In Brief

US warns of Europe Christmas terror

Caution urged at festivals and markets as France arrests seven in anti-terror raids in Strasbourg and Marseilles

Salah Abdeslam captured alive in Brussels

18 March

Salah Abdeslam, the man suspected of leading the Paris attacks last year, has been captured alive by Belgian police.This evening, the Belgian government confirmed reports published by several local media outlets that he was in custody. A police source said Abdeslam has been shot in the leg during his arrest.Gunfire and explosions were reported in Molenbeek, the Belgian suburb in which many of the attackers had lived. French President Francois Hollande confirmed an operation linked to the Paris attacks is under way, but has not named its target. "Belgian PM Charles Michel had to urgently leave an EU-Turkey summit in Brussels," says the BBC, suggesting that an official announcement is imminentAbdeslam, 26, fled to Brussels hours following the attacks by Islamic State militants on 13 November, in which 130 people died."Police believe he played a key role in the logistics of the Paris attacks and escorted the three suicide bombers who blew themselves up at the Stade de France," says The Guardian.

Earlier today, police said that his fingerprints had been found in an apartment they raided on Tuesday, when he is thought to have escape capture after a gunfight between terrorist suspects and Belgian police.

Fingerprints of Paris attack suspect found in Brussels flat

18 March

The fingerprints of Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in November's Paris attacks, have been discovered in a flat in Brussels, according to Belgian prosecutors.

The flat was raided by counter-terror police earlier this week, in an investigation linked to the attacks in the French capital, which left 130 people dead.

One suspect was killed during the raid, but two individuals managed to escape.

State broadcaster RTBF has said "according to our information, it is more than likely that he [Abdeslam] is one of the two individuals who escaped during the shootout".

Police have been searching for Abdeslam since the attacks by Islamic State militants. The 26-year-old French national, who was born in Brussels, is believed to have returned to Belgium immediately after the 13 November massacre, in which his brother Brahim blew himself up, says the BBC.

Eric van der Sypt, a spokesman for Belgian federal prosecutors, said: "We can confirm that fingerprints of Salah Abdeslam were found in the apartment."

He provided no further details, citing the "interest of the investigation".

Other French media outlets reported that DNA belonging to Abdeslam had also been found in the flat.

Several of the suspects died during the November attacks, while others were killed in subsequent police raids. A total of 11 people have been arrested and charged, and eight more are still being detained.

Three men and a woman arrested in Paris terror raid

17 March

Three men and a woman have been arrested by French police on suspicion of planning attacks in Paris.

Bernard Cazeneuve, the interior minister, said police had information to suggest that one of those arrested "could undertake violent actions in France".

"This person was arrested this morning along with people linked with him," he added.

French TV station TF1 has identified the main suspect only as "Youssef E", a man well-known to anti-terrorist investigators in the country. He had previously been arrested with two accomplices "as they were preparing to leave [France] to wage jihad in Syria" in 2014.

According to The Guardian, the 28-year-old French man has been under house arrest since 29 February, under the special provisions of France's state of emergency.

He and his partner were arrested in pre-dawn raids in Seine-Saint-Denis, on the north-east edge of Paris. Two other men, believed to be French brothers of Turkish origin, were also detained in a coordinated raid on the 18th arrondissement of the city.

"French authorities are questioning the four and examining seized computers," says Bloomberg. "While no weapons were discovered, ammunition for a Kalashnikov rifle was found on site."

Cazeneuve said no specific threat had led to the arrests and that officials had no direct intelligence that an attack was imminent.

"I call on everyone to be extremely prudent regarding reports that are circulating about an imminent violent act," he said.

Nevertheless, President Francois Hollande has said: "The threat level remains very high. We know that we are a target."

The threat has risen in France since Islamic terrorists mounted attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket in January last year, followed by another large-scale attack in Paris in November, which left 130 people dead.

Brussels raid: Belgium names terror suspect police shot dead

16 March

Belgian authorities have identified the terror suspect killed in a shootout with police yesterday as 35-year-old Algerian national Mohammed Belkaid.

