Abdelhamid Abaaoud

Abdelhamid Abaaoud
Bearded man holding a book in his right hand and a black flag in his left; a humane in the background
Abaaoud holding the Quran and a black flag of the Islamic State
Born8 April 1987
Anderlecht, Belgium
Died18 November 2015(2015-11-18) (aged 28)
Saint-Denis, France
Cause of deathBallistic trauma
Other namesAbdel-Hamid Abu Oud
Known forBrussels ISIL terror cell
November 2015 Paris attacks
Military career
AllegianceIslamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Battles/warsSyrian Civil War (2014–15)

Abdelhamid Abaaoud (8 April 1987 – 18 November 2015) was a Belgian-Moroccan[1][2][3] Islamic militant who had spent time in Syria.[4] He was suspected of having organized multiple terror attacks in Belgium and France, and is known to have masterminded the November 2015 Paris attacks.[5] Prior to the Paris attacks, there was an international arrest warrant issued for Abaaoud for his activities in recruiting individuals to Islamic terrorism in Syria.[6]

Abaaoud was also known as Abu Omar Soussi (Arabic: أبو عمر السوسي‎, meaning "Abu Omar of Sous", his Moroccan family's place of origin) and as Abu Omar al-Baljīkī (Arabic: أبو عمر البلجيكي‎, meaning Abu Omar of Belgium),[7][8] both of which were noms de guerre.[9][10]

Early life

Abdelhamid, one of six children, was born on 8 April 1987[11] in Anderlecht, a municipality of Brussels, Belgium.[12] He was the son of Omar Abaaoud, who emigrated to Belgium from Morocco in 1975. Omar Abaaoud's first employment after emigration was in mining, before he was employed as a shopkeeper.[10][7][13] [14][deprecated source]

Abaaoud grew up in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, an area in Brussels where "the radical Salafist ideology has flourished among some young Muslims."[15] He attended the select Collège Saint-Pierre [fr] in Uccle from 1999 to 2000.[7][16][17] An article from 2015 said childhood friends claimed Abaaoud had smoked "a lot of cannabis" during his teenage years.[18]

Both Abaaoud and Salah Abdeslam were arrested during December 2010 for attempting to break into a parking garage, according to the lawyer representing Abaaoud. Abaaoud alone had spent time in at least three prisons, and had a number of arrests for assault, and other crimes. The nature of these latter crimes were not disclosed by his lawyer.[19] For a time, sometime prior to 2013, Abdelhamid Abaaoud was involved in trading via employment with his father.[10]

In 2013, he recruited his then 13-year-old brother Younes to join him in Syria.[7][13] They left for Syria on 19 January 2014, for which he was convicted of abduction, having been previously convicted of robbery.[20]

Earlier terrorist activities

Abaaoud is reported to have joined a group within ISIL known as al-Battar Katiba,[10] (the al-Battar Battalion[21][10][22]) during the fight against Bashar al-Assad in 2013. He returned to Belgium by the end of the same year.[23] In 2014, independent journalists Étienne Huver and Guillaume Lhotellier visited the Syria–Turkey border, where they obtained photos and video of Abaaoud's time in Syria. One portion of this material showed Abaaoud and others loading bloody corpses into a truck and trailer before Abaaoud grinned and told the camera: "Before we towed jet skis, motorcycles, quad bikes, big trailers filled with gifts for vacation in Morocco. Now, thank God, following God's path, we're towing apostates, infidels who are fighting us."[24] Within Syria, Abaaoud is known to have been active at Hraytan. A diary entry while there records: "Admittedly there is no joy in spilling blood, although it's nice to see, from time to time, the blood of the infidels".[25]

Analysis of a telephone call established Abaaoud was in contact with Mehdi Nemmouche during January 2014.[26] Nemmouche, a Franco-Algerian jihadist, shot and killed four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels on 24 May 2014.[27] Belgian authorities suspect him of having helped to organize and finance a terror cell in Verviers. This cell was raided on 15 January 2015 and two members of the cell were killed. In an interview with Dabiq, the magazine of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), Abaaoud bragged on social media about going to Belgium to lead the cell but escaped back to Syria, even being stopped by a police officer who compared him to a photo but did not identify him.[24] In July 2015, following the Verviers raid, he was convicted in absentia and sentenced to twenty years in prison by a Belgian judge for organizing terrorism.[20]

