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Paris attacks organiser Abaaoud boasted of atrocities

Screengrab of Abdelhamid Abaaoud from a propaganda video

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the coordinator of the deadly Paris attacks who was killed Wednesday during a police raid in the Saint Denis suburb of the capital, was a wanted man well before last Friday’s Paris attacks.

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His bullet-ridden body was found under the rubble in the ruins of his last hideout in Saint Denis, a stone’s throw from the Stade de France stadium where three of his accomplices blew themselves up as part of last Friday’s bloody attacks that claimed 129 lives.

Abaaoud, such an ardent jihadist that he recruited his 13-year-old brother to join him in Syria, was the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by Belgium and the top priority of every counter-terrorism agency in Europe.

Known by his nom de guerre Abou Omar al-Baljiki [Arabic for “from Belgium”], Abaaoud was born in Brussels suburb Molenbeek in 1987, where several police raids took place on Monday, November 16 in the wake of the Paris attacks.

According to David Thompson, journalist at Radio France International (RFI) in Paris, Abaaoud also made contact in Syria with Mehdi Nemmouche, the man responsible for the attack on the Jewish museum in Brussels on May 24, 2014.

He is also strongly suspected of having been the organiser of a network of jihadists that was broken up on January 15, 2015 in Verviers, Belgium, and is believed to have been involved in the thwarted attack on a Thalys train in August 2015.

According to the Belgian press, Abaaoud was in Greece at the time of the Verviers raids, and was in close contact with his accomplices in Belgium.

"Attacks on crusaders"

In February he told the Dabiq magazine, which is affiliated with the Islamic State group in Syria, that he had “planned attacks” and had managed to “secure weapons in Belgium in order to launch attacks on crusaders”.

“I managed to get to Syria despite the best efforts of [Greek and Belgian] intelligence services,” he told the magazine.

In Syria, Abaaoud made a chilling video bragging about the atrocities he planned to commit, grinning as he drove a vehicle dragging mutilated corpses towards a mass grave.

In the video, Abaaoud tells the camera: "Before we towed jet skis, motorcycles, quad bikes, big trailers filled with gifts for vacations in Morocco. Now, thank God, following God's path, we're towing apostates, infidels who are fighting us.

“It isn’t just for the joy of killing,” he said in the video. “Even if it is a pleasure from time to time to see the blood of unbelievers flow.”

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve admitted Thursday that his presence in Europe before the attacks was a failure of European intelligence, insisting that Europe “must wake up” to the presence of terrorists on its soil and move quickly to secure the bloc’s borders.

It was also revealed on Friday that it was a tip-off from Morocco that led French security services to the Saint Denis apartment where Abaaoud was killed.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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