French official have named Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, Belgian national of Moroccan origin, as the alleged mastermind behind the dreadful attacks in Paris last Friday, where 129 people were killed and at least 350 were injured. He was allegedly the leader of “an Islamic State cell” in Belgium and the mastermind of a terrorist plot that was foiled in police operation in Vervries, eastern Belgium in January 2015.
Intelligence agencies had reportedly intercepted Abaaoud’s phone calls made from Greece to one inmate in Belgian prison who was also brother of two suspects killed by police in Vervries. Abaaoud has been on the run ever since. A police operation in Athens after a Belgian request last January had ended in the extradition of an Algerian citizen. Reckoning KTG’s report of January 17th 2015, it seems clear that the Belgians were seeking to have Abaaoud arrested in Athens.
Abaaoud’s home in Belgium was raided in January 2015 after police intercepted phone calls between him and suspected jihadi following counter-terror raids a week earlier aimed at dismantling the Belgian terror cell. In janurary 2014 he had traveled to Syria.
VTM, a Flemish-language channel, reported today, Monday:
“Abaaoud made calls from Greece to the brother of one of two heavily armed suspects killed in Verviers during the counter-terrorism raids in January.”
In January 2015, VTM had reported:
“The police had been informed of suspicious telephone calls between an inmate of the Liège Lantin prison and a man returned from the fighting in Syria, now established in Greece.
The prisoner also maintained regular contact with his brother, one of the two jihadists killed Thursday during the anti-terrorist action in Verviers.
The interception of the phone calls by police led to the operation that foiled the terror plot and planned attacks on Belgian soil.
Police had identified the one who pulled the strings from the point of view of both operational and financial.”
On January 16th and 17th 2015, KTG had reported citing several Greek, US and Belgian media about a police operation in an apartment in Pangrati suburb of Athens. Greek police had launched the operation following a request by the Belgian authorities in the context of investigation concerning the Belgium operation against jihadists in the city of Vervries two days ago.” The Belgians had allegedly sent “a name and one mobile phone number to the Greek police.”
The alleged mastermind of Vervries’ terror plot, “a 27-year-old Belgian of Moroccan origin, who was trained in Syria” was not in the apartment. Police detained four to five people “from the Arab world”, one of them, an Algerian citizen was later extradited to Belgium.
The police operation in Vervries had ended with the killing of two suspects and the arrest of a third one.
What was interesting at that time was that the Belgians dismissed any connection between the Greek police operation and the counter-terror operation in Vervries and that “the men detained in Athens had no link to the terror plot in Belgium.”
Belgian federal magistrate Eric Van der Sypt had told CBS News that “his office made the determination based on information shared by Greek police.”
CBS reported also that “the ringleader suspected to have ran the operation in Belgium from Greece was an Algerian man, and not a Belgian of Moroccan origin, as Belgian media reported.”
“A U.S. official confirmed to CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton that the suspected ringleader returned from Syria and allegedly ran the operation from Greece to attack police and government officials in Belgium.” (CBS news)
According to the Americans the Vervries plot mastermind was Algerian, according to the Belgians he was Belgian of Moroccan origin.
Fact seems to be that they both were trained in Syria and that both had been in Greece. The name of the Algerian has not been revealed.
According to German RTL TV, Abaaoud is currently in Syria.
The Guardian gives excerpts of an interview of Abaadoud with the Islamic State magazine Dabiq, he boasted that he had been able to plot attacks against the west right under the nose of Belgian intelligence agencies, and that he was in Syria in February.
Among others he said
“They arrested Muslims in Greece, Spain, France, and Belgium in order to apprehend me … All those arrested were not even connected to our plans! May Allah release all Muslims from the prisons of these crusaders.” He described as “crusaders of America, France, Canada, Australia, Germany, and Belgium,”
On Monday, an Iraqi-based Isis group released a video threatening with new attacks and warning Washington “to be new Paris” (ERT TV).
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned on Sunday that “Europe should be prepared for a repeat attack in the coming few days and weeks.” Valls said also that French “authorities knew attacks were being prepared.”
Associated Press published a report on Sunday according to which “Iraqi intelligence had warned France of Isis attack day before the Paris carnage.”
Alternate Minister for Migation Yannis Mouzalas told Mega TV this morning that “security measures have been stepped up at possible targets.”
KTG’s report original title Greek police detains four in connection with jihadists in Belgium.