First attacker identified in Paris carnage designed by IS

RSTV Bureau
LONDON:  People, many of whom are French, hold up their lit phones as they take part in a vigil in solidarity with France after the deadly attacks in Paris, in Trafalgar Square, London, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. French President Francois Hollande said more than 120 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France's national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall.

LONDON: People, many of whom are French, hold up their lit phones as they take part in a vigil in solidarity with France after the deadly attacks in Paris, in Trafalgar Square, London, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015.

The deadly attacks in Paris that killed 129 people, wounded hundreds and left the whole of Europe intensely shocked is claimed by the Islamic State group. In a statement posted online on Saturday the IS claimed responsibility for the attacks and referred to French air strikes on IS in Syria.

Following the attacks on Friday, one of the seven gunmen of this first ever suicide bombings on the French soil has been identified. The attacker is recognised as Omar Ismail Mostefai, a 29-year-old Paris native born in the poor suburbs of Courcouronnes who had a record of petty crime and was known as being close to radical Islamabad.

The attacker is identified from fingerprints found on a severed finger amid the bloody carnage in the Bataclan concert hall, the Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said. A judicial official and lawmaker Jean-Pierre Gorges confirmed his identity.

Police detained his father, brother and other relatives on Saturday night, they are being questioned under condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. The investigators are now searching the homes of other friends and relatives of the alleged attacker.

The identified gunman is one of four brothers and two sisters. He had eight convictions for petty crimes but had never been imprisoned. He was flagged in 2010 for ties to Islamic radicalism, but had never been linked to terrorism.

Though the first identified attacker was a French national, the tentacles of the investigation reach well beyond France. Investigators in France, Belgium, Greece and Germany are now trying to find out who these men were, how they carried out such a vast coordinated attack, and why.

The French Police claimed the attackers appeared to be “seasoned, at first sight, and well trained” and were investigating whether they had ever been to fight in Syria, where IS has proclaimed a caliphate along with territory in neighbouring Iraq. The Paris prosecutor reported that the attackers mentioned Syria and Iraq.

A Syrian passport found next to the body of a man who attacked France’s national stadium appeared to suggest he passed through Greece into the European Union last month. Officials in Greece clarified that the passport’s owner entered Greece early in October through Leros, one of the eastern Aegean islands that tens of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty have been using as a gateway into Europe.

Meanwhile, Belgian police have arrested several people over links to the Paris attacks, including one who was in the French capital at the time of the attacks. The arrests took place in the poor Brussels district of Molenbeek that has been linked to several other terror plots in Europe. Paris prosecutor separately said one of the vehicles used in Friday’s attacks was registered in Belgium and hired by a French national living there.

Police in Belgium, which has the highest number of citizens per-capita who have gone to fight for IS in Europe, have opened a formal terrorism investigation.

Notably, the seven attackers — six blew themselves up and one was shot by police — are the first to ever carry out suicide bombings on French soil and, unlike those who killed 17 in Paris in January, were unknown to security services