Safe houses meant to shelter those who coordinated Paris attacks were discovered by Belgian police. A number of attackers were housed in the two apartments and a house in the weeks leading up to the gruesome attacks, said investigators.
Prosecutors investigating the attacks in Paris, which resulted in the death of 130 innocent civilians, announced that Belgian police identified three accommodations that served as safe houses for the attackers, shared Eric Van Der Sypt, a spokesman for the Belgian public prosecutor.
“The investigators were able to identify three premises that have been used by the conspiring perpetrators of the attacks of 13th November 2015.”
Attackers are believed to have planned their assault from these very places. The police managed to piece together the details after a flat in the southern Belgian city of Charleroi contained the fingerprints of Bilal Hadfi and Abdelhamid Abaaoud, reported Business Insider. Another house used by the attackers is believed to be in Auvelais, a small village near the French border, about 55 kilometers (35 miles) south of Brussels.
While Hadif was one of the suicide bombers, Abaaoud, a Belgian citizen of Moroccan origin, is believed to be the ringleader who coordinated the attacks. While Hadfi died immediately after the explosives he was carrying exploded, the anti-terror squad killed Abaaoud in the raids that were conducted a few days after the attacks.
All the three premises were rented for the period of a year. Whoever financed the operation paid the owners in cash to avoid any traceability. Moreover, the tenants gave false identities, confirmed the investigators. While the safe house in the Schaerbeek district of Brussels was rented under the name of Fernando Castillo, the house in Auvelais, a town just east of Charleroi, was booked under the name of Maaroufi Ibrahim, confirmed prosecutors.
Besides the safe houses, investigators believe they have found the vehicles that were used during the Paris attacks. A SEAT Leon hatchback, a commuter car that doesn’t necessarily draw attention, had made numerous stops at the suspected safe houses in Charleroi and Auvelais. Another vehicle, a BMW rented by a suspect, stopped near all three locations, reported International Business Times. Prosecutors believe the hatchback was used to travel small distances and during the attacks, while the BMW was used to commute between the three safe houses.
Besides the two attackers, the rented safe houses also have strong links to Salah Abdeslam, the only participant in the attack still believed to be at large, reported HNGN. Apart from the trio, the Paris attack was executed by four additional terrorists.
According to the New York Times, a thorough search of the safe house in the Brussels district of Schaerbeek yielded bomb-making material; a precision scale; traces of TATP, an explosive used in the suicide vests made for the attacks; waist belts; and “a drawing representing a person wearing a large waist belt.” Interestingly, a large number of mattresses were found at the safe house in Auvelais. However, all three houses didn’t have any weapons.
The raids were silently conducted over the months of November, December, and January on the suspected safe houses, and the evidence collected has proved indispensable to figure out how the attackers had planned and executed the Paris attacks. From the evidence gathered so far, it is clear the Paris attacks were meticulously planned and executed.
All the attackers, believed to be members of the ISIS or Islamic State, had worn suicide vests on the day of the attack. The closely synchronized attacks left 130 dead and injured more than 350 civilians. France has been conducting its internal investigation, and has intensified its offensive against ISIS overseas in Syria.
[Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images]