Paris attack mastermind evaded Athens police raid in January

Abdelhamid AbaaoudThe man who masterminded November’s Islamist attacks in Paris was based in Athens, and last January managed to escape arrest during a joint Greek-Belgian police operation aimed at capturing him. Moroccan-born Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who had lived in Brussels for years, died in a gun battle with French police on November 18, just days after the multiple attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and injured hundreds. It is believed that the perpetrators of the attacks, who were based in Belgium, were guided and directed by Abaaoud. He, however, was not based in Belgium, but in Athens, Greece. It was from there that he directed the Islamist cells, mostly by phone, according to the BBC.

Citing “a Belgian anti-terrorism source” the BBC said on Tuesday that Belgian and Greek authorities were aware of Abaaoud’s general whereabouts and were able to trace some of his phone calls to Islamist militants in Belgium. Eventually, a senior Belgian law enforcement official traveled to Athens to help coordinate a Greek police operation aimed at capturing Abaaoud. By that time, the Moroccan-born militant had been sentenced by a Paris court to 20 years imprisonment in absentia for his role in at least four planned attacks in France —all of which had been foiled by police. Upon capture, Greek authorities planned to extradite Abaaoud to France, where he would serve his sentence. However, the militant was able to get away, though the BBC said that the circumstances of his escape remain unclear. According to the report, an Algerian associate off Abaaoud was arrested during the operation in Athens and was extradited to Belgium.

Abaaoud was not the only Islamic State-linked militant known to have operated in Greece. The two suicide bombers who tried to enter the Stade de France in Paris on November 13 had entered the European Union through the Greek island of Leros, after crossing the Aegean by boat from Turkey. Meanwhile, another of Abaaoud’s associates, Belgian-born Frenchman Salah Abdeslam, whose current whereabouts are unknown, is believed to have traveled by ferry from Italy to Greece in August.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 10 December 2015 | Permalink

9 Responses to Paris attack mastermind evaded Athens police raid in January

  1. For a “specialized intelligence website written by experts” I find it infuriating when experienced journalists use terms like “masterminded” to describe others’ involvement in nauseating acts of terrorism. To do so gives the irreligious thugs and death cult nutters involved some sort of street credibility. Why not say “machinated” or “concocted” or contrived” or simply “led”? I’ll be interested to see if this comment gets published.

  2. intelNews says:

    @Bill Fairclough: It’s a good thing that I’m not a journalist, but rather a mere university professor. Otherwise I guess I would have to hand in my resignation, along with my would-be colleagues in The New York Times and Time magazine, who routinely refer to Osama bin Laden (to take just one example) as “the mastermind of 9/11”. Thanks for setting me straight. [JF]

  3. Peter Wallerberger says:

    Don’t underrate yourself Dr Fitsanakis – a great number of persons rely on your expert opinion – just as much as we also enjoy comment such as Mr Fairclough’s. After all that is what democracy is all about.

  4. intelNews says:

    @Peter Wallerberger: Agreed. I would add, however, that the democratic process is best utilized when the focus is on the issues. Ad hominem attacks that question the expertise of the authors of this site do not contribute to a respectful dialogue. Nor is it helpful to question this website’s tolerance for dialogue by concluding a comment with “I’ll be interested to see if this comment gets published”. Thanks for sharing your view. [JF]

  5. It is reassuring to see democracy at work even though exactly where the focus should be remains debatable. In this instance I was focusing on the unintended aggrandizement of terrorism which sadly happens too often along with the attendant publicity terrorists get for free with it.

    For months now in the UK you couldn’t and still can’t pick up a newspaper or listen to a news programme that isn’t somehow focused on that nauseous gang of thugs who proclaim they are a religious state (or caliphate). Whilst reporting on their disgusting activities is obviously acceptable in a democracy, such reports also give the terrorists the oxygen of publicity too and that helps them recruit.

    Thus, how such news reporting is handled takes on a level of importance not necessarily associated with more normal news reporting. While respecting the expertise of those who run Intel News (otherwise I wouldn’t even bother reading their articles) I would have thought that it is fair game in a democratic society for any reader to raise comments and questions as I did including ones about the writers’ tolerance for dialogue which I might add I have raised/discussed with the likes of the London Times and the Guardian on more than one occasion and they didn’t misinterpret such comments as being unhelpful.

  6. R.R. says:

    I agree with Intelnews that the first comment by Bill Fairclogh is not exactly the best way to start a conversation. It’s dripping with sarcasm to say the least. I read this site every day and find it balanced and objective. It’s one of the few serious sites out there o n the topic of intelligence. Those of us who read it shouldbe supporting this effort, instead of wasting the authors time with pointless comments about the use of a word. My two cents.

  7. Mike Fallon says:

    The term mastermind doesn’t have positive or negative connotations. It describes a cunning plan, no matter if it is positive or negative………….I don’t see the point of the objection in the first message.

  8. Mr Fitsanakis thanks for your excellent analysis.Don’t feed the attention-seekers.

  9. RR may consider all this to centre around pointless comments about the use of a word but every word counts. At least CNN and Sky along with me disagree with him/her in this specific case and believe that the use of the word and OED definition of “Mastermind” have positive connotations particularly when contrasted with say the word “Ringleader”. Maybe others commenting have missed the point about why the White House and Downing Street spent so much time saying that these thugs should be called Daesh, not ISIS. As for those seeking attention the whole point was to stop the wrong sort of attention being paid to terrorism. If my contention has fallen on deaf ears here it certainly hasn’t in Pennsylvania Avenue, Boulevard Leopold III or Downing Street and I would far prefer they concurred with my view than those supporters of Intel News who don’t! Over and out and thank you for at least considering my point.

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