He was killed while shooting at officers from an apartment window in a Brussels suburb during a counter-terrorism raid linked to the investigation into the Paris attacks.

An Islamic State flag and a cache of weapons and ammunition were later recovered from the apartment.

Another two people are in custody, including an injured man who was dropped off at a nearby hospital, The Guardian reports. Four police officers were also injured.

"Police operations are continuing," said Prime Minister Charles Michel.

Belkaid, who was living in Belgium illegally, was shot dead by snipers as he tried to open fire on officers in the street. He was reportedly known to police for a case of theft in 2014.

The raid comes as police continue to search for Salah Abdeslam, who remains a key suspect in the Paris attacks of last November, says Sky News.

A total of 11 people have been arrested and charged in Belgium in connection to the massacre, but Abdeslam and his associate, Mohamed Abrini, both from the Molenbeek area of Brussels, are still on the run.

Two days before the attack, the pair were spotted in a Renault Clio used in the attacks.

Last month, a woman claiming to be Abdelslam's former fiancee gave an interview to a Flemish weekly in which she said he had been radicalised in 2014 after his friend, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, travelled to Syria.

Abaaoud, an Islamic State militant believed to have been the ringleader of the Paris attacks, was killed in a police raid in November.

Eagles of Death Metal back in Paris for emotional show

17 February

Eagles of Death Metal returned to play in Paris last night, three months after their concert in the city was the scene of a brutal terrorist massacre.

The Californian rock band was midway through a set at the Bataclan theatre on 13 November when three Islamic State gunmen stormed the venue and fired indiscriminately on the trapped audience. The terrorists killed 89 people and wounded 200 during a night of terror in which 129 people died in a string of co-ordinated attacks across the city.

The band were determined to finish their show and last night, played to a packed house, which included many victims of the attack, some still on crutches or in wheelchairs as a result of the injuries they sustained, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Eagles of Death Metal's return show did not take place in the Bataclan, where the scenes of carnage were likened to Dante's Inferno, but a few Metro stops west at the Olympia concert hall. Security was heavy, with metal detectors and armed police at the entrances, but the atmosphere within was defiantly raucous.

Band members and audience alike shed tears throughout the set, which deliberately omitted their song Kiss the Devil, which was playing when gunmen first burst into the hall.

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"90954","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

Survivors applauded the band's courage and said their return had brought a sense of closure to their traumatic experiences.

"I needed to finish the show," Nahomy Carrera, who escaped the carnage unhurt, told the Telegraph. "Now I feel that it's over."

Nicholas Stanzick, who survived by pretending to be dead, said the show was "a form of catharsis" that would help him move on to a new phase of life.

The sentiment was echoed by the band's singer, Jesse Hughes, who described the concert as therapy.

"I want to see all those smiles that greeted me in Paris that night," he said before the band began their set. "I really need to see those faces smiling again."

IS video 'shows Paris attackers training in Syria and Iraq'

25 January

Islamic State has released a video it says shows nine men who carried out last November's terror attacks in Paris.

In the footage, the men are seen beheading prisoners and undergoing training, including target practice in Iraq and Syria. It was allegedly filmed some time before they carried out the killings of 130 people in France.

If the men in the video really are the Paris attackers, says The Guardian, it will "indicate that the nine were not only influenced by Isis, but coordinated by the group from strongholds in Syria and Iraq".

The men identified with their noms-de-guerre include Bilal Hadfi, Samy Amimour and suspected ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud.

The Daily Telegraph is in no doubt that Hadfi does indeed appear in the film. He appears to address the camera at one point, saying: "You destroy our homes and kill our fathers, our brothers, our sisters, our mothers and our children."

The newspaper says that a fighter using the name Abu Qital al-Faransi, also in the video, is believed to have been one of the gunmen who opened fire in the Bataclan theatre during a concert by rock group Eagles of Death Metal.

The footage also features some of the locations of the attacks, apparently filmed before they were carried out.

President Francois Hollande of France said the film would not stop his country from resisting terrorism. "Nothing will deter us, no threat will make France waver in the fight," he said, during an official trip to India.

