The Islamic State jihadist suspected of masterminding the > Paris attacks was killed in a major police raid, prosecutors confirmed on Thursday, as French lawmakers voted to extend the state of emergency imposed after the carnage.
Abdelhamid Abaaoud was killed in Wednesday’s assault by elite police units on an apartment in northern Paris, which left at least two people dead. “Abdelhamid Abaaoud has just been formally identified... as having been killed during the raid,” the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
The decision by lawmakers means the state of emergency will be in place for three months from November 26. The measures include allowing the police to carry weapons when they are off duty and use them in the event of an attack, provided they wear a police armband to avoid “any confusion,” according to a directive seen by AFP. The MPs also voted to allow the government to block websites under the state of emergency.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls has warned that France could face a chemical or biological attack.
Questions still remain
The death of Abdelhamid Abaaoud,the alleged ringleader of last week’s Paris terror attack that killed 129 people ended one chapter of the intense criminal investigation that began on Friday night.
But many questions remained unanswered: How Abbaoud planned and organised the attacks; whether the Islamic State is planning additional assaults outside its stronghold in Syria and Iraq; and the identities of at least two other attackers. Also on Thursday, the Belgian police conducted their own sweep in Brussels in relation to Bilal Hadfi, one of the dead Paris attackers.A spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor said the houses of Hadfi’s friends and relatives were being searched. One person has been detained for questioning.
The latest search for suspects came as the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, said an attack using “chemical or biological weapons” in France could not be ruled out, and the Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, asked Parliament to approve a variety of strict new security measures.
Separately, the White House said President Barack Obama would not abandon plans to attend climate change talks in Paris at the end of the month despite security concerns in the city. The Paris prefecture has extended a ban on protests in the Paris area until Sunday. At least some of the Belgian raids were being conducted in Molenbeek, the Brussels district that has emerged as a crucial link in the investigation of the attacks.
Molenbeek was the base for > Abaaoud, the Belgian who is believed to have organised the attacks, and two Abdeslam brothers: Salah, who is still at large, and Ibrahim, who died after he detonated a suicide bomb at a cafe on Friday.
Abaaoud was the focus of a raid on Wednesday in St.-Denis, a suburb on the northern edge of Paris that ended with eight people in custody. Mr. Valls, in a speech at the French National Assembly, warned that “we must not rule anything out” when considering the possibility that terrorists might use chemical weapons,although he did not provide any evidence to suggest that such an attack was in the works. Mr. Valls also called for reinforced tracking of movements of people within the European Union and urged European countries to improve the sharing of airline passenger information.
Among some long-term measures, Mr. Valls announced the creation of a “structure for radicalised youths” that would accommodate those who say they have abandoned extremist views.
Admission to the programme would be contingent on a judicial review, Mr. Valls said, and jihadists returning from Iraq or Syria would not be allowed. “Their place is in prison.”
On Wednesday, President François Hollande announced at a gathering of French mayors that local police forces that requested them would be provided with weapons and bulletproof jackets, taken from the stocks of the national police. In Belgium, Prime Minister Charles Michel announced new security measures intended to strengthen the fight against terrorism, and called for closer international cooperation to combat terrorism and the Islamic State by strengthening Europe’s external borders and by working together at the UN. He asked Parliament to double the budget for state security in fighting terrorism, adding €400 million, and to extend the maximum detention time without charges in suspected terrorism cases to 72 hours from 24. He also called on lawmakers to give the government the authority to shut down mosques that preach hate speech.
It will also extend the use of investigative methods for terrorism cases, like wiretapping and raids on private homes, to other crimes, in particular arms trafficking, a new priority. — New York Times News Service
>Major attacks by IS
- ›Jan. 7, 2015 - Masked gunmen stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper, killing 12 people.
- ›Sept 24, 2015 - At least 25 people were killed when two bombs went off outside a mosque during prayers to commemorate Eid al-Adha
- ›Nov. 13, 2015 - Twin suicide bombings struck a southern Beirut suburb that’s a stronghold of the militant Shia Hezbollah group, killing at least 43 people
- ›Aug 6, 2015 - A suicide bomb went off at a mosque in Abha city in south-west Saudi Arabiakilling at least 15 people, including 12 members of a Saudi police force.
- ›July 20, 2015 - An explosion outside a cultural centre in the Turkish town of Suruc near the border with Syria killed at least 28 people
- ›March 18, 2015 - Gunmen wearing military uniforms stormed Tunisia's national museum, killing at lease 38 people
- ›June 20, 2015 - Islamic State claimed responsibility for car bombs which killed at least 50 people near Sana’a mosques and the headquarters of the Huthis