A Year After the Thalys Attack And Still No Answers on Ayoub El Khazzani

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I was in the bookstore the other day and noticed a new book on the shelves of the Current Affairs section titled, “The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes” by Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, and Jeffrey E. Stern.  I pulled it off with interest because I had recently been doing my own research on Ayoub El Khazzani, the perpetrator of the attack and hoped to pick up some new information.  Sadly, there didn’t seem to be anything new in the book on that front, but it’s probably a good a time as any to lay out to you what I have found. Continue reading

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The Man from Malmö

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Naim al-Hamed first came to the attention of the general public on Friday, March 25 as the 28-year-old Syrian from Hama named as a suspect in Brussels bombings.  According to a report in Le Monde on Saturday, his DNA was found in the rue Max Roos apartment used by the known perpetrators of the attacks.  He arrived in Europe on September 20, 2015, with Mounir Ahmed Alaaj, aka Amine Choukri, aka Sofiane Ayari, the man who had fled the rue du Dries apartment with Abdeslam and was later caught with him at Abdeslam’s aunt’s apartment.  Al-Hamed and Ayari had confirmed contact with Abdeslam in Ulm, Germany, on the night 2-3 October 2015. Continue reading

The “Man in the White Hat” is Abrini!—Or So He Says

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Friday was a busy day for Belgian law enforcement with multiple operations resulting in the arrest of the last remaining publically-revealed fugitive from the Paris attacks, Mohamed Abrini.  In addition, a recently revealed suspect, Osama Krayem (sometimes seen as Oussama Kraiem), known until now as Naim al-Hamed, was also captured.  In all, six individuals were arrested, the others being Hervé B.M., Bilal El Makhoukhi, and two possibly unrelated individuals named Assia B. and Chaouki A.  The last two may have been swept up inadvertently for being close to the operations and acting in a manner suspicious to police.  Politico early on named another individual as Abu Amrid, but nothing further was ever reported on that, and I would take it with a grain of salt as this topic is not their bread-and-butter. Continue reading

A Flurry of Activity Around Europe

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Due to other requirements on my time, I was forced to sit back for a few days and watch as things unfolded in the aftermath of the Brussels bombings.  Thankfully, this was so, because we’ve seen raid upon raid and arrest after arrest since late last week with little clarity added to the picture since then.  All that seems to be apparent is that the situation is far more complex and worrisome than authorities have either believed or made known to the public before now. Continue reading

The Perpetrators of the Belgian Bombings and Some Burning Questions

Here are the facts as they currently stand with respect to perpetrators of Tuesday’s attacks, and they are somewhat surprising if you’ve been paying attention.  At least four people were involved—three according to CCTV footage from Zaventem airport, and one at the metro station at Maelbeek.  Authorities have confirmed the identity of one of the bombers at the airport and the one who bombed the metro station.  They are the El Bakraoui brothers who the media had briefly speculated were the two individuals who had fled the raid in Forest, which kicked off the whole chain of events with respect to Salah Abdeslam’s capture and this week’s attack. Continue reading

The Capture of Salah Abdeslam

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As John Adams once said, “Facts are stubborn things.”  In the case of the Paris attacks, the facts are stubbornly hard to come by.  In the fast-moving events of the past few days, news outlets with “sources close to the investigation” have provided us with facts that have quickly turned out to be rumors, leaving us with more questions.  Some of this can be laid at the feet of the desire to be the first to break the news, but some of it can be attributed to the Islamic State’s ability to disguise and deceive.  We know who Salah Abdeslam is.  Some of the operatives he and Abaaoud brought into Europe we don’t seem to really know anything about. Continue reading

A Few More Details Emerge on Dahmani

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Dahmani under arrest in Antalya

The last few days have brought some new pieces of information about a presumed accomplice of the Paris attackers who has been under arrest in Turkey since November 16, Ahmed Dahmani.  I referenced him in a previous article about his former boxing mate and Abdeslam associate, Ayoub Bazarouj.  Dahmani, 26, flew out of Amsterdam the day following the Paris attacks to Turkey, where he was eventually arrested by authorities in Antalya at a five-star hotel where he was meeting with Syrian-national ISIS operatives, Ahmet Tahir and Mohammed Verd.  He was supposedly in the process of being ferried into Islamic State territory by the two. Continue reading

Tracking Down the Conductors

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Bouzid and Kayal at Western Union

On December 30, Le Monde went to press with a story revealing that the Paris attacks had been coordinated from Belgium in real time, based on their reading of over 6000 records related to the investigation.  The public had thus far been under the impression that Abdelhamid Abaaoud had been running the show, but the information showed that somebody in Belgium had coordinated the three teams, which Abaaoud could not have done as the driver for the attacks on the cafés.  By January 6, La Libre Belgique reported that the coordinators in Belgium were the mysterious Soufiane Kayal and Samir Bouzid.  No information was given as to how this was determined. Continue reading

A Family Affair

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Ayoub Bazarouj

In the spate of raids and arrests following the Friday the 13th attacks in Paris, authorities focused intensely on the Brussels district of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean (Sint-Jans-Molenbeek), with one house receiving special scrutiny.  Police conducted an operation at 47 rue Delaunoy on November 16 beginning at 10:15 in the morning and continuing for over 4 hours.  The reported target was fugitive Salah Abdeslam, but he was not discovered.  One person was brought in according to reports, but authorities stated that it was for administrative purposes and no information was given about who lived at that location [Note: I subsequently discovered an article from LaCapitale.be about a raid on the home of Mohamed Bazarouj, friend of the Abdeslam brothers, on the rue Delaunoy dated November 17]. Continue reading

The “Proprietor of ISIS” and the School Of Delinquency

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The raid in St. Denis that killed Abdelhamid Abaaoud and his “party-girl” cousin Hasna Aït Boulahcen when an as-yet-unnamed third individual triggered his explosive vest brought to light another individual who adds a curious twist to the story of the Friday the 13th attacks in Paris. As events unfolded in the rue de Corbillon, another property around the corner on the Boulevard Carnot was raided where authorities arrest a man and a woman. The man is Jawad Bendaoud, the “landlord” of the flat at 8 rue de Corbillon. Continue reading