Suspected Paris attacks planner 'took ferry to the UK'

AFP | Screen grab of a propaganda video released by the Islamic State (IS) group and featuring Abdelhamid Abaaoud.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Belgian jihadist suspected of planning the November 13 terror attacks in Paris, visited Britain last year despite being wanted by police for terrorism, the Guardian reported on Sunday.


The newspaper said photos of British landmarks were found on Abaaoud's phone after he was killed in a raid in Paris just days after the coordinated gun and bomb attacks in the French capital that killed 130 people.

The Guardian cited no sources and gave no dates for Abaaoud’s trip other than the year. Britain’s interior ministry declined to comment on the subject.

Even before the Paris attacks, Abaaoud was a wanted terrorist and considered a senior member of the Islamic State (IS) group.

He was the subject of an arrest warrant issued by Belgium, which sentenced him in absentia to 20 years in prison in July.

European intelligence services believed him to be the head of an IS unit set up to send European jihadists back to their home countries to carry out terrorist attacks.

His alleged trip to Britain could add to pressure on UK authorities, which are struggling to tighten border controls amid high-profile reports of Britons going to Syria to join the IS group.

Boasted of evading police

According the Guardian report, Abaaoud entered Britain through a ferry port in England's southeast.

The newspaper said he had met several jihadists in London and in Birmingham in central England, but that it was not clear whether the photos on his phone were part of plans for an attack.

The 28-year-old of Moroccan origin had in the past boasted of evading police in Europe, and taunted European authorities from what was assumed to be an IS group base in Syria.

He also bragged about escaping from Europe after Belgian police shot dead two of his fellow jihadists in the eastern town of Verviers as they broke up a cell planning attacks on security personnel last year.

Abaaoud had first appeared on the radar of Belgian security forces after featuring in an IS group video released in 2014, in which he laughed as he drove a car while dragging mutilated bodies behind it.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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