Jacques Brinon / AP Photo

Officials: Third Bataclan attacker identified

A Frenchman who spent time Syria has been ID’d as third attacker at Bataclan venue, scene of worst Paris carnage

The third attacker who terrorized concertgoers at the Bataclan hall in Paris before being killed there has been identified as a Frenchman who left for Syria in 2013, two French officials said Wednesday, heightening fears of what increasingly appears to be an entirely homegrown European plot.

Foued Mohamed-Aggad left Strasbourg for Syria in late 2013, a French judicial official said, at a time when a group of about a dozen young men from the eastern city left for the war zone. Some returned of their own will — including his brother — telling investigators they were disgusted by what they had seen. The Frenchman believed to have recruited them, Mourad Fares, is also under arrest. All are charged with terror-related offenses and face trial.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to provide details of the ongoing investigation.

"What is important is that the investigation is progressing, that the accomplices are found out, that arrests happen," said French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Wednesday.

"This will all take time and in the face of the terrorist threat that is unfortunately here, we need to carry on with this work of tracking down terrorists because we are at war with radical Islam, with Daesh," he said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State in Iran and the Levant (ISIL), which claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The latest information means that all the attackers identified so far were French or Belgian, all native French speakers.

In all, 130 people died in the Nov. 13 attacks on Paris. Th worst of the carnage was at the Bataclan which was packed with fans of Eagles of Death Metal, a California-based rock group touring Europe.  About 80 of the dead were found at the venue.

All three Bataclan attackers were killed, two by detonating suicide vests and one who was shot by police. All the band members survived what was just one of a coordinated string of suicide bombings and shootings across Paris.

The violence, which occurred 11 months after gunmen linked to Al-Qaeda carried out a deadly attack on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, was one of the worst atrocities to strike the French capital in recent memory.

The recent Paris attacks continue to reverberate, increasing Islamophobia and prompting many European governments to discuss their approach to resettling refugees fleeing Syria, Iraq and Libya. And the Paris attacks, along with last week’s terror-linked mass shooting in California, may have altered the U.S. presidential campaign, most recently with Republican 2016 hopeful Donald Trump calling for a “complete shutdown” on Muslims entering the United States, a sentiment that was widely repudiated.

The other two attackers at the Bataclan, among seven in all who died in the assaults around Paris, have been named as Samy Amimour, 28, from Drancy, north east ofParis, and Ismail Omar Mostefai, 29, who lived in Chartres, south west of Paris.

Amimour also spent time in Syria, as did the presumed ringleader of the Nov. 13 attackers, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 28, a Belgian of Moroccan origin who was killed the following week in a police raid near Paris.

Another attacker, Salah Abdeslam, 26, French and born in Brussels, is still on the run.

The men who stormed the Bataclan fired assault rifles inside the venue, which was packed to capacity with about 1,500 people. 

As that attack unfolded inside the concert hall, gunmen shot at least a dozen diners at a Cambodian restaurant nearby, and two deadly explosions hit at the Stade de France, where the French and German soccer teams were facing off. 

ISIL has claimed responsibility for the assaults, issuing a statement the day after the attacks that said its fighters, armed with suicide-bomb vests and machine guns, carried out the attacks at locations that had been carefully studied. The attacks were designed to show France that it would remain a top target for the group as long as it continues its current polices, the statement continued. 

There is still identification work for the police to do. One of the attackers, who was killed Nov. 18 in a police raid on a hideout, remains entirely unidentified. Two of the suicide bombers at the French national stadium carried Syrian passports that are believed to be fake.

Al Jazeera with wire services


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