Mastermind of Paris attacks died in police raid: prosecutor

'Abaaoud has just been formally identified... as having been killed during the raid'

PARIS: The body of the suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, has been identified among those killed in a police raid, the prosecutor's office said on Thursday.
" Abdelhamid Abaaoud has just been formally identified... as having been killed during the raid" in a northern Paris suburb on Wednesday, the prosecutor said in a statement. (AFP)
French PM welcomes death of 'one of masterminds' of Paris attacks.
What we know about the 'mastermind'
Earlier report: The alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks that killed at least 129 people has been named as the leader of Daesh cell who was sought by police earlier this year and was the target of Wednesday’s police operation north of Paris.
French officials said Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, was instrumental in organising and executing the gun and suicide bomb attacks on Friday night that wrought devastation in central Paris, AFP reported.
Abaaoud, a Belgian of Moroccan origin, was first named by police as a wanted extremist after a gun battle in eastern Belgium in January during a raid on a Daesh cell.
That security operation was believed to have destroyed a cell plotting to assassinate Belgian police officers, with two suspects killed in a fierce gun battle with police during the raid in the eastern town of Verviers. Abaaoud, the group’s suspected leader, spent time fighting alongside Daesh in Syria. He was known to security forces after appearing in a Daesh video, at the wheel of a car transporting mutilated bodies to a mass grave.
He was described as being on the run after the attack and has now been named as a leader in the Paris attacks. KOEN Geens, the Belgian justice minister, said in January: “Last night’s arrests did not succeed in nabbing the right person. We are still actively looking for him and I presume we will succeed.”
Abaaoud was also linked by French officials to the thwarted attacks on a Paris-bound high-speed train in August and a foiled plot to attack a church in Paris in April.
The French newspaper Liberation also linked him to Sid Ahmad Ghlam, a French student charged with murder, attempted murder and terror offences.
Abaaoud regularly attempted to recruit other western fighters to join Daesh militants in Syria — even recruiting his 13-year-old brother, Younus, according to French media.
It is alleged that documents found at his home and in a search of his computer and telephone records suggested Ghlam was in contact with a French speaker in Syria, who had ordered him to carry out an attack on a church.
VTM, a Flemish-language channel, reported that Abaaoud made calls from Greece to the brother of one of two heavily armed suspects killed in Verviers in January.