Authorities believe that ISIS-linked extremists were behind the brutal attacks which killed 129 people and injured another 352 on Friday night in Paris, and details about the attackers and their possible accomplices are continuing to emerge. Here’s what we know so far.
• Intelligence officials believe that the attackers communicated with and were possibly trained by Syria-based members of ISIS.
• A manhunt is underway for 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam, one of three brothers suspected of involvement in the attack.
• Three of the dead attackers have been identified, including one of Abdeslam’s brothers.
• At least three of the seven dead attackers were French citizens.
• Authorities have arrested seven suspects in Belgium, where at least two of the attackers had been living.
• New details about a Syrian passport found on one of the attackers.
Seven Attackers Killed, Manhunt on for Eighth
At least seven men are known to have executed the attacks, and all seven were killed, six by detonating their explosive suicide vests, and one after being shot by police. An eighth suspect, identified by French police as 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam, is still at large. Authorities describe the Belgian-born French national as “dangerous” and have warned citizens not to try and apprehend him if they see him.
Salah Abdeslam is one of three brothers who authorities believe were involved in the Paris attacks. One of his brothers, Ibrahim, was reportedly killed in the assault. The AP reports that French authorities had stopped Salah near the Belgian border just hours after the attacks, but let him and his two passengers go after checking his ID. Salah’s other brother has reportedly been arrested in Belgium
Until midday Saturday, reports had indicated there were eight assailants who had been killed, but only seven had been confirmed dead. On Sunday, authorities indicated they were looking for an eighth possible attacker, who they subsequently identified as Abdelam.
Direct Links to ISIS
According to several reports, the Paris attackers had communicated with Syria-based members of ISIS, as opposed to just having been inspired by the group. French and American officials told the New York Times that “the attackers had operated with high levels of sophistication,” suggesting that “the plot involved considerable planning and input from an organized group.” Meanwhile, Iraqi intelligence officials told the AP that, “The Paris attacks appear to have been planned in Raqqa, Syria — the Islamic State’s de-facto capital — where the attackers were trained specifically for this operation and with the intention of sending them to France. Officials also said a sleeper cell in France then met with the attackers after their training and helped them to execute the plan.”
Seven Arrested in Belgium
At least seven arrests have been made in Brussels of people suspected of having connections to the attacks. The Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday that, according to U.S. law enforcement officials, French authorities now believe that the attack was planned and financed within a small terrorist cell in Brussels, likely incorporating several participants who had experience living in Paris, based on the sophistication of Friday’s assault. The investigation in Brussels has focused on the district of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, where multiple raids seem to have been conducted by police. Belgian authorities also announced on Sunday that at least two of the Paris attackers were French and had been living in Belgium.
Three Attackers Were French Citizens
According to the AP, at least three of the seven attackers were French nationals. Another report, from the AFP, says that three of the people involved in the attacks were brothers. A fourth brother may be the person the manhunt is after.
Three Attackers Identified
One of the attackers involved in the Bataclan concert siege has been identified in French media reports as 29-year-old Ismaïl Omar Mostefai, a French national whose fingerprint was obtained from one of the bombers’ severed fingers. The AFP and Guardian report that Mostefai was known by French authorities and had been arrested but never served time in jail. From Courcouronnes, south of Paris, but now a resident of the city of Chartres, Mostefai also had links to radical Islam but was apparently never suspected of terrorism. Six people connected to Mostefai have now been detained by authorities, including his father, brother, and sister in law. Mostefai’s younger brother told the AFP that he hadn’t seen him in years, adding, “It’s crazy, insane. I was in Paris myself [Friday] night, I saw what a mess it was.”
On Sunday, French authorities confirmed that they knew the identities of two more attackers, but would not confirm their names. One is believed to be Ibrahim Abdeslam, the brother of the manhunt suspect. The Washington Post additionally reports that both brothers lived in Belgium, and that Ibrahim was a suicide bomber while Salah helped with logistics for the attack, including renting one of the cars used by the assailants. Another brother has already been arrested in Belgium, according to French media reports. The Post also identifies a third dead attacker, another Belgian resident named Bilal Hadfi, who investigators have confirmed had fought with ISIS in Syria.
Syrian Passport Found on One Attacker
A Syrian passport was found next to one of the attackers who blew themselves up outside the Stade de France on Friday, and Greek officials say that the same passport had been registered by a refugee in Greece. This of course indicates the possibility that at least one of the attackers may have entered Europe as a migrant.
