Justice

What We Know About the Raid on Suspected Terrorists in Paris

November 18th 2015

By:
Alex Mierjeski

Update--11/19/15 11 a.m. EST: French prosecutors said early on Thursday that the so-called mastermind behind the Paris attacks was killed in a police raid Wednesday morning, bringing some closure to a manhunt for those involved in the massacre. 

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian man with ties to the self-proclaimed Islamic State, had been sought by police in an early morning raid in a northern Paris suburb on Wednesday. Officials also believe Abaaoud's cousin set off a suicide vest she was wearing during the raid. 

French officials said that they did not know Abaaoud, whom they say was behind 4 of 6 thwarted attacks since spring, was living in Europe, the Associated Press reports. Abaaoud was also believed to be behind online recruitment efforts targeted at women to carry out attacks in Spain, Spanish minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said Thursday. 

The announcement follows a seven-hour-long raid in the St.-Denis suburb led to several arrests and at least two deaths, including one woman who detonated a suicide vest. A fire-fight between police and suspects that included gun fire and explosive devices also led to injuries for both suspects and police. A police dog was also killed in the exchange. 

Though there were dozens of arrests made in the raid, which began just after 4 a.m. Paris time, officials could not confirm at the time that the Belgian target was captured. 

"It is currently impossible to give you the identities of the people who were arrested, which are being verified," the city's prosecutor, François Molins, said after the raid, according to the New York Times. "Everything will be done to determine who is who." 

Some media reports citing police sources said that the woman who died in a self-detonated explosion could have been Abaaoud's cousin, but also that Abaaoud himself could not be confirmed to have been in the apartment, located in the city's medieval heart. 

The operation, which included over 100 officers, was carried out after French law enforcement conducted surveillance and wire taps in an attempt to root out the organizers behind a deadly string of attacks in Paris on Friday that left more than 120 dead and over 300 wounded. 

On Wednesday, Sweden raised its terror alert to a four on a five-star scale, and French president François Hollande said that "life must go on," as he committed to take on some 30,000 refugees over the next two years, CBS reported

This post has been updated to include the latest news that Abdelhamid Abaaoud was among those killed in a Wednesday morning police raid, and also that French officials did not know that Abaaoud, whom they say was behind previous terrorist plots, was living in Europe.