The 17-minute clip also includes an implied threat to carry out a similar attack in the UK. Towards the end of the video, footage is shown of major London sites and of MPs discussing air strikes on IS in Syria.

The film singles out Prime Minister David Cameron and John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, showing images of them with crosshairs over their faces.

Paris teacher 'admits he made up Islamic State attack story'

15 December

A teacher at a Paris nursery who claimed he was stabbed by a man acting in the name of Islamic State (IS) made the story up, according to prosecutors.

The 45-year-old man had claimed he was attacked by a masked man armed with a box cutter and scissors, who shouted: "This is for Daesh. It's a warning."

However, the local prosecutor says the teacher had stabbed himself in the neck and side in his classroom in Aubervilliers, Seine-Saint-Denis. Newsweek reports that the teacher has confessed to making up the story.

It comes just a month after a series of coordinated IS terrorist attacks killed 130 people in the French capital.

The teacher's allegation had prompted a manhunt in the northern suburb, as police tried to track down the alleged attacker.

The anti-terrorism branch of the Paris prosecutor's office opened an investigation for attempted murder in relation to a terrorist act and a government minister visited the scene.

The mayor of Aubervilliers, Pascal Beaudet, said it was not yet known what had motivated the teacher to make up the story. He said the teacher had 20 years' experience and was "appreciated" by parents at the school.

Suspicion was first raised when the teacher claimed the attacker used the name 'Daesh', which is considered derogatory by the terror group.

Teachers are considered key targets for IS. According to the Daily Mail, Dar-al-Islam, a magazine produced by IS, called for its followers to kill teachers in the French education system, describing them as "enemies of Allah" for teaching secularism and "in open war against the Muslim family".

Paris attacks: third Bataclan bomber identified by police

09 December

The French authorities have identified the third suicide bomber who attacked the Bataclan concert hall in Paris as part of last month's co-ordinated terrorist attack.

Foued Mohamed-Aggad, a 23-year old from the French city of Strasbourg, blew himself up at the venue after he at two other attackers killed 90 people attending a rock concert, police sources say.

He travelled to Syria in late 2013 as part of a group of radicalised youth, the BBC reports.

Several members of the group were arrested after returning to France last year, but Mohamed Aggad is believed to have stayed behind and evaded capture upon his return.

Police were only able to identify him after his mother reported receiving a text message announcing that her son had died "as a martyr" in the terrorist attacks, The Guardian reports.

"[This is a] typical way Isis notifies families of casualties," say the newspaper.

His father, Said Mohamed-Aggad, told Le Parisien that he had lied to them about his whereabouts.

"He said he was going on holiday two years ago and he went to Syria. I thought he would die [there], not come back here and do that," he said, adding: "It would have been better that he died in Syria."

The two other Bataclan bombers have already been identified as French nationals Omar Ismail Mostefai and Samy Amimour, who both lived in Paris.

All of the other suspected attackers are dead, except for 26-year old Salah Abdeslam. The 26-year old Frenchman who was born in Brussels remains at large.

Paris attacks: victims honoured in special remembrance service

27 November

France held a national memorial service today to honour the 130 people killed during the massacre in Paris two weeks ago.

Survivors of the attacks attended the special event in the French capital, some of them on stretchers and in wheelchairs, as well as relatives and loved ones of the victims.  

The parents of British victim Nick Alexander were among the 1,000 guests in attendance at the Invalides.

The names of all of the victims were read out while their pictures were displayed on a large screen. The service was then followed by a minute's silence and the singing of the national anthem.

Blue-white-and-red national flags flew from the windows of homes, offices and cars across the city in a mark of solidarity, The Guardian reports.

"It was a beautiful tribute," said Nelly Minvielle, whose 39-year-old son Yannick died in the attacks. "Contrary to what I thought, it has given me some comfort."

However, some victims' families chose to snub the event, blaming the government for failing to tighten security across the capital in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January.

President Francois Hollande delivered an emotional, yet defiant speech at the service, vowing once again that France "will put everything it has into destroying the army of fanatics" responsible for the attacks.

The authorities believe that nine Islamic State militants were responsible for carrying out the attacks on music venues, restaurants and a football stadium on 13 November.

