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Thread: Belgium makes three arrests linked to Paris attacks

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    Belgium makes three arrests linked to Paris attacks

    Belgium makes three arrests linked to Paris attacks

    Published November 14, 2015

    Police in Belgium made three arrests Saturday in connection with Friday's bloody terror assaults in Paris that killed at least 129 people, officials said.

    Belgium Justice Minister Koen Geens told the VRT network that the arrests came after a car with Belgian license plates was seen Friday night close to the Bataclan concert hall, scene of the deadliest assault where at least 89 people were massacred by attackers armed with AK-47s and explosives.

    Geens said the car was a rental and the arrests stemmed from police raids conducted in the St. Jans Molenbeek neighborhood in Brussels.

    Earlier Saturday, French media reported that a suspicious black car with Belgian places was seen near the Bataclan, Sky News reported.

    Late Saturday, the area around the Eiffel Tower was evacuated, the Champ de Marspark underground station was closed and there was heavy police activity for a time around the Pullman Hotel, as French authorities continued to hunt the Islamic militants responsible for Friday's deadly attacks. The scenes were eventually cleared.

    Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told a news conference Saturday evening in Paris that the seven gunmen involved in the attacks all wore suicide vests containing the explosive TATP, a chemical used in other major terrorist attacks such as the London bombings of 2005, Molins said, according to the Wall Street Journal. All the attackers either killed themselves by detonating their vests, or were shot by police, Molins said, according to the paper.

    “We can say at this stage of the investigation there was probably three coordinated teams of terrorists behind this barbaric act," the prosecutor said, according to Reuters.

    The swift arrests in Belgium came as France’s president Francois Hollande vowed to punish ISIS for the attacks and French anti-terror police hunted Saturday for potential accomplices to the attackers.

    The terrorists teams carried out their coordinated attacks Friday night at six sites around the capital, authorities said.

    Police pursued numerous leads Saturday as they sought to identify the dead terrorists, determine if they were they only ones involved and track down anyone who may have provided assistance.

    Two French police officers told the Associated Press Saturday that one of the suicide bombers was identified as a young Frenchman flagged in the past for links with Islamic extremist activity.

    The officials said the man was one of the four attackers who blew himself up after a rampage and hostage-taking at the Bataclan. Molin said he had a criminal record with eight arrests.

    Earlier Saturday, police officials said they found a Syrian passport on the body of a suicide bomber at another site targeted in the assaults, the Paris soccer stadium where three were killed. The other victims were killed in bursts of gunfire at restaurants in two popular Paris neighborhoods.

    Molins said the attacker with the Syrian passport was not known to French intelligence services.

    A Greek official said that terrorist crossed into the European Union through the Greek island of Leros in October, a transit point for Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn country.

    A second suspected attacker was likely to also have come through Greece, a Greek official told Reuters.

    Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Toskas, in charge of police forces, issued a statement that said, "On the case of the Syrian passport found at the scene of the terrorist attack, we announce that the passport holder had passed from Leros on Oct. 3 where he was identified based on EU rules.”

    "We do not know if the passport was checked by other countries through which the holder likely passed," Toskas added.

    The BBC, citing British officials, reported Saturday that the attackers were members of a self-contained cell and had travelled to Syria.

    Hollande called the attacks "an act of war" as he promised Saturday to hit back at ISIS, which claimed responsibility.

    His comments came after he declared three days of national mourning and he and top aides held an emergency security meeting to plan his government’s response.

    Hollande had previously declared a state of emergency in France, the first such declaration in decades. He also ordered stepped-up scrutiny at the country’s borders. Parisians were told to stay at home Saturday as the Eiffel Tower and other tourist attractions were closed.

    The investigation into the attack involves hundreds of counter-terrorism officers and was being led by the Paris prosecutor’s office.

    A spokeswoman for the prosecutor Agnes Thibault-Lecuivere said authorities couldn’t rule out the possibility that other militants involved in the attack remained at large.

