FACTBOX-The hunt for the Paris attackers

by Reuters
Thursday, 26 November 2015 11:46 GMT

Nov 26 (Reuters) - France and Belgium are hunting suspects and would-be attackers following the shootings and bombings in Paris on Nov. 13 that killed 130 people and injured hundreds.

Eight attackers are dead though the total number of assailants may have been 10 or higher. Investigations are centred on Salah Abdeslam who police think might be an assailant referred to in statement in which militant group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Here is what we know about the suspects and the wider circle pursued by police as attention focuses on the Belgian warning that there is a "serious and imminent" danger in Brussels.

KEY EVENTS: Nov 13: France. Seven assailants dead: three at the Bataclan concert hall, three outside the Stade de France stadium and one of three gunmen involved in the cafe killings. Nov 18: France. Three people died and eight were arrested in a police assault on a hideout flat in St. Denis. One of the three is identified as suspected ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian of Moroccan origin who also played a direct role in the cafe shootings, prosecutor Francois Molins said. Nov 21 onwards: Belgium reports serious and imminent danger of Paris-style attacks, deploying soldiers on the streets of Brussels and conducting police searches for would-be attackers and suspects with links to the Paris attacks.


Salah Abdeslam, 26, French, born in Brussels (Sept. 15, 1989). Suspected of having rented the VW Polo and Renault Clio cars used in the attacks. Investigators say he went to Belgium from France the day after the attacks in a VW Golf, despite being stopped by French police along the way in routine road checks, before his name was circulated as a suspect.

His brother, Brahim, died in the attack (below). A third brother, cleared of any involvement after briefly being detained, said Salah may have had a change of heart in Paris.

However, fears that Salah is back in Belgium and/or plotting attacks prompted closure of Brussels underground rail lines, schools, shopping centres and other public places on Nov. 20 - a protective shutdown that was partially lifted as of Nov. 25.

French police are examining a suicide belt dumped in Montrouge on the southwestern fringes of Paris, where phone traces suggested Salah was present on the night of Nov. 13.

Investigators are trying to establish whether Salah Abdeslam had been meant to carry out an attack in Paris's 18th district but for some reason did not, prosecutor Molins said.

In its statement, Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack in the 18th district that did not happen.

Mohamed Abrini, 30, Belgian of Moroccan origin, seen by police on video footage with Salah at a car fuelling station in Ressons, a town north of Paris near the motorway linking Belgium to the French capital, on Nov. 11, two days before the attacks. The Renault Clio the two were seen in was one of the cars used in the attacks. A Belgian police notice describes Abrini, who fought in Syria and came from the same Brussels area as the Abdeslam brothers and Abdelhamid Abaaoud, as "dangerous and probably armed".


Bataclan: (3 dead gunmen with suicide vests, two named) Ismail Omar Mostefai, 29 (born Nov. 21, 1985), Frenchman of Algerian descent involved in the Bataclan attack, lived for a time in Chartres area, southwest of Paris. Born in Courcouronnes, south of Paris. Source: prosecutor's office/judiciary sources. His name was put on French intelligence services' "S notice" in 2010 for reported radicalisation. An unnamed senior Turkish government official says Turkey contacted France about Mostefai in December 2014 and June 2015 but only got a return request for information on him after the Paris attacks..

Samy Amimour, 28 (born Oct. 15, 1987), involved in the Bataclan attack. French, from Drancy near St. Denis. Subject of international arrest warrant since late 2013. Had been under official investigation since October 2012 on suspicion of terrorism-related activity over a plan to go to Yemen. Source: Paris prosecutor's office statement. Amimour, a bus driver who had been radicalised in a mosque near Drancy, was ordered by police to check in with them every week but missed four checks in 2013. It was only after nearly a month that the authorities put out an international arrest warrant for him but he was already in Syria. Other: A third attacker in the Bataclan attack was shot dead by police. No further identity information has been provided.

Cafe killings: (3 gunmen, 2 identified) Brahim Abdeslam, 31 (born July 30, 1984), French citizen but born and raised in Brussels, where he ran a bar in the Molenbeek district with brother Salah. Blew himself up at the Comptoir Voltaire cafe in wake of the shootings. His fingerprints were on one of the AK47 rifles left in a Seat Leon used in the attacks.

Presumed ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 28, grew up in the Molenbeek district of Brussels, but vanished in 2013 and showed up in Syria where he was one of Islamic States most high-profile European recruits. Local media say he was jailed for robbery in 2010 and spent time in prison alongside Salah Abdeslam. Before the attacks, European governments believed Abaaoud was still in Syria, having been in Belgium in January plotting attacks that were foiled when police raided a house in Verviers, killing two Belgian associates.

