Female suicide bomber, attack mastermind killed during raids in Paris

A female suicide bomber detonated her vest and killed herself as French police conducted a raid in a Paris suburb in search for the mastermind of last weekend’s deadly assault in the French capital. Police also killed the mastermind of the Paris attacks and detained seven suspects during the raid.

French police raided an apartment in Paris’ Saint-Denis neighborhood early in the morning after receiving intelligence that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian national who is suspected of plotting the Nov. 13 suicide assault that killed at least 129 people, was there, according to France24.

The woman, who is has not been identified, opened fire on police and then set off what is thought to be an explosive vest. The other militant, who Paris prosecutor François Molins described to The New York Times as a “terrorist,” and later confirmed to be Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was killed by a combination of wounds suffered from the shootout and detonating a grenade.

French police also captured seven other suspects: “three in the apartment, two found ‘hiding in the rubble,’ and two others outside the apartment,” according to The New York Times.

The clash between French special police and soldiers and the suspected Islamic State fighters lasted for nearly seven hours before ending in the late morning. Five policemen were wounded and a police dog were killed during the gunfire and explosions, AFP reported.

Abaaoud, who is thought to have masterminded the Paris suicide assault, was later confirmed to have been killed in the shootout in Paris.

“Abdelhamid Abaaoud has just been formally identified as having been killed during the raid” the prosecutor’s office reported in a statement, AFP noted.

Police and intelligence services in France and throughout Europe were searching for Abaaoud, who previously set up an Islamic State terror cell in Belgium that was raided in January 2015. Belgium police killed Abuz Zubayr al Baljiki and Abu Khalid al Baljiki, two members of his cell, in a raid their safe house in Verviers, but Abaaoud escaped the dragnet and returned to Syria to rejoin the Islamic State.

The Islamic State featured Abaaoud in issue number seven of Dabiq, its English language magazine. In that issue, the jihadist mocked Western police and intelligence services for failing to prevent him from establishing a cell and then later failing to prevent him from escaping the country. [See LWJ report, Key suspect in Paris attacks has been featured in Islamic State propaganda.]

Editor’s note: this article has been updated to note that Abdelhamid Abaaoud’s death has been confirmed.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Art Sadin says:

    Do Not Post but why is the word terrorist in quotation marks? Isn’t the essence of the ISIL attack in Paris terrorism? If it is not terrorism, what is?
    You sound like the occupant of the WH who can’t mouth the words Islamic Terrorist for fear of being struck dead by Allah or becoming a target of ISIL.
    Now, it is hard to tell who is more craven, him or LWJ. Words have meaning. ISIL knows that. Al Awaki knew that. Everyone knows that. This is not Alice in Wonderland where one character says “Words mean exactly what I want them to mean, nothing more or nothing less.” I expect cowardly, craven and feckless behavior by the occupant of the WH; not so much from LWJ. But hey, politics make strange linguistic mates.

  • . says:

    RIP Diesel!

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Actually, Art, I will post your comment and field it. The answer is simple, “terrorist” is in quotes because this is exactly what Paris prosecutor François Molins called him. If you actually read the article, you’d see that.

    It is as simple as that. There is no hidden meaning to it, nor do I share a shred of sympathy to Abaaoud and his ilk.

    At The Long War Journal, we’ve devoted our careers and lives to highlighting terrorists like Abaaoud, and pointing out the very real threat they pose. Next time don’t jump to conclusions.

  • Arjuna says:

    Good piece. Let’s drill down on how much of a “Mastermind” versus Cell Leader/Facilitator this ugly freak actually was. He looks very primitive like he can’t think much. Sorry couldn’t hahaha
    The French let their “terrorist” problem get so bad that they just had to deploy 115,000 troops for internal security and issue atropine from military stocks by national government decree. Sacre bleu! There ain’t much left to throw at the fanatics where they live and plot.

  • Roma_Victor says:

    Really wish you could change “mastermind” to “ringleader.” You are using the one word that would make The Departed happiest.

  • James says:

    Bill, I’m wondering how they can prematurely surmise that the woman committed suicide. After all, it could have been a remote switch he used to detonate her [supposed] “suicide vest”.

    I’ve listened to the tape over and over again. The police say (in French), “Where’s your boyfriend?” She responds, “He’s NOT my boyfriend!” The police then say again, “Where is he?” She responds (again in French), “He’s NOT my boyfriend!” The detonation then occurs.

    They were reported to be cousins. But, who knows, with such a depraved mentality as this guy had, there may well have been an incestuous abusive relationship he had with her.

    Something doesn’t mesh with how and when she allegedly committed “suicide” (as the media mob retorts). In her memory, maybe some benevolent among us can bequeath her a grave marker with an epitaph that reads, “He’s NOT my boyfriend!”

  • Arjuna says:

    Gee whiz, AA sounds like a terrorist Carlos. Ops all over the place, moves like a ghost, recruitment, poster boy, Shaheed, and even confident of Who’s Your Baghdadi? All this after only being radicalized in 2013? Something smells fishy.

    Sounds like the Iraqis were spot-on with their warning about attacks against France from a cell w N African connections. I think that’s more than strategic warning, no?

    Paris 11/13 was only about a quarter successful. They were going for at least double that body count, a stampede that never happened and an attack in Montmartre that was called off. Plus there was a simultaneous attack planned against Istanbul, so they would have hit two cities at once. Bigger than Mumbai, on a par w 9/11, they hoped. En garde!

    Hannover was a strong move too. More of a target of opportunity. That’s two European leaders they’ve forced to scoot in as many weeks. Shows they are armed up and ready, just waiting for orders.


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