Months before the deadly Paris terrorist attacks Friday, French security officials received not one warning, but two about 29-year-old Omar Ismail Mostefai, who was identified as one of the gunmen in the Bataclan music theater Friday night who took part in gunning down more 89 people at a rock concert there.
Information that Mostefai should be considered a “terror suspect,” an official in Turkey told The New York Times Monday, was conveyed to French authorities first in December of 2014, and then again in June of 2015 — five months before the bloody November 13 attacks in Paris — but France ignored the warnings.
The Turkish official told the times they never heard back from Paris about Mostefai until the attacks, when the native French citizen was identified by the fingerprint on one of his severed fingers, which was matched to prints taken from the small-time crook turned Islamic radical from an earlier motor vehicle violation.
Mostefai entered Turkey through the country’s northwest province of Edirne, which borders on both Greece and Bulgaria, the Turkish officials said, according to a report on the Saudi Arabia news site Riyadh Vision.
“This is not a time to play the blame game, but we are compelled to share the information to shed light on Omar Ismail Mostefai’s travel history,” another Turkish official, speaking anonymously, told the news site Mashable, which followed up on the Times story.
“The case of Omar Ismail Mostefai clearly establishes that intelligence sharing and effective communication are crucial to counter-terrorism efforts,” the official told Mashable. “The Turkish government expects closer cooperation from its allies in the future.”
The information about Mostefai could in theory have been used to develop further intelligence on the terrorist which could have led to advance warning of the attacks that were to devastate Paris on the evening of Friday the 13th.
But officials in Iraq also say they sent warnings of an imminent terrorist strike just one day before the attacks in Paris.
A French official, however, dismissed the apparent advance warning, telling the Associated Press that France receives similar information “all the time.”
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According to the Iraqi officials, their warnings contained specific details —including information that the Paris attacks were planned in the central command of terror group ISIS at the organization’s headquarters in Raqqa, Syria, the city that has become in effect the capital of the so-called “Islamic State” which ISIS has claimed to have established in Syria and Iraq.
Reports in French and British media have said that Mostefai traveled to Turkey in October of 2013 and entered Syria from there the followng year. But the officials in Turkey said they had no record of Mostefai crossing the border into Syria.
— ARY News (@ARYNEWSOFFICIAL) November 15, 2015
Mostefai was born to Algerian parents in France on November 21, 1985 and grew up in the working-class Paris suburb of Courcourronnes where he became involved in minor crimes, with eight arrests on his record. But he spent no time in prison and none of his earlier crimes were linked to Islamic radical or terrorist activity.
A video profile of Omar Ismail Mostefai, from the English-language French news channel France 24 can be viewed above, on this page.
The French satellite TV channel BFM TV on Monday uncovered a French rap music video reportedly made in 2009 — a video in which a younger Omar Mostefai appears.
The BFM TV report about the finding appears in the video below.
Mostefai, according to interviews in the media with former acquaintances and neighbors, ceased his petty criminal activities sometime around 2009 — around the same time he became deeply interested in the Islamic religion. Acquaintances of Paris attacks terrorist Omar Ismail Mostefai say that they tried to provide French law enforcement with a warning about his extremist views as well, but were also ignored.
[Featured Photo By Amir Nail / Associated Press]