In an interview with Dabiq magazine published February 2015, Abaaoud was reported to have made comments of his intention to fight persons of the Western world which he identifies as "the crusaders".[28]

Abaaoud was put under investigation as a possible link to four out of six attacks foiled in France since spring 2015.[29] This included an attempted attack by Sid Ahmed Ghlam [fr] at a church in Villejuif near Paris in April 2015, as well as the thwarted Thalys train attack, which occurred on 21 August 2015.[30]

According to a BBC report on 19 November 2015, after Abaaoud's death, France's Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters that he had received intelligence that Abaaoud passed through Greece on his return from Syria. It is unclear whether the Belgian had concealed himself among the thousands of migrants arriving in Greece before heading for other EU nations. Greek officials subsequently insisted that there was no evidence that Abaaoud had been in that country.[31][deprecated source] Confirming that Abaaoud had left for Syria last year, Cazeneuve said no EU states had signalled his return.[29]

Paris attacks and death

By 16 November 2015, French and Belgian security services were focused on Abaaoud, who they believed to have been the leader of the Paris attacks.[32]

On 18 November, French authorities conducted a raid that ended in the injury of five police officers, three deaths, and at least five arrests, although some reports later indicated eight.[33] The raid took place in the suburb of Saint-Denis in north Paris, and targeted Abaaoud.[34][35] He was later confirmed to be one of the three fatalities in the raid.[36][37]

The police were aware that Hasna Ait Boulahcen, a suspect in a drug ring investigation during which her telephone was tapped, also of Moroccan origin, was an associate of Abaaoud. They followed her to a Saint-Denis apartment building at 8 Rue Corbillon on 17 November and saw Abaaoud entering with her.[38][39] This was the building where the subsequent raid started at 4:20 am on 18 November.

The prosecutor's office said that Abaaoud's body was found in the apartment that had been targeted in the raid and that the identification was made using skin samples, according to some published reports.[40] However, other reports referred to identification by fingerprint samples taken from Abaaoud's mutilated body[41] which had been riddled with bullets and bits of shrapnel from a grenade explosion.[42] Abaaoud's fingerprints were found on an AK-47 rifle found in an abandoned car.[43][deprecated source]

According to French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, Abaaoud had "played a decisive role" in the Paris attacks and played a part in four of six terror attacks foiled since spring of 2015, with one alleged jihadist claiming Abaaoud had trained him personally.[44] The French prosecutor also stated on 24 November that Abaaoud was planning another attack in La Défense, a major business district in the Paris Metropolitan Area.[45] West Midlands Police also recovered nearly 50 video clips and digital photographs from his phone.[46] Among the photos were those of the Bull Ring shopping centre in Birmingham and other locations in the city. Abaaoud had visited the United Kingdom in August 2015. He arrived at Dover by ferry despite being hunted by Belgian authorities.[47]

Connections to other Islamist terrorists

Abaaoud and Salah Abdeslam were in prison together in Belgium.[48] Abaaoud was apparently connected to Sharia4Belgium.[49]

Abaaoud was thought by counter-terrorism officials to have been close to Abu Bakr al-Bagdadi, and the link between ISIL leadership in Syria and terror cells operating in Europe.[25] He was also connected to Charaffe al Mouadan, who was based in Syria and a participating member of ISIS prior to his death on 24 December.[50]

On 5 December, officials confirmed Abaaoud had two connections living in the Bordesley Green and Alum Rock areas of Birmingham, England.[51][52]