    As part of the investigation, French police were reviewing hours of surveillance video. They also urged any witnesses to come forward.

    Those killed at the Bataclan had gone to the venue for a performance by the California rock bank Eagles of Death Metal. Witnesses said the gunmen were wearing black and white kaffiyehs.

    Investigators were checking another potential lead from Germany where the governor of Bavaria said Saturday that a 51-year-old man arrested last week near the German-Austrian border with weapons in his car may be linked to the Paris attacks.

    A spokesman for Bavarian state police confirmed earlier Saturday that firearms, explosives and hand grenades were found when police stopped a man on Nov. 5. Ludwig Waldinger declined to confirm reports by public broadcaster Bayrischer Rundfunk that the man appeared to be en route to Paris when he was arrested.

    Responding to questions about the Paris attacks, Bavarian governor Horst Seehofer said: "In the course of spot checks we had an arrest where there are reasonable grounds to assume that there may be a link to the matter." He didn't elaborate in his comments broadcast by Bayrischer Rundfunk.

    Germany's interior minister said French authorities were informed of the arrest at the time, because of the possible link to France. Thomas de Maiziere said the arrested man's navigation device contained an address in Paris, but he urged against making a hasty link to the terror attack.

    "There is a connection to France but it's not certain that there is a link to this attack," de Maiziere told reporters in Berlin.

    Citing unidentified investigators, Bayrischer Rundfunk reported that documents found during the arrest indicated that the man was from Montenegro and was traveling to Paris. It also reported that the weapons, which it said included an automatic rifle and one kilogram of TNT, were professionally hidden inside the body of the car, a VW Golf.

    Last edited by JohnDoe2; 11-14-2015 at 09:42 PM.
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    Paris terror attacks 'carried out by three coordinated teams of gunmen'

    Public prosecutor says three French citizens arrested at Belgian border in connection with Friday’s attacks that killed at least 129 people

    Three coordinated teams of jihadi gunmen struck at six different sites across Paris in a bloody wave of suicide bombings and shootings that left nearly 130 people dead, the Paris public prosecutor has said.

    François Molins told a news conference on Saturday that at least 129 people were killed and 352 more injured – including 90 critically – in the attacks on Friday night on the Stade de France, a city-centre

    concert hall and a series of packed cafes and bars.

    Molins said three French nationals had been arrested in Belgium, where they all lived, in connection with the attacks, France’s deadliest since the second world war and the worst witnessed in Europe since

    the 2004 Madrid railway bombings.

    Islamic State on Saturday claimed responsibility for the atrocities, which the French president, François Hollande, denounced as an “act of war” that must be countered “mercilessly”.

    As police worked to identify the seven militants, all of whom died in the attacks, Molins also confirmed that at least one of the fighters, identified by his fingerprints, was a French national from the

    Paris suburb of Courcouronnes.

    The man, born in 1985, had a criminal record and had been flagged as an extremist as early as 2010, the prosecutor said.

    Relatives of one of the attackers, a Frenchman born in the Paris suburbs, were later arrested on Saturday, according to French authorities who said that searches were underway.

    Molins also said earlier that a Syrian passport, belonging to a man born in 1990 who was not known to the French authorities, had been found lying close by the bodies of two other jihadis,

    who both blew themselves up in the course of their attacks.

    Greece’s citizen protection minister, Nikos Toskas, said earlier that the passport’s owner had entered the European Union through the Greek island of Leros on 3 October, adding:

    “We do not know if the passport was checked by other countries through which the holder likely passed.”

    A government official in Athens told the Guardian: “We found the serial number and we found the finger prints and palm prints that are also taken [from every refugee].”

    But he warned against “automatically concluding” that the passport holder was the assailant.