Most of them are dead but two suspects ­– Salah Abdeslam and Mohamed Abrini – remain at large.

Paris attacks: Eagles of Death Metal give emotional first interview

26 November

Members of Eagles of Death Metal, the US rock band that was playing at the Bataclan theatre in Paris when it was attacked by Islamic State terrorists, have given an emotional first interview.

Speaking to Vice News, bandmates gave harrowing accounts of the massacre that saw at least 89 people lose their lives when gunmen stormed the concert hall on November 13.

Warning: contains graphic details[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"87398","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

Though all of the band members survived, their friends and colleagues were not so lucky. Nick Alexander, a 36-year-old from Essex, was selling merchandise for the band when he was shot dead.

Fighting back tears, the band's frontman and co-founder Jesse Hughes said he lost his life trying to protect others. "Nick stayed quiet and never called for help until he bled out, because he didn't want anyone else to get hurt."

He added that the reason the death toll was so high was because people refused to leave their loved ones behind. "So many people put themselves in front of people."

Shawn London, the band's sound engineer who was in the back of the venue when the shooting started, spoke of the terror and confusion when one of the gunmen first opened fire.

"He stayed there and continued to shoot and shoot and slaughter and just scream at the top of his lungs 'Allahu akbar'. And that's when I instantly knew what was going on," he said.

Bassist Matt McJunkins said he managed to barricade himself in a back room with a group of people, many of them badly injured. Their only weapon was a champagne bottle in the mini bar.

"The gunfire got closer. It went on for maybe 10, 15 minutes. It just didn’t stop," he said. "And then it would stop and there was a sense of relief and then it would start up again."

Bursting into tears, he said that their fans had been helping them to come to terms with the tragedy. "Hearing from people, hearing their stories – we don't want that to stop. Anybody who wants to reach out to us, they are welcome anytime."

The band has promised to donate royalties from their covers to the victims' families and urged music streaming services like iTunes and Spotify to do the same, Sky News reports.

Speaking about the future of the band, Hughes said all of them were eager to return to the venue in Paris. "I want to be the first band to play in the Bataclan when it opens back up," he said.

"Our friends went there to see rock and roll and died. I want to go back there and live."

Paris attacks: ringleader returned to scene of killings

25 November

The ringleader of the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris returned to the scene of the massacre while the police operation was ongoing, prosecutors say.

Francois Molins says data from Abdelhamid Abaaoud's phone reveals that the Islamic State jihadi was near the Bataclan concert hall where 89 people died while rescue efforts were underway.

"The geolocalisation of Abaaoud's alleged phone between 22.28pm and 0.28am confirms a presence in the 12th, 11th, and 10th districts, and notably near the Bataclan concert hall," said Molins. "This allows us to think that [he] returned to the crime scenes."

Evidence also suggests that Abaaoud – who took part in the shooting in bars and restaurants – was preparing to carry out another suicide bombing in the capital's business district, says the BBC.

The Brussels-born jihadi was killed during a dawn raid of a flat in the Paris suburb of Saint Denis last week, along with a female suicide bomber believed to be his cousin.

Meanwhile, Belgian authorities have issued an international arrest warrant for another suspect connected to the attacks – 30-year-old Mohamed Abrini.

He was seen driving with fugitive Salah Abdeslam two days before the killings. Police describe him as "dangerous and probably armed" and have urged the public not to approach him.

French president Francois Hollande met with his US counterpart Barack Obama in Washington yesterday, with both leaders vowing to intensify their attacks against IS targets in Syria.

Though there is some divergence between the two leaders on how best to fight the terrorist group, France has emerged as America's closest transatlantic military ally, reports CNN.

"Tuesday's press conference seemed to be a deliberate show of unity and exchange of rhetorical support between the presidents at a time of international disruption and global terror," it says.

Paris attacks: suicide belt found dumped in rubbish bin

24 November

French police are analysing an explosives belt found in a rubbish bin in the Paris suburbs close to where chief suspect Salah Abdeslam was believed to be on the night of the terrorist attacks. 