See also


  1. ^ "Who is Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the so-called brain behind the events of Paris?" (in French). RT. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 21 November 2015. Le terroriste présumé possède la double nationalité belge et marocaine - the terrorist is presumed possibly to have dual-nationality of Belgian and Moroccon)
  2. ^ "Aide du Maroc pour trouver le Belgo-Marocain Abaaoud, le roi reçu par Hollande" [Morocco's help finding the Belgo-Moroccan Abaaoud, King received by Holland]. Le Point International. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  3. ^ "Saint-Denis: le renseignement marocain à l'origine de la localisation des terroristes" [Saint-Denis: Moroccan intelligence behind the location of terrorists]. RTBF. 18 November 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  4. ^ McDonnell, Patrick J; Zavis, Alexandra (19 November 2015). "Suspected Paris attack mastermind's Europe ties facilitated travel from Syria". Los Angeles Times, in the Sacramento Bee. Los Angeles, USA. Archived from the original on 21 November 2015. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  5. ^ "Suspected Mastermind of Paris Attacks Named". Sky News. 16 November 2015. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  6. ^ "Paris attacks: Belgium has 'new information' on Salah Abdeslam". Financial Times. 20 November 2015. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d Andrew Higgins (24 January 2015). "Belgium Confronts the Jihadist Danger Within". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  8. ^ "Abaaoud – Profile of man behind Paris attacks". Sky News. 18 November 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  9. ^ Waugh, Rob (18 November 2015). "Who is Abdelhamid Abaaoud? 8 facts on alleged Paris terror mastermind - Metro News". Metro. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  10. ^ a b c d e David Connett (17 November 2015). "Paris attacks: 'Mastermind' of attacks Abdelhamid Abaaoud turned back on 'fantastic' life, says father". The Independent. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  11. ^ Pablo R. Suanzes (18 November 2015). "Abdelhamiid Abaaoud, el 'cerebro' belga de los ataques de París". El Mundo (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  12. ^ "Paris attacks: footage shows moment shooting starts in Bataclan theatre – video". The Guardian. 15 November 2015. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  13. ^ a b "Alleged Belgian plot mastermind shamed family, says father". The Malaysian Insider. 20 January 2015. Archived from the original on 18 November 2015. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  14. ^ "We wish he had burnt to death, say family of bomb ringleader: Cousin says his village 'rejoiced' at hearing of his death and he had 'no rightful place on earth'". Daily Mail. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  15. ^ "Paris attacks: Key suspect Abdelhamid Abaaoud". BBC News. 16 November 2015. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  16. ^ "Abdelhamid Abaaoud, l'homme le plus recherché de Belgique a fréquenté une école huppée" [Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the most wanted man in Belgium attended a posh school]. Sudinfo.Belgium. 20 January 2015. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  17. ^ "Everything you need to know about the jihadist Abdelhamid Abaaoud, alleged mastermind of the attacks of Paris, killed Wednesday in Saint-Denis (video)". La Capitale. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  18. ^ G. Rayner [1] Accessed May 27th, 2017
  19. ^ Matthew Dalton (19 November 2015). "Abdelhamid Abaaoud Had Been Arrested Multiple Times in Belgium". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  20. ^ a b "De rattenvanger van Molenbeek veroordeeld" [Convicted of Jean Pied Piper]. De Standaard. 30 July 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  21. ^ "al-Battar". United States Naval Academy. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  22. ^ Evan Hill (1 March 2011). "The day the Katiba fell". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  23. ^ Ian Black; Josh Halliday (16 November 2015). "Abdelhamid Abaaoud: alleged mastermind of Paris attacks". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  24. ^ a b Raphael Satter; John-Thor Dahlburg (16 November 2015). "Paris attacks: Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud identified as presumed mastermind". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  25. ^ a b Mariano Castillo; Paul Cruickshank (19 November 2015). "Who was Abdelhamid Abaaoud, suspected ringleader of Paris attack?". CNN. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  26. ^ "Abdelhamid Abaaoud, l'instigateur présumé des attentats tué à Saint-Denis" [Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged instigator of the attacks killed at Saint-Denis]. Le Monde. 