Prosecutor Molins confirmed on Nov. 24 that Abaaoud both took part in the cafe shootings and returned to the killing scenes while the Bataclan attack was still underway on the night of Nov. 13. He also said Abaaoud and another man were believed to be preparing a suicide bomb attack on the La Defense business district in the west of Paris on Nov. 18 or 19.

Closed circuit TV footage showed Abaaoud entering the Croix de Chavaux metro railway station in eastern Paris with another man on Nov. 13, a couple of hundred metres from where the Seat Leon used in the cafe shootings was found. His fingerprints were found on one of three AK47 assault rifles left in the car. Other: a third gunman who took part in the cafe shootings has not been identified. Investigators say the DNA of a person who blew himself up during a police raid on Nov. 18 in St. Denis matches traces found on one of the AK47 rifles in the abandoned Seat and that may mean he is the third person who took part in the cafe shootings. Stade de France: (3 dead suicide bombers who used vests containing bolts, 1 named) Bilal Hadfi, 20 (born Jan 22, 1995). Blew himself up in the Nov. 13 attack on Stade de France stadium. He dropped out of school in Brussels in February 2014 to travel to Syria. Believing he was back, police bugged his apartment but he did not show up. Other: A man blew himself up outside Gate D at the Stade de France. A passport found near his dead body has the name of Ahmad Al Mohammad, 25, (born Sept. 10, 1990), from Idlib, northwest Syria. His fingerprints match up with prints of a person registered under that name as arriving in Greece in Oct. 3, 2015. Source: French prosecutor's office. It has not been confirmed that the bomber is the man in the passport. Other: The fingerprints of a third man who blew himself up outside Gate H of the Stade de France show that he passed through Greece at the same time as the other unidentified stadium suicide bomber, prosecutors say. Police have published a photo in an appeal for help to identify the man.


Hasna Aitboulahcen: woman, 26, who suffocated under rubble in the Nov. 18 police assault in St. Denis, said prosecutor Francois Molins. Police were tapping her phone as part of a drugs probe and watched her lead Abaaoud back to the apartment before the raid. Abaaoud and another man apparently called her in haste on Nov. 17 from where they were hiding in bushes to find them a hideout.

Other: The third person who died in Nov. 18 St. Denis assault may have been the third gunmen involved in the cafe shootings but this has yet to be confirmed.


In France: Jawad Bendaoud, one of eight arrested in St. Denis swoop, who provided lodgings for Abaaoud. Jawad told French TV as he was being led away to custody on Nov. 18 that he was unaware he had helped suspected terrorists.

Prosecutor Molins said Bendaoud was in contact before and after the attacks with a person using a Belgian phone who was in turn in phone contact with the attackers.

The other seven arrested, five of whom are thought to be illegal squatters who had taken refuge in the same building, according to police sources, were released after questioning.

In a sweep facilitated by state of emergency rules, police said since Nov. 13 they had conducted 1,233 searches of homes of people suspected of Islamist links (not directly related to attacks), taking 124 into custody. They had confiscated 230 weapons, according to the Interior Ministry as of Nov. 24.

In Turkey: Ahmet Dahmani, a Belgian man of Moroccan origin suspected of some form of involvement in the Paris attack was arrested by police in Turkey on Nov. 21, a government official said. A Turkish news agency said he acted as a 'scout' in selecting target locations. Dahmani, 26, was arrested at a luxury hotel in the southern Turkish coastal city of Antalya after travelling from Amsterdam on Nov. 14. Two suspected accomplices were also arrested, the official said.

In Belgium: Five have been detained on suspicion of terrorist-related so far after dozens of arrests.

Mohammad Amri, 27, and Hamza Attouh, 21, went to Paris by car shortly after the attacks to fetch Salah Abdeslam and bring him back to Belgium on Nov. 14.

Lazez Abraimi, 39, Moroccan living in western Brussels. His lawyers say he admits taking Salah somewhere in Brussels in his car but knows nothing else. Abraimi's brother is in Syria but he himself is not a radical. He deals in bric-a-brac, hence the two handguns in his car, one of which was a signal pistol. The blood in his car is not that of Salah, his lawyer says.

Ali O., 31, a Frenchman living in Molenbeek, Brussels, is accused of driving Salah in Brussels on Nov. 14.

Fifth person, no information so far.

Regarding Amri and Attouh, lawyer Xavier Carette said his client Amri was an unwitting accomplice who knew nothing about any role in attacks when he drove Salah Abdeslam back from Paris to Brussels on night of Nov. 13-14. A lawyer for Attouh quoted him as saying that Abdeslam was "extremely tense" and may have still been wearing a suicide belt under his down jacket.

Mohammad Abdeslam, brother of Salah and dead Brahim, was among five released after arrests on Nov. 19. (Compiled by Brian Love with reporters in Paris and Brussels; editing by David Clarke)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.