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Published On: Tue, Apr 19th, 2016

Mohamed Abrini arrest reveals Islamic State targeting Euro 2016 tournament

The Islamic State linked Muslim terrorist cell that carried out attacks in Paris and Brussels was reportedly planning to target the Euro 2016 football championships in France this summer.

The French newspaper Libération reports that Mohamed Abrini, who was arrested, told Belgian investigators the Islamist group had never intended to target Brussels, but instead was to target one of the world’s largest soccer events.

“According to our information, Mohamed Abrini has explained the initial intention of this nebulous terrorist Franco-Belgian terrorist group was to go into action during the Euro football tournament,” Libération reported.

The tournament is taking place in 10 host cities across France during June and July, with both the opening match and final among those to be held at the Stade de France in Paris, which was also a target of the November attacks.

The claim comes as no surprise to French police. “It’s hardly a scoop to learn that the terrorists were hoping to attack during the Euro. The security forces are always examining possible attack scenarios to know how to respond,” a police officer told Libération.

Abrini was said to have told detectives the plotters feared police were closing in on them after the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, thought to be the last surviving Paris attacker and three days after the arrest, with reports that Abdeslam was cooperating with police, they switched targets and staged the coordinated attacks on Brussels airport and the city metro system, killing 32 people.

photo/Islamic State flag

photo/Islamic State flag

Investigators have found clear links between the cell behind the Brussels attacks and the group that prepared and carried out November’s attacks in Paris.

Both were claimed by Islamic State.

Belgian prosecutors announced this weekend