Mon, Nov 16, 2015 - Page 1 News List

PARIS ATTACKS: First suspect named after Paris carnage

FINGERED:Omar Ismail Mostefai, who had a number of convictions for petty crimes, was named after his prints were taken from a severed finger in the Bataclan

AFP and Reuters, PARIS and BELGRADE

A man looks at flowers and candles placed in front of the Carillon restaurant in Paris yesterday.

Photo: EPA

French police have identified the first of seven attackers who killed at least 129 people in a wave of carnage claimed by the Islamic State group, as international investigators stepped up their probes into the attacks.

The Islamic State group said they were behind the gun and suicide attacks that left a trail of destruction at a sold-out concert hall, at restaurants and bars, and outside the Stade de France.

French authorities on Saturday named the first attacker as 29-year-old Omar Ismail Mostefai, who was identified from a severed finger found at the Bataclan theater, scene of the worst of the bloodshed, while the Serbian Ministry of the Interior said the holder of a Syrian passport — which was found near the body of one of the attackers who died in Friday night’s attacks in Paris — passed through Serbia last month, where he sought asylum.

“One of the suspected terrorists — A.A. — who is of interest to the French security agencies, was registered on the Presevo border crossing on Oct. 7 this year, where he formally sought asylum,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Presevo border crossing separates Serbia from Macedonia.

“Checks have confirmed that his details match those of the person who on Oct. 3 was identified in Greece. There was no Interpol warrant issued against this person,” the ministry said.

“We confirm that the [Syrian] passport holder came through the Greek island of Leros on Oct. 3, where he was registered under EU rules,” Greek Minister of Citizen Protection Nikos Toskas said.

French President Francois Hollande called the coordinated assault on Friday night an “act of war” as the capital’s normally bustling streets fell eerily quiet 10 months after attacks on magazine Charlie Hebdo shocked the nation.

The investigation widened across Europe, with Belgian police arresting several suspects and German authorities probing a possible link to a man recently found with a car full of explosives.

The attacks, which killed 129 people and wounded 352, including 99 critically, were the first-ever suicide bombings on French soil. Unlike those in January, none of the assailants had ever been jailed for terror offenses.

Mostefai, born in the poor Paris suburb of Courcouronnes as one of four brothers and two sisters, had eight convictions for petty crimes, but had never been imprisoned. Prints found on a finger in the Bataclan matched those in police files.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said he had come to the authorities’ attention in 2010 as having been radicalized, but had “never been implicated in a terrorist network or plot.”

“It’s a crazy thing, it’s madness,” his brother told reporters, his voice trembling, before he was taken into custody along with his father on Saturday night. “Yesterday I was in Paris and I saw what a mess this was.”

In a statement posted online on Saturday, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks and referred to French air strikes on the militants’ positions in Syria.

The group, which has sown mayhem in large swathes of Syria and Iraq, threatened further attacks in France “as long as it continues its crusader campaign.”

A total of 89 people were killed at the Bataclan by the armed men, who burst in shouting “Allahu Akbar” before gunning down concert-goers and executing hostages.

The attackers were heard raging at the French president and his decision in September to join US-led air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria.

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