Belgian intelligence officials suggested on Monday that as many as 20 people could be involved in Friday’s attacks in Paris. At least five of the suspects are French nationals and several others from Belgium according to a report in Reuters.
French prosecutors believe that a total of 15 men were involved in the simultaneous attacks: seven attackers are under arrest, seven dead after they blew themselves up in suicide bombings and one of the alleged attackers is said to be on the run. However, Belgian intelligence officials suggest the whereabouts of up to six more members of a terrorist cell that planned the attacks remains unknown.
Investigations into the attacks thus far show at least three teams planned and carried out the attacks in Paris.
According to a source close to the investigation, Belgian national Abdelhamid Abaaoud who is currently in Syria, was allegedly thought to be the mastermind behind the deadly Paris attacks. Belgian prosecutors on Monday afternoon said reports of him being the mastermind were still unconfirmed.
“Those are rumours, it’s not confirmed at all and we won’t comment on this,” Brussels prosecutor Eric Van Der Sypt told Reuters.
Bataclan Concert Hall
Omar Ismail Mostefai, the first attaker to be named by French authorities, is reported to have carried out the attack on Bataclan concert hall. He was identified by his severed finger which was found on the scene of the Bataclan bombings, where he detonated his suicide vest. The 29-year-old French national of Algerian heritage was from Courcouronnes, south of Paris and had a criminal record of petty offences.
French authorities took note of Mostefai after he began spending time at a mosque with radical links, The Guardian reported. Turkish officials say he entered Turkey in 2013 but there has been no record of him leaving the country. Moreover, Turkish officials also stated they received France’s request for information on Mostefai only after the Paris attacks had taken place, despite providing them with two warnings.
Mostefai’s brother says they haven’t spoken in years. French authorities are currently holding the attacker’s brother and father in custody for further questioning.
Prosecutors say the second bomber at the Bataclan concert hall has been identified as 28-year old Samy Ammour from Drancy, north of Paris, who was known to counter terrorism units. Ammour had been placed under investigation and judicial control for attempting to go to Yemen. He disappeared in the autumn of 2013 and an international arrest warrant was issued for him.
Stade de France
A Belgium resident, believed to have fought for Daesh in Syria, was identified as the suspect in the attack on France’s national stadium. He was named by Washington Post as Bilal Hafdi. The paper did not reveal his nationality.
Another person believed to have been involved in the suicide attack of Stade de France was identified by Greek authorities as 25-year old Ahmad Almohammad from the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib. His identity was discovered through his passport which was found near his body and he is believed to have traveled through the Greek island of Leros, where he was processed on Oct. 3 before arriving in Greece.
While France has not publicly confirmed that the passport-holder is a suspect, Greek Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas said French authorities have told them they suspect Almohammad to be one of the attackers.
Manhunt for suspect on the run
Authorities are on the hunt for French national Salah Abdeslam, who reportedly rented a car in Brussels that was used in the Paris attacks. Abdeslam was stopped at the Belgian border hours after the attacks took place, but the authorities released him after questioning.
Salah’s brother, Ibrahim Abdeslam (also known as Brahim), was identified by prosecutors as the suicide bomber who blew himself up at Le Comtoir Volatire cafe. That attack resulted in the injury of 12 people.
The third Abdeslam brother, whose first name is unknown at present, is thought to have been arrested by Belgian police in the Molenbeek district raids in Brussels, state broadcaster RTBF said on its website. The poor district of Molenbeek has been at the center of investigations of militant attacks in Paris over the weekend, after it emerged that two of the attackers had lived in the area, The Guardian reported.
As of Monday afternoon, five of seven suspects arrested in Brussels have been released, said Belgian prosecutors.
“It is correct that five people have been released, the judge still has to decide about the two others,” a spokesman for the Belgian prosecutors said.