France 'Has Identified Paris Attacks Leader'

Newly published official documents show Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who police shot dead, played a lesser role.

13/07/2016 10:43 PM AEST | Updated 13/07/2016 10:43 PM AEST
Handout . / Reuters
An undated image of a man the Islamic State's online magazine Dabiq describes as Abdelhamid Abaaoud. French police had previously believed he was the leader of the Paris attacks.

PARIS (Reuters) - French authorities say they have identified the commander of the Nov. 13 militant attacks on Paris and know that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, cornered and killed days later by police, played a lesser role.

Newly published official documents cite testimony by Bernard Bajolet, France’s head of external security, to a closed-door parliamentary inquiry into the European country’s anti-terrorism activities held on May 24.

Bajolet did not identify who authorities now think was the commander, or whether the person is alive or dead.

Abaaoud was initially described as the leader of the machinegun and suicide bomb attacks on the Bataclan music hall, Paris bars and restaurants, and the Stade de France soccer stadium, in which 130 people died.

“It is true that Abaaoud was a coordinator, but he was not the commander,” Bajolet was quoted as saying. “We know who the commander is, but I will stay discreet on that point.

“We now have a good knowledge of the organogram ... We have made progress on these subjects, we therefore have an idea of the identity of the commander.”

Parliament published recommendations of the inquiry last week and released its full report on Tuesday.

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