What We Know About the Paris Attackers


By Chas Danner
New York Times
14 November 2015

It’s now pretty clear that ISIS-linked terrorists were behind the brutal attacks which killed 129 people and injured another 352 last night in Paris, and now details about the individual attackers and their possible accomplices are beginning to emerge.

As of midday Saturday, eight men are known to have executed the attacks, and those eight were all killed, seven by detonating their explosive suicide vests, and one after being shot by police. According to Paris prosecutor Francois Molins, the attacks were conducted by three coordinated teams of assailants: one at the Stade de France, one traveling in a black Seat car which fired on multiple locations, and the third team traveling in a black Volkswagen Polo. One of the cars was registered to a French citizen who was stopped at the Belgian border with two other people.

The Los Angeles Times reports that, according to U.S. law enforcement officials, French authorities now believe that the attack was planned and financed within a small terrorist cell in Brussels, likely incorporating several participants who had experience living in Paris, based on the sophistication of Friday’s attack. Indeed, this afternoon in Brussels, Belgian police raided a neighborhood where they believe three of the Paris attackers may have lived, making several arrests. Le Monde is also saying that a witness in Paris reported some of the assailants were traveling in a car with Belgian plates (and a car like that was subsequently found near Le Bataclan).

The Paris attacks began around 9:20 p.m. when one of three terrorists blew himself up at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis. The first two suicide bombings happened outside the stadium, and the third by a nearby McDonalds. One civilian was killed in these bombings. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that one of the three attackers had a ticket for France-Germany soccer match that was underway, and detonated his suicide belt after being turned away at one of the stadium’s entrances. Police suspect his aim was to blow himself up in the stadium so as to cause a deadly stampede among the crowd. In other news regarding the stadium attackers, an Egyptian and a Syrian passport were reportedly found by the remains of two of the suicide bombers there.

Another three men perpetrated the siege of Le Bataclan concert hall, resulting in the systematic slaughter of at least 89 people who were attending a sold-out rock concert — the deadliest attack of the night. Little is yet known about those men, except that one was apparently identified by authorities as a 30-year-old French national who was known to have ties to jihadist groups, and another had a Syrian passport. According to a Greek official, the Syrian passport belonged to 25-year-old man who had been registered as a refugee in Greece, though due to the value of Syrian passports in the refugee community, that does not necessarily mean that the passport’s original holder and the attacker are the same person.The only other information about the Bataclan attackers so far is that witnesses said they seemed very young, were wearing tight black clothing, carried Kalachnikov rifles, and reportedly shouted “allah u akbar” and mentioned Syria and Iraq during the attack. When police commandos finally raided the concert hall, two of the attackers were killed when they detonated their suicide vests, and the third was shot and killed by police.

One of the other attackers, about whom nothing is yet known, detonated his suicide bomb inside the Voltaire restaurant in Paris’ 11th district, seriously injuring a civilian. It does not seem that any information has been released about the eighth attacker killed Friday night, except that he blew himself up at some other site in Paris.

According to a Paris prosecutor, all of the attackers wore explosives that were made from from triacetone triperoxide (TATP), a favorite explosive material among terrorists that is easy to make and difficult to detect. It was also the type of explosive used by failed shoe bomber Richard Reid in 2001.

In addition, German authorities reportedly believe that a 51-year-old Montenegrin man who was arrested in Germany on November 5 may be somehow linked to the Paris attacks. He was found in possession of firearms and a car full of explosives, and his car’s GPS navigator was reportedly set to take him to Paris.

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