    Live Terror attacks in Paris: Mourners hold vigils worldwide for victims – live updates
    “It is now up to the French authorities to match those finger prints with the remains of the body of the attacker, and announce the identity,” the official said. “Either this person passed through Greece posing as

    a refugee, or along the way he bought or stole the passport. At this stage either scenario is possible.”

    Greek government sources were later quoted by Reuters as saying that a second man suspected of being among the attackers was likely to have passed through Greece.

    However, a senior Greek government source later told the Guardian there was no indication “whatsoever” that this was the case.

    In southern Germany, the Bavarian state premier, Horst Seehofer, said there was “reason to believe” that a man arrested last week during a routine motorway check with “many machine guns, revolvers

    and explosives” in his car might “possibly be linked” to the attacks.

    Isis said it had dispatched eight jihadi – leaving open the possibility that one may still be on the run – wearing suicide bomb belts and carrying machine guns, across the French capital on Friday night in a

    “blessed attack on ... crusader France”.

    The “carefully selected” sites and coordinated nature of the attacks were intended, it said, to show that France would remain one of its main targets as long as its present policies continue.

    “France and those who follow her voice must know that they remain the main target of Islamic State and that they will continue to smell the odour of death for having led the crusade, for having boasted

    of fighting Islam in France and striking Muslims in the caliphate with their planes,” the group said in a statement.

    Molins said the men, who he said operated in three separate teams in the Seat and a black Volkswagen Polo car, all wore identical suicide vests carrying a charge of TATP (triacetone triperoxide) and

    fitted with batteries and a detonator. They also carried Kalashnikov-style automatic rifles, he said.

    The Swedish, Belgian, Romanian and Italian governments said their citizens were among those killed, while at least one Briton and an American were also confirmed dead.

    Frantic friends and relatives took to social media, using the Twitter hashtag #rechercheParis, to appeal for information about the missing.

    Hollande described the attacks as “cowardly” and “an act of war” that had been “prepared, organised and planned from outside the country by Islamic State, but with help from inside”.

    He added: “We will be merciless toward the barbarians of Islamic State group. Faced with war, the country must take appropriate action.” He but did not say what form that action might take.

    These were attacks “against France, against the values that we defend everywhere in the world, against what we are: a free country that means something to the whole planet”, the president said, calling

    for “unity and courage”. France would observe three days of official mourning, he said.

    The carefully orchestrated series of attacks began at 9.20pm outside the Stade de France stadium outside north of Paris, where three suicide bombers detonated their explosive belts in the course of about
    20 minutes.

    Hollande, who was attending at a friendly football match between France and Germany at the stadium, had to be evacuated by his security guards to the interior ministry.

    The Wall Street Journal reported that at least one of the attackers at the Stade de France had a ticket to the France-Germany friendly match on Friday night and tried to enter the venue, citing a security

    guard who was on duty, as well as French police.

    The guard said the attacker was discovered wearing an explosives vest when he was searched at the entrance to the stadium about 15 minutes after the game started.

    Shortly afterwards, three gunmen entered a popular concert hall in the capital’s north-eastern 11th arrondissement, while others opened fire on a string of cafes and restaurants not far away,

    crowded on a mild November evening.

    They attacks came despite France – one of the founding members of the US-led coalition carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Iraq and Syria – being on a high state of alert for

    possible terrorist attacks in the run-up to a global climate conference later this month.

    Under the first national state of emergency to be declared in France since 1961, an extra 1,500 soldiers were mobilised to reinforce police in Paris, Hollande’s office said.

    All Saturday’s sports events in the capital were cancelled, while many major shops, department stores, museums and tourist sites – including the Louvre, Eiffel Tower and Disneyland – stayed closed.

    Several metro stations were also shut.

    Islamic State also released an undated video on Saturday calling on Muslims to continue attacking France.

    Its foreign media arm, Al-Hayat Media Centre, filmed a number of militants – apparently French citizens – sitting cross-legged in an unidentified location and burning their passports.

