A raid by more than 100 police and soldiers on Wednesday killed the suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks, two senior European intelligence officials told The Washington Post. The fugitive terrorist was hiding north of Paris when the massive force stormed the building following a seven-hour siege that left two dead, including Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the man who ran the Friday massacres.
The force raided an apartment building in the Saint-Denis suburb, where they believe the terrorists were hatching plans for a follow-up attack in the La Defense business district, some 10 miles away. When the attack on the building began, a woman opened fire and then set off a suicide blast.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said at a Wednesday press conference that more than 5,000 rounds were fired in the battle between the terrorists and elite police forces. He said that by now police had found “a total war arsenal” of Kalashnikovs, ammunition and explosives.
Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, was a resident of Brussels, where he attended school in Uccle, a middle-class neighborhood of the Belgian capital. Abaaoud was close to another key suspect, Salah Abdeslam, who is still at large. Abaaoud’s brother, Brahim, who blew himself up in the French capital.
Molins said neither Abaaoud nor Salah had been arrested, but according to anonymous police sources, forensic experts confirmed the identity of Abaaoud as one of the men killed in the raid, after searching through blown-out windows and exploded floors for DNA and other evidence.
More than five hundred Belgian nationals have left to fight for the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which Euronews says means Belgium has contributed more jihadists per capita to ISIS than any other EU member state.
Abaaoud reportedly left Belgium for Syria in early 2014, with his 13-year-old brother. Since then he has appeared in propaganda videos for ISIS.