The undetonated device was discovered by a street cleaner in the southern suburb of Montrouge, nearly two weeks after deadly attacks in the French capital which left 130 people dead. 

A police source said the belt appeared to have "the same configuration" as those used by the Islamic State jihadists who carried out the attacks, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Data from the mobile phone found in a car Abdeslam used during his getaway suggests that the 26-year-old – who is still at large – was near Montrouge on the night of the attacks.

"The discovery of the belt appears to support the theory that [Abdeslam] got cold feet at the last minute and failed to carry out a suicide bombing," says the newspaper's David Chazan.

Meanwhile, Washington has issued a travel alert to all its citizens in response to the increased global terror threat. The State Department has warned that intelligence suggests that IS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and other terrorist groups are continuing "to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions".

The alert will remain in place until 24 February 2016 and citizens are advised to "exercise vigilance" when in public places or using transportation and to be aware of their surroundings.

But such broad warnings have been criticised in the past, says the BBC's James Cook. "Both for being so vague as to be of little practical use and for doing the terrorists' job for them by creating a climate of fear in which governments may introduce repressive policies."

"But with millions of Americans travelling this week to celebrate Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday, US officials insist the action is a sensible reminder of the global terrorist threat," he reports.

In Brussels, an unprecedented security lockdown is continuing for a fourth day over fears of an imminent attack. Heavily-armed troops remain on the streets and public events are being kept to a minimum.

However, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said that schools and the metro system would begin to reopen on Wednesday with additional security measures in place.

"We want to progressively return to normal life," he said.

Paris attacks: key suspect evades capture in Belgium raids

23 November

Security forces in Belgium launched a major counter-terrorism operation overnight but failed to capture the key suspect in the Paris attacks.

Salah Abdeslam remains at large after officers detained 16 people in more than a dozen raids in Brussels and Charleroi, the federal prosecutor's spokesman said.

The Belgian-born French national is believed to be the only known survivor from the terrorist cell responsible for carrying out the attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead.   

Belgium has been at the centre of investigations into the attacks after it was revealed that a number of suspects lived in the Brussels borough of Molenbeek, says Reuters.

No weapons or explosives were found during last night's raids, but the country's interior minister said the operation was still ongoing.

"The work is not finished," said Jan Jambon. "It continues in the hours and days ahead."

The failure to capture Europe's most wanted man "will further undermine confidence in the competence of Belgium's counter-terrorism agencies," warns The Guardian.

The operation comes as Brussels remains on lockdown after Prime Minister Charles Michel reiterated that there was an "imminent and serious" threat of a terrorist attack in the capital.

He told reporters that authorities feared "an attack similar to the one in Paris, with several individuals who could also possibly launch several attacks at the same time in multiple locations".

Schools and universities are closed, the Metro has been suspended and bars and restaurants across the city remain empty as heavily-armed police and troops patrol the streets.

The Foreign Office advises British nationals in Brussels to avoid places where there is a high concentration of people including concerts, stations and airports, and busy shopping centres.

David Cameron is currently meeting with French President Francois Hollande to discuss further co-operation in the fight against Islamic State.

 

Recommended

Putin and Russia’s territorial ambitions
A large column of Russian military vehicles and troops move in the direction of the Crimean capital of Simferopol in February 2014
Getting to grips with . . .

Putin and Russia’s territorial ambitions

‘Cabinet angry at defending Johnson again’
Today’s newspaper front pages
Today’s newspapers

‘Cabinet angry at defending Johnson again’

No. 10 tells Peter Andre: siestas wouldn’t work here
Peter Andre on stage
Tall Tales

No. 10 tells Peter Andre: siestas wouldn’t work here

What we know about the Copenhagen mall shooting
Shoppers react after shooting spree
In Brief

What we know about the Copenhagen mall shooting

Popular articles

Are we heading for World War Three?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Are we heading for World War Three?

What happened to Logan Mwangi?
Tributes left to Logan Mwangi
Today’s big question

What happened to Logan Mwangi?

Nato vs. Russia: who would win in a war?
Nato troops
Today’s big question

Nato vs. Russia: who would win in a war?

The Week Footer Banner