The alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks who was killed in a raid there yesterday has been linked to at least four foiled terror plots in recent months, according to French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
Speaking to reporters, he said officials were told on Monday that Belgian jihadi Abdelhamid Abaaoud had been spotted in Greece. The tip came from a country "outside of Europe." Cazeneuve said Abaaoud was wanted on international warrants and had been sentenced in absentia in Belgium to 20 years in prison.
Spain's interior minister says Abaaoud had used Internet social networks to try to recruit women from Spain to join the Islamic State group. Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz, speaking Thursday on Spain's Antena 3 television, said Abaaoud "had tried to recruit through social networks Spanish people, especially women, to join and travel to fight" for IS in combat zones. He said this matched the extremists' campaign to recruit women to "repopulate" its self-declared caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq.
Counter-terrorism expert, Seth Jones of the RAND Corporation think tank says Abaaoud was likely travelling on false documents and once inside Europe's (passport-free) Schengen area he would have travelled freely.
With files from the Associated Press.
Seth Jones, Director, International Security and Defense Policy Center, RAND Corporation think tank; Jones has served as the representative for the commander, U.S. Special Operations Command, to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations; Author, "Hunting in the Shadows: The Pursuit of al Qa'ida after 9/11" (W.W. Norton, 2012)