17 November 2015. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  27. ^ "Paris attacks: Who was Abdelhamid Abaaoud?". BBC News. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  28. ^ Josh Halliday and Jonathan Bucks (16 November 2015). "Paris attacks 'mastermind' Abdel-Hamid Abu Oud: what we know". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  29. ^ a b no by-line. "Paris attacks: 'Ringleader' Abdelhamid Abaaoud killed in raid". BBC News. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  30. ^ "Qui est Abdelhamid Abaaoud, le commanditaire présumé des attentats ciblé par le RAID à Saint-Denis ?". Le Monde. 16 November 2015. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  31. ^ Reuters (19 November 2015). "No evidence Paris attack mastermind was ever in Greece -Greek official". Daily Mail. London, England. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  32. ^ Aurelien Breeden, Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura and Katrin Bennhold (16 November 2015). "Hollande Calls for New Powers to 'Eradicate' ISIS After Paris Attacks". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  33. ^ Reguly, Eric (19 November 2015). "Two dead, eight arrested after police raid Paris apartment in hunt for suspects". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  34. ^ "Paris attacks: Abdelhamid Abaaoud, mastermind of Friday's attack, targeted in major police raid in St Denis". The Daily Telegraph. 18 November 2015.
  35. ^ Brethes, Sara (17 November 2015). "Female suicide bomber and another jihadist killed in Paris assault". Yahoo! News. Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  36. ^ "French Prosecutor Says Terrorist Abdel Hamid Abaaoud Is Dead". Bloomberg. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  37. ^ "Paris Siege: Third Body Found At Scene". Sky News. 20 November 2015. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  38. ^ Thomas, Leigh; Bon, Gerard (21 November 2015). "Tapped phone led Paris attack leader to his death". UK. Reuters. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  39. ^ Samuel Osborne (20 November 2015). "Hasna Ait Boulahcen – Europe's first female suicide bomber – 'did not blow herself up'". The Independent. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  40. ^ Bloomberg and Associated Press (19 November 2015). "Paris attacks suspected mastermind killed in Saint-Denis raids". Toronto Star. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  41. ^ Julian, Borger (19 November 2015). "Abdelhamid Abaaoud: dead Paris terror 'leader' leaves behind countless what-ifs". The Guardian. London, England. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  42. ^ "Faces of ISIS: Abdelhamid Abaaoud – dead". CBS News. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  43. ^ Jennifer Newton; Corey Charlton (24 November 2015). "Hunt for new Paris suspect: Police release picture of 'dangerous and probably armed' 30-year-old who was seen with Europe's most wanted man two days before massacre". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  44. ^ Botelho, Greg; Shoichet, Catherine E. (20 November 2015). "Paris attacks ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud dead". CNN. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  45. ^ Emily Shapiro (24 November 2015). "Paris Ringleader Planned Another Attack on Major Business District for Days Later, Prosecutor Says". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  46. ^ Ayman Mohyeldin; Mac William Bishop; Tim Uehlinger (25 December 2015). "Paris Attacks: Abdelhamid Abaaoud's Photos Offer Glimpse of ISIS Life". NBC News. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  47. ^ William Watkinson (20 December 2015). "UK terror attack: Paris attacks planner Abdelhamid Abaaoud had photos of Birmingham's Bullring on his phone". International Business Times. Archived from the original on 23 December 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  48. ^ G. Botelho; M. Haddad; C.E. Shoichet (20 November 2015). "Paris attacks ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud dead". CNN. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  49. ^ Mary Kay Linge (22 November 2015). "Fugitive Paris jihadist loved gay bars, drugs and PlayStation". New York Post. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  50. ^ Jamie Crawford (30 December 2015). "Coalition forces kill ISIS leader connected to Paris attack". CNN. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  51. ^ "Paris Gunmen Had Links In Britain - Report". MSN. Sky News. 5 December 2015. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  52. ^ James Cartledge (13 December 2015). "Paris terror mastermind reportedly 'had pictures of Birmingham on his mobile phone'". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 14 December 2015.


E. Dearden - Article The Independent 25 May 2017

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