PARIS, Nov. 9 (UPI) — After a months-long investigation, investigators in France identified the organizer of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels.
A man named Oussama Atar, also known as Abu Ahmad, helped radicalize participants in the two terror attacks and then coordinated them from Syria.
The Brussels-born man planned the two attacks — gunmen and bombers killed 130 last November in simultaneous attacks in Paris, and bomb attacks at the Brussels airport and subway system killed 32 in March — while traveling back and forth between Europe and the Middle East during the year preceding them.
Suggestions have also been made that Atar recruited the two Iraqis who detonated suicide bombs outside the Stade de France last November, as well.
Investigators have been aware of Atar for more than a decade, starting when he traveled back and forth between Brussels and Syria in 2002, and then was arrested and jailed for 10 years after illegally crossing the border in Iraq in 2004.
During seven years in prison, he is believed to have spent time at Abu Ghraib and Camp Cropper in Iraq, where the investigators believe he was radicalized to join jihadist causes.
Authorities think it likely he spent time in Brussels in August 2015 while planning the attacks in Europe. He is thought to be in Raqqa, Syria, the headquarters for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh, but the investigators say his whereabouts are realistically unknown.