The Islamic State mastermind behind the deadly attacks in Paris last week was killed in a prolonged shootout with French police early Wednesday morning. The New York Times reports that the death of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Belgian militant responsible for planning and orchestrating the attacks in Paris last week, has been confirmed dead by the French police.
His body was riddled with gunfire and mangled beyond recognition by a grenade blast that went off during the deadly shootout with French police, but fingerprint identification has confirmed that the Islamic State militant has been killed.
NEW: Abdel Hamid Abbaoud involved in 4 of the 6 terror plots broken up since spring, French Interior Minister says: https://t.co/TZnmQtzCBi— ABC News (@ABC) November 19, 2015
Still, it remains unclear if he was killed by police or if he took his own life.
“We do not know at this stage whether Abaaoud blew himself up or not,” Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told the New York Times.
The Islamic State militant was one of two people killed during the attack, with eight being taken into custody. The other one, a woman who detonated a suicide vest, was Abaaoud’s cousin, 26-year-old Hasna Aitboulahcen.
A brief exchange with Aitboulahcen was recorded by police during the seven-hour assault, a police officer shouted, “Where is your boyfriend?” referring to Abaaoud.
“He’s not my boyfriend!” she replied before detonating her suicide vest.
The Guardian reports that parts of her spine landed on a nearby police car.
Abdelhamid Abaaoud has a long history with the Islamic State, first fighting for the terrorist group in Syria and bragging on online message boards about evading capture as he traveled between Europe and Syria.
French intelligence has confirmed that Abaaoud was involved in four of six Islamic State-sponsored terror plots planned for Paris, all of which but the attack last Friday were foiled by French authorities.
While it’s a blow to the Islamic State’s operations in Europe, the French government advises caution, as there may still be more Islamic State operatives active in France.
“We now know that Abaaoud, the brain behind these attacks – one of the brains, because we must be particularly cautious, and we know what the threats are – was among the dead,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told the French Parliament today.
It remains unclear how Abaaoud and the Islamic State planned and organized the attacks, as well as whether or not more attacks in Europe are on the way.
Abaaoud was born in Morocco and raised in Belgium, in the impoverished district of Molenbeek, which has in recent years become a hotbed of Islamic State recruitment. Despite the poor neighborhood in which he grew up, Abaaoud enjoyed a life of privilege. He attended a private Catholic school, and his family lived in a spacious home near his father’s clothing store.
Sometime between a stint in jail in 2010 and flying to Syria in 2014, Abaaoud became radicalized and strongly identified with the twisted ideals of the Islamic State. His family was never particularly devout, and this change came as a shock to them, the New York Times reports.
During his time in Syria, he was seen in an Islamic State video laughing and making jokes as he dragged bodies into a mass grave. He also convinced his 13-year-old brother to join him in Syria, to join the Islamic State. Fortunately, though, authorities prevented the potential militant from leaving the country. By then, Abaaoud had become a target for international authorities and a poster child for the Islamic State.
The Islamic State’s attack in Paris left 129 people dead and 350 injured last week, the Inquisitr reports. The attack was one of the most deadly ever orchestrated by the Islamic State outside of Syria and Iraq.
[Photo by Getty Images]