Thursday, 19 November 2015

Abdelhamid Abaaoud



28 year old Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian national, grew up in Molenbeek, a district of Brussels known for its many Arab immigrants and an area where the radical Salafist ideology has flourished among some young Muslims.

It is not clear when Abaaoud became radicalised. He attended one of Belgium's top secondary schools - Saint-Pierre d'Uccle. He dropped out, or was thrown out, and became involved in petty crime, where he first became known to the authorities.

He was in contact with Mehdi Nemmouche, a jihadist of Franco-Algerian origin, who shot and killed four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May 2014.

Belgian authorities suspect that Abaaoud helped organise and finance a terror cell in Verviers, eastern Belgium. It was broken up in a police raid in January.

An IS propaganda video in 2014 showed Abaaoud in a vehicle that was dragging mutilated bodies behind it. Soon after, Abaaoud recruited his 13-year-old brother to join him in Syria - making him one of IS's youngest recruits.

Abaaoud was also linked to a foiled attack aboard a Thalys express train from Amsterdam to Paris in August 2015. A gunman, Ayoub El-Khazzani, was overpowered by passengers aboard the high-speed train as it travelled through northern France towards Paris. He was also listed as a suspect in a foiled attack in April on a church concert hall in the southern Paris suburb of Villejuif.

French investigators believe that the jihadist killed in a police raid on Wednesday organised last week's Paris attacks which killed at least 129 people.