domingo, 15 de novembro de 2015

Paris attacker slipped into Europe with refugees

Paris attacker slipped into Europe with refugees

Two of eight assailants identified. ISIL group split into three coordinated teams, says Paris prosecutor.

By NICHOLAS VINOCUR 11/14/15, 9:02 PM CET Updated 11/15/15, 9:11 AM CET

PARIS — At least one of the assailants in France’s worst-ever terrorist attack was a Syrian who entered Europe through Greece with a group of migrants, French and Greek authorities said Saturday, deepening fears that other terrorists have infiltrated the European Union this way.

Paris prosecutor François Molins said that the group of eight assailants had split into three teams to carry out a series of closely coordinated suicide bombings and gun attacks on Friday night. The assault, which lasted about 30 minutes, left 129 dead and nearly 100 injured in serious condition.

The carefully organized nature of the attack broke a recent pattern of relatively unambitious, “lone-wolf” operations and led investigators to believe that the group had been backed up by accomplices in France and Belgium, some of whom may yet have to be apprehended.

Several witnesses at Paris’ Bataclan concert hall, where the worst killing took place, described the attackers there as young men of Middle Eastern appearance who communicated in French and handled their weapons confidently.

Of the eight attackers, Molins said only two had been formally identified as of Saturday evening: one Frenchman who was known to security services; and the Syrian, whose passport was found near the scene of a suicide bombing near an entrance to the Stade de France stadium.

The Frenchman was later identified as Omar Ismail Mostefai, a 29-year-old Paris native of Algerian origin whose severed finger was found at the Bataclan.

Mostefai was said to have a series of convictions for petty crimes, but had not been to jail.

“I cannot be more precise for now,” Molins said during a press conference in Paris, adding that he did not want to divulge further information that could disrupt ongoing raids to arrest suspects in Belgium. Police in Brussels raided the northern neighborhood of Molenbeek, which has a large Muslim population, arresting three people.

Police in Paris found a rental car with Belgian plates that was allegedly used by the attackers parked near the Bataclan.

While most details of the terrorists’ identities and motivations remained unknown, an emerging picture underscored one of European authorities’ worst fears — that militants affiliated to the ISIL terrorist group could have slipped into the vast crowds flooding into Europe to flee war and hardship in Syria.

A Greek minister said that the Syrian, aged 25, had arrived early last month on the island of Leros in a group of nearly 70 refugees. All had been checked, fingerprinted and registered in a new European statement. Security officials were investigating the whereabouts of 10 other people who had arrived in Greece, according to Mega TV.

In several attacks over the past 18 months, including a shooting at a Jewish museum in Brussels, suspects have been linked to ISIL, either having fought with the group in Iraq and Syria or claiming allegiance to them and receiving instructions from afar.

Helen Popper in Athens contributed reporting to this article.


Nicholas Vinocur  

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