With Paris still recovering from the worst terrorist acts in recent history to occur on French soil, the man considered responsible for masterminding the attacks was shot and killed. His corpse was so utterly decimated by the number of bullets used that his identity had to be ascertained from his fingerprints.
Abdelhamid Abaaoud was 28 when he died, a Belgian national with Arabic origins he was the son of a Moroccan Shopkeeper but grew up in the Molenbeek district of Brussels. A place that until recently few had heard of but we have since learned is an area where a large number of Arabic immigrants live and a place blighted by poverty and high unemployment.
Before becoming radicalised Abaaoud had already become well known to the authorities, engaging in petty crime and being convicted for robbery but he cannot blame childhood destitution for his criminal activities as he was offered an excellent start in life, attending Saint-Pierre d’Uccle, a prestigious Belgian secondary school.
Although it is not exactly sure when he became radicalised, Belgian authorities have admitted the Molenbeek area has become a haven for young Muslims embracing the Salafist ideology and has been accused of harbouring more suspected terrorists than anywhere outside of ISIL. Abaaoud joined ISIL in 2013, travelling to Syria and embracing the jihadist lifestyle. He rose quickly through their ranks and was identified in an ISIL propaganda video where he is seen driving a car dragging mutilated bodies behind it.
Abaaoud travelled in secret back to Europe where he helped organise and finance a terror cell in the Verviers municipality in East Belgium. The group of 3 men were planning a major attack on a local police station and intended to publically behead a prominent police official. However, Belgian intelligence services learned of the plot and in January Special Forces raided their base of operations killing Khalid Ben Larbi (alias Abu Zubayr, 23) and Soufiane Amghar (alias Abu Khalid, 26).
Escaping the raid and fleeing back to Syria Abaaoud, now using the alias Abu’umar Al-Baljiki was welcomed as a hero where he was interviewed in Dabiq, an ISIL propaganda magazine. In the interview, he talked about his involvement with the Verviers terror cell and praised in former comrades.
“The kuffār raided the place with more than 150 soldiers from both French and Belgian special forces units. After a gun battle that lasted about 10 minutes, both brothers were blessed with shahādah, which is what they had desired for so long. I ask Allah to accept them both.”
Abdelhamid Abaaoud was also linked with two other failed terror plots, the first was to attack a popular church concert hall in Villejuif, a suburb in southern France and the second was the widely publicised attack on the high-speed Thalys express train that runs from Amsterdam to Paris when a lone gunman armed with an AK-47 was overpowered by three US citizens.
Abaaoud is also a known associate of Salah Abdeslam who is currently on the run and his brother Brahim Abdeslam who blew himself up but failed to kill anyone.
Abaaoud’s is dead, killed on the streets he grew up in but before his death he managed to recruit his younger brother. Younes Abaaoud age 15 is reported to have taken over his brothers’ mantle and already vowed to continue his work to reign terror on Europe.