    “As long as you keep bombing you will not live in peace. You will even fear travelling to the market,” one of the militants, identified as “Abu Maryam the Frenchman”, told the camera.

    Addressing his fellow jihadis, he added: “Indeed, you have been ordered to fight the infidel wherever you find him. What are you waiting for?”

    As Parisians queued in their hundreds to give blood at a hospital close to a concert hall where the majority of the victims died, a Muslim community leader, Nadir Kahia, said he feared a

    “tsunami of hatred” against Muslims and residents of the capital’s poorer districts in the wake of the attacks.

    The deadliest assault was at the Bataclan, a popular concert hall a few hundred metres from the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine hit along with a Jewish supermarket by Islamist

    militants in January during a three-day onslaught that left 20 people dead, including three Islamist gunmen.

    Witnesses said the militants marched into the venue, where more than 1,000 people had gathered to hear the Californian rock band Eagles of Death Metal, armed with Kalashnikov rifles and
    shouting “Allahu akbar”.

    At least 89 people lost their lives in the ensuing carnage, Molins said, while dozens more were taken hostage for nearly three hours until armed riot police stormed the building at about midnight.

    “They didn’t stop firing. There was blood everywhere, corpses everywhere. Everyone was trying to flee,” said Pierre Janaszak, a radio presenter who was at the concert.

    Other survivors said three of the attackers detonated their suicide belts as the security forces burst in.

    Video footage shot from outside the venue showed dead bodies lying in the street, dozens of people running away from the entrance and survivors pulling the injured to safety.

    One witness described the scene as a bloodbath.

    The other shootings were at bars and restaurants on the Rue de Charonne, where 18 people lost their lives; Boulevard Voltaire, where one person died; Rue de la Fontaine-au-Roi, where five were killed;

    and Rue Alibert, where 14 were shot dead.

    Mark Colclough, a British-Danish psychotherapist, was on the Rue de la Fointaine au Roi in the 11th arrondissement when a gunman opened fire on patrons inside.

    “He was standing in a shooting position,” Colclough said. “He had his right leg forward and he was standing with his left leg back. He was holding up to his left shoulder a long automatic machine gun.

    It was fully intentional, professional bursts of three or four shots. Everything he was wearing was tight, no zippers or collars.

    “Everything was toned black. A man in military uniform, black jumper, black trousers, black shoes or boots and a machine gun.”

    The slaughter brought immediate international condemnation, with Barack Obama calling it “an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share”.

    The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said she was deeply shaken.

    David Cameron said the UK “must be prepared for a number of British casualties”from the Paris atrocity and condemned the “brutal and callous murderers”.

    The Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, said his country “shared the sadness and the pain of the French people”. Terrorist crimes “cannot be justified”, he said.

    “The Paris tragedy requires of us all to unite in the fight against extremism, to bring a strong answer to terrorists’ actions.”

    Pope Francis also condemned the killings as inhuman acts that left him shaken and pained. “There is no justification for these things,” he told a Catholic TV station.

    The attacks follow a narrowly averted disaster in August, when an Islamist gunman was overpowered on a packed high-speed train in northern France.

    Paris terror attacks 'carried out by three coordinated teams of gunmen' | World news | The Guardian

    Last edited by European Knight; 11-14-2015 at 10:32 PM.

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    NOVEMBER 15, 2015

    France bombs Islamic State HQ, hunts attacker who got away

    This undated file photo released Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, by French Police shows 26-year old Salah Abdeslam, who is wanted by police in connection with recent terror attacks in Paris, as police investigations continue. The notice, released on the national police Twitter account, says anyone seeing Salah Abdeslam, should consider him dangerous and call authorities immediately. The notice reads in French: "Call for witnesses - Police are hunting a suspect : Salah Abdeslam, born on Sept. 15, 1989 Brussels, Belgium. ...Dangerous individual don't intervene yourself". Police Nationale via AP

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