NEW: Paris Terror Attack Mastermind Identified, 23 Arrests Made

Abdelhamid Abaaoud Confirmed Dead
Photo: ISIS
PARIS, Nov. 16 (UPI) — France arrested 23 people after conducting more than 160 police raids early Monday as officials identified the suspected mastermind behind the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.
Another police operation was underway in Brussels, Belgium, where reports indicate at least one suspect, Salah Abdeslam, has been arrested. Abdeslam is accused of helping his brother carry out a suicide bombing on the Comptoir Voltaire cafe, one of several locations targeted in Friday’s coordinated attacks that killed at least 129 people and hospitalized nearly 100 in critical condition.
Meanwhile, officials in France identified the suspected mastermind behind the attacks as Abdelhamid Abaaoud — a Belgian citizen and Moroccan native who is believed to be in Syria. Abaaoud, who also uses the name Abu Omar al Baljiki, is believed to be the older brother of Younes Abaaoud, 14, who is accused of travelling to Syria to fight for the Islamic State.IS — also identified as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL — has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks — French officials have also blamed the terror group.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the attacks were coordinated from Syria. He said the police raids were carried out against a “terrorist army.”

“We are making use of the legal framework of the state of emergency to question people who are part of the radical jihadist movement … and all those who advocate hate of the republic,” Valls said.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said more than 100 people have been placed under house arrest in the past 48 hours. The BBC identified five of the suspected Paris attackers as Brahim Abdeslam, Omar Ismail Mostefai, Bilal Hadfi, Ahmad al-Mohammad and Samy Amimour.

At least 118 people died in the Bataclan concert hall, where gunmen shot and killed concert-goers one by one. Militant Islamists triggered explosives and fired shots during a performance by the California rock band Eagles of Death Metal.

Other targeted locations in the attacks:

Stade de France — At the national soccer stadium where France and Germany were playing an exhibition match, attackers bombed two stadium entrances and a nearby McDonald’s restaurant. At least three died. Hollande, who was watching the game, was evacuated from the stadium after the blasts.

La Belle Equipe — Up to 18 people died at this sidewalk cafe on Rue de Charonne.

Le Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge — About 14 people died at Le Carillon, a bar, and the nearby Cambodian restaurant Le Petit Cambodge. Many others were gravely wounded.

La Casa Nostra — Located a few hundred yards from the Bataclan, the terrace of this pizzeria was targeted. At least five people were targeted by attackers with automatic rifles.



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