Abdelhamid Abaaoud's Death Paris Terror Mastermind Also Visited Germany
SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind behind Friday's Paris terrorist attacks who was killed in a Wednesday police raid, also entered Germany multiple times.
The man who has been described by French officials as the mastermind and "brains" behind Friday's terror attacks in Paris has been confirmed dead. The local public prosecutor said Thursday that Abdelhamid Abaaoud was killed during a raid on an apartment in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis on Wednesday. Officials identified the terror suspect by way of skin samples of the 27-year-old Belgian extremist.
According to information obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE, Abaaoud made repeated visits to Germany. Federal Police at the Cologne-Bonn Airport registered him on Jan. 20, 2014 as he tried to catch a flight to Istanbul. At the time, he told officials he wanted to visit friends and relatives in Turkey before returning to Cologne. Officials believe he then used another route to return to Europe.
At the time, Belgian authorities had issued orders to track Abaaoud's movements in the Schengen Information System (SIS), a database used by countries that are members of the European Union's Schengen area of borderless travel. Under the Belgian orders, he was not to be arrested or detained. German officials passed the information on to Belgium at the time.
Security sources in Germany say that Abaaoud also visited Cologne back in 2008, when he reportedly applied for an export registration plate for a large vehicle. But the circumstances surrounding the visit remain unclear. Investigators say they have no further information about the visit.
Abaaoud was considered Belgium's most dangerous Islamist extremist and was believed to have been a key figure in Friday's deadly attacks in Paris. The Islamist extremist, born in Brussels' Anderlecht district, is suspected of having organized the attacks, and security forces had conducted a desperate search for him after the massacre. French security forces killed Abaaoud during a seven-hour police deployment early Wednesday morning in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, during which officers fired more than 5,000 rounds.
In addition to Abaaoud, Hasna Aitboulahcen, a woman identified by officials as the terror mastermind's cousin, also died in the raid on Wednesday after detonating a suicide vest.
In Germany on Thursday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said the "horrible terrorist attacks in Paris" were more than just a strike on France. "This is an attack on our basic values, on our way of life, on freedom and all of the freedom-loving countries on earth must stand together in all areas to find the perpetrators and also to protect and secure our way of life."