INTERNATIONAL

‘Mastermind’ is dead, but several questions remain

he 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 IS is planning additional assaults outside its stronghold in Syria and Iraq; and the identities of two other attackers.

Search for suspects

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.

New security measures

In Belgium, PM Michel announced new security measures to strengthen the fight against terrorism, and called for closer global 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.



— New York Times News Service



The risk before us is the collapse of the entire European project if we don’t take our responsibilities— Charles Michel,Belgian Prime Minister





French PM Manuel Valls says jihadists returning from Iraq or Syria would not be allowed and their place is in prison



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