PARIS—France confirmed the suspected ringleader of last week’s Paris attacks was killed in a police raid Wednesday, and officials said he has been implicated in four of six foiled attacks in the country this year.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said the bullet-riddled body of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian national of Moroccan descent, was found inside an apartment targeted in the seven-hour police raid in Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris. He was identified from fingerprints.
Abaaoud, who was 27 or 28 years old, had been linked to an April attack on a church in Villejuif, in which one person was killed, and to an August attack on a high-speed train that was thwarted by three young Americans.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said France only found out after last week’s attacks that Abaaoud was in Europe.
Paris Assailants, Suspects
Status: Still at large
Name: Salah Abdeslam
Background: French national born in Belgium
Investigation: Considered eighth attacker; believed to be driver of car outside the Bataclan
Name: Abdelhamid Abaaoud
Background: Belgian of Moroccan origin
Investigation: Ringleader of Paris attacks
Name: Ibrahim Abdeslam
Background: French citizen
Investigation: Suicide bomber at cafe on Boulevard Voltaire; brother of Salah Abdeslam
Name: Samy Amimour
Background: Born in Paris
Investigation: One of three suicide bombers at Bataclan concert hall
Name: Bilal Hadfi
Background: Nationality unknown, living in Belgium prior to attacks
Investigation: One of three suicide bombers at soccer stadium
Name: Ismael Omar Mostefai
Background: Chartres, France
Investigation: Suicide bomber at Bataclan concert hall
Name: Ahmad al Muhammad (falsified name)
Background: Unknown; emergency passport said he was from Syria
Investigation: Suicide bomber at soccer stadium; emergency passport found on his body
Investigation: Suicide bomber at soccer stadium; carried falsified Turkish passport
Investigation: Suicide bomber at Bataclan concert hall; has not yet been identified
“It was only on November 16, after the Paris attacks, that an intelligence service outside Europe signaled that he had been aware of his presence in Greece,” he added, saying only the tip came from a country “outside of Europe.”
European Union interior ministers will hold crisis talks in Brussels Friday to discuss security issues raised by the Paris attacks.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Cazeneuve urged EU ministers to act quickly and decisively to develop a plan to fight terrorism, including reiforcing borders and sharing intelligence information.
“Everyone must understand it is urgent that Europe wakes up, organizes itself and defends itself against the terrorist threat,” he said.
At least eight people were arrested in the raid, during which a woman identified as Abaaoud’s cousin died when she detonated her explosives-filled vest. Three police officers were wounded and a police dog was killed.
“A new team of terrorists was neutralized, and all indications are that, given their arms, their organizational structure and their determination, the commandos could have struck” again, Paris Prosector Francois Molins said after Wednesday’s police raid.
The operation took place about 2 kilometers from the football (soccer) stadium attacked last week during a match attended by President Francois Hollande.
State of emergency
French lawmakers voted Thursday to extend state of emergency declared after Friday’s attacks by three months. The National Assembly approved the measure, and the Senate is expected to vote on it Friday.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls said state-of-emergency rules are necessary because of the broad risk of terrorist attacks – including, he said, the possible use of chemical or biological weapons.
Emergency rules allow police officers to carry their weapons while off-duty.
President Francois Hollande said Wednesday the extension includes a provision that enables authorities to close “any association or gathering,” which includes mosques and community groups, where people are “glorifying terrorism” or encouraging people to carry out terrorist acts.
The bill has drawn criticism from rights activists.
Officials said Wednesday that all 129 victims of the attacks last Friday have been identified.
The French airstrikes have destroyed at least 35 Islamic State targets in Syria, French military spokesman Colonel Gilles Jaron said Thursday.
Jaron said French planes dropped about 60 bombs on six sites, and all the targets were Islamic State command centers or training sites. The aim, he said, is to weaken and disorganize the Islamic State group.
The airstrikes began Sunday in response to last week’s deadly attacks in Paris.