On Saturday, the Serbian newspaper Blic reported that the passport belonged to a 25-year old Syrian named Ahmed Almohamed, and published this scan of it:
Blic also reports that the man carrying this passport entered Serbia on October 7, after having entered Greece on October 3. Additional reportingby the Guardian indicates the passport was then scanned again in Croatia and Austria after that. None of this information has been confirmed by French authorities at this time.
It is worth nothing, however, that due to the value of Syrian passports in the migrant community, it’s possible that the passport’s original owner and the attacker are not the same person, just as it’s possible the passport was stolen or could be a forgery. Regardless, this connection is sure to become a political wildfire in Europe, which is in the midst of the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. (Earlier reports had indicated that two Syria passports were found among the Paris attackers, but there now seems to have been only one.)
Getaway Car Found with Guns Inside
An abandoned black Seat Leon has been found in the eastern Paris suburb of Montreuil with three Kalashnikov rifles insides, as well as several full and empty magazines. This is the getaway car that police believe was used by some of the restaurant shooters.
Attackers Worked In Three Teams
According to Paris prosecutor Francois Molins, the assailants split themselves into three coordinated teams: one at the Stade de France, one traveling in a black Seat car which fired on multiple locations, and one traveling in a black Volkswagen Polo. One of the cars was registered to a French citizen, possibly the eighth attacker, who was later stopped at the Belgian border with two other people. At that time the driver’s name was not yet connected to the attack so he and his passengers were allowed to continue into Belgium.
The Paris attacks began around 9:20 p.m. when one of three terrorists blew himself up at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis. The first two suicide bombings happened outside the stadium, and the third by a nearby McDonalds. One civilian was killed in these bombings. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that one of the three attackers had a ticket for France-Germany soccer match that was underway, and detonated his suicide belt after being turned away at one of the stadium’s entrances. Police suspect his aim was to blow himself up in the stadium so as to cause a deadly stampede among the crowd. In other news regarding the stadium attackers, a Syrian passport was reportedly found by the remains of two of the suicide bombers there.
Le Bataclan Attackers
Another three men perpetrated the siege of Le Bataclan concert hall, resulting in the systematic slaughter of at least 89 people who were attending a sold-out rock concert — the deadliest attack of the night. Witnesses said the attackers seemed very young, were wearing tight black clothing, carried Kalachnikov rifles, and reportedly shouted “allah u akbar” and mentioned Syria and Iraq during the attack. When police commandos finally raided the concert hall, two of the attackers were killed when they detonated their suicide vests, and the third was shot and killed by police.
One of the Bataclan attackers has been identified as Ismaïl Omar Mostefai.
Seventh Attacker Blew Himself Up
The seventh attacker, about whom nothing has yet been reported, detonated his suicide bomb inside the Voltaire restaurant in Paris’ 11th district, seriously injuring a civilian.
TATP Explosives Used in Suicide Vests
According to a Paris prosecutor, all of the attackers wore explosives that were made from triacetone triperoxide (TATP), a favorite explosive material among terrorists that is easy to make and difficult to detect. It was also the type of explosive used by failed shoe bomber Richard Reid in 2001.
Possible Connection in Germany
In addition, German authorities reportedly believe that a 51-year-old Montenegrin man who was arrested in Germany on November 5 may be somehow linked to the Paris attacks. He was found in possession of firearms and a car full of explosives, and his car’s GPS navigator was reportedly set to take him to Paris.
For a visual and chronological run through of Friday night’s attacks, headhere.
This post has been updated throughout as this story has continued to develop.
French war planes target Islamic State
French war planes pounded the so-called Islamic State group’s de facto Syrian capital Raqqa, destroying a command post and a training camp, the French Defence Ministry said.
In its first air strike against IS since the string of deadly Paris attacks claimed by the jihadist group, 12 war planes, including 10 fighter bombers, dropped 20 bombs on the targets.
“The first target destroyed was used by Daesh (an Arabic acronym for IS) as a command post, jihadist recruitment centre and arms and munitions depot. The second held a terrorist training camp,” a ministry statement said.
The planes left from Jordan and the United Arab Emirates and the operation was conducted in coordination with American forces, the ministry said.
French President Francois Hollande on Saturday blamed the Islamic State group for the gun and suicide attacks that left at least 129 dead in Paris on Friday, calling the attacks an “act of war”.
Meanwhile new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today faced the dilemma of whether to make good on a campaign pledge to halt air strikes against the Islamic State group.