Paris attack ringleaders were on Belgian list
Four of the main suspects in the Islamic State (ISIS) Paris attacks were on a list of radicalized people compiled by Belgium’s intelligence services as early as June this year, officials said on Thursday.
The list of 85 individuals included alleged Paris ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud, brothers Brahim and Salah Abdeslam and newly named suspect Mohamed Abrini, they said.
The list was sent by the intelligence agencies to the local authorities in Molenbeek, a run-down Brussels district dubbed a haven for extremists, they said.
“I confirm that they featured on a list sent in June 2015 by the Threat Analysis Coordination Agency to the mayor of Molenbeek and the local police chief,” a local government source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The list was first drafted after a raid on an Islamist hideout in the eastern town of Verviers in January in which two suspects were killed and a major terror plot involving Abaaoud was foiled.
Those raids followed the bloody attacks in Paris on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a Jewish supermarket which left 17 people murdered.
The latest revelations will raise fresh concerns about Belgium’s handling of a growing Islamic extremist threat, with several major terror plots having roots in the country.
Abaaoud, a Belgian-Moroccan dual national who was killed in a French police raid days after the Paris attacks, is the presumed organizer of the atrocities.
Brahim Abdeslam, a French national living in Belgium, blew himself up outside a cafe in the attacks on November 13 while his brother Salah fled to Belgium shortly after the attacks, sparking a huge manhunt.
Belgian-Moroccan Abrini is the subject of an international European arrest warrant and was seen driving a car with Salah Abdeslam on the eve of the attacks.