Police Arrest Terror Suspects in Hundreds of Raids Across Europe
Authorities have also identified the alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks.
Heavily armored counterterrorism units executed more than 150 raids in eight cities across France on Monday, arresting at least 23 people tied to the deadly attacks on Paris, NBC News reports. Belgian officials also conducted a handful of raids as part of a massive manhunt for the alleged mastermind behind the Friday attacks.
The Associated Press reports that European authorities detained 127 people for questioning and seized 31 weapons, including “a Kalashnikov assault rifle, three automatic pistols and a bulletproof vest from a suspected arms dealer with jihadist sympathies, and a rocket launcher and other military-grade gear from his parents’ home.”
Though police have not yet announced the arrest of anyone directly involved in Friday’s horrifying attacks, authorities are scouring an impoverished neighborhood in Brussels for 27-year-old Belgian man Abdel-Hamid Abu Out, an extremist who French authorities believe was “instrumental” in organizing and executing the gun and bomb attacks that rocked Paris. Abu Oud had previously fought for ISIS in Syria and allegedly masterminded a foiled terror plot back in January in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the Wall Street Journalreports.
From the looks of it, this is only the beginning of France’s crackdown in response to the brutal terror attacks that left more than 130 dead. From the Associated Press:
Determined to root out jihadists within French communities, [French President Francois] Hollande said he would present a bill Wednesday seeking to extend a state of emergency — granting the police and military greater powers of search and arrest, and local governments the right to ban demonstrations and impose curfews — for another three months.
He also pledged to hire 5,000 more police within the next two years, to freeze cuts in military personnel through 2019, and to introduce other bills that would stiffen jail terms for arms trafficking and make it easier to deport suspected terrorists.
The massive crackdown came as Hollande called for a global coalition to “eradicate” the Islamic State terrorist group not just in Europe, but in the Middle East as well.
“France is at war,” Hollande told a joint session of parliament at the Palace of Versailles on Monday. “We’re not engaged in a war of civilizations, because these assassins do not represent any. We are in a war against jihadist terrorism which is threatening the whole world.”
Hollande also called on the U.S. and Russia to “pool their resources” and join the French air strikes currently pounding ISIS targets in Syria, according to Reuters.
“We must combine our forces to achieve a result that is already too late in coming,” Holland said.