Paris Attacks: Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud Is reportedly mastermi - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Paris Attacks: Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud Is reportedly mastermind

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Abdelhamid Abaaoud Abdelhamid Abaaoud
PARIS -

Reports are naming Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud, one of the most active ISIS operators in Syria, as the suspected mastermind behind the attacks in Paris. 

"He appears to be the brains behind several planned attacks in Europe," a source told Reuters, adding that the 27-year-old was investigators' best lead as the person likely behind the killing of at least 129 people in Paris on Friday. NBC News could not independently confirm the reports. A French official with direct knowledge of the investigation but who was not authorized to be publicly identified as speaking about the probe also told The Associated Press that Abaaoud was the likely mastermind.

"Those are rumors, it's not confirmed at all and we won't comment on this," Brussels prosecutor Eric Van Der Sypt told Reuters when asked about Abaaoud.

Abaaoud is also said to be linked to the thwarted attacks on a Paris-bound high speed train and a church near the French capital earlier this year. 

Abaaoud's parents are Moroccan immigrants, and reports say he is so devoted to the cause of holy war that he recruited his 13-year-old brother to join him in Syria. In February, ISIS propaganda magazine Dabiq carried an interview with Abaaoud who claimed to have secretly returned to Belgium to lead a terror cell before escaping to Syria in the aftermath of the raid despite having his picture broadcast across the news.

"I was even stopped by an officer who contemplated me so as to compare me to the picture, but he let me go, as he did not see the resemblance! This was nothing but a gift from Allah," he said.

In the same interview, he described Belgium as "a member of the crusader coalition attacking the Muslims of Iraq and [Syria]."

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