French police launch manhunt for Paris attack suspect

French police release photo of Salah Abdeslam as suspect sought in connection with Paris attacks, describing him as ‘dangerous’

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

French Police Nationale information services call for witnesses notice on their Twitter account November 15, 2015

French police have released a photograph of Salah Abdeslam, a 26 year old French national born in Belgium, suspected to be linked to Friday night’s consecutive terror attacks in Paris and who police have described as "dangerous."

He had already been identified as the renter of two cars with Belgian number plates used in the attack.

Belgian police arrested seven people by Sunday in Brussels, but Abdeslam isn’t among them. He was reportedly released after being pulled over with his car on the French-Belgian border on Saturday.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said, "The abject attacks that hit us on Friday were prepared abroad and mobilised a team in Belgium that benefited ... from help in France," after meeting his Belgian counterpart in Paris.

Seven attackers, two of whom lived in Belgium, were killed during the attacks on Friday night.

Earlier on Sunday, French police identified one of the attackers as 29-year old French citizen Omar Ismail Mostefai, whose detached finger was found at the Bataclan concert hall, where the bloodiest of the incidents took place.

Then they identified two more men, aged 20 and 31, as the suicide bombers at the Stade de France and at a bar in the 11th district. French media named them as Bilal Hadfi and Ibrahim Abdeslam, both French nationals living in Belgium.

Four other assailants are still in the proecess of being identified.

French police believe Salah Abdeslam helped organise the assaults with two of his brothers. One of his brothers died in the attacks and the second one is under arrest in Belgium, a judicial source said.

Three AK47 Kalashnikov rifles were found in the back seat of a car abandoned in the eastern Parisian suburb of Montreuil, which is seen as a sign that one gunman might have escaped.

According to eyewitnesses, the car was used by attackers at multiple locations on the evening of November 13, when six different sites in Paris were hit by several consecutive terror attacks that left 129 people dead and around 350 others wounded as of Sunday night.

Anti-refugee critics

At least one Syrian passport was found at the Stade de France on Saturday. Greek officials said the passport belonged to Ahmad al Mohammad, and confirmed he had crossed from Turkey to the Greek island of Leros last month and registered for asylum in Serbia.

Yiannis Mouzalas from the Greek Ministry for Migration said the registration process of the passport holder was in accord with the European regulations, and he was allowed to enter because there were no red flags on the European security database.

The Serbian Government also said that "There was no Interpol arrest warrant issued for this person."

It’s not known yet whether the passport belongs to one of the three suicide bombers who blew themselves up near the stadium.

The European Council had decided to redistribute refugees among EU member countries.

But the news of a refugee passport being found at the scene of the attacks intensified an already existing row among the politicians of EU members over refugee quotas.

Poland's European Affairs Minister Konrad Szymanski said on Saturday that his country will not accept refugees due to security concerns after the Paris attacks.

Bavarian politicians in Germany called for a change to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s "open door" policy.

Markus Soeder, the Bavarian finance minister, told a local newspaper that "The days of uncontrolled immigration and illegal entry can't continue just like that. Paris changes everything."

Far-right French populist politician Marine Le Pen also blamed her country’s security problems on immigration and Islam.

She said on Sunday that "By spreading out migrants through the villages and towns of France, there is a fear that terrorists will take advantage of these population flows to hit out at us."

Mouzalas, on the other hand, insisted that heightened security concerns shouldn’t jeopardise the rights of refugees to safety in Europe.

"There could be more... are we supposed to toss 100,000 people in the sea?" he asked.

"Greece and Europe must keep a very fine balance between security and human rights," Mouzalas said.

"Most of [the attackers] were born and raised in Western countries... they leave Western countries with legal Western passports, go to jihad and return."

TRTWorld and agencies