
“A new team of terrorists was neutralized, and all elements suggest that with regards to their armament, their structured organization and their determination, this commando group could have taken action,” Molins said.
Five police officers and one civilian were injured in the battle, and a police dog was killed. Investigators are continuing to comb through the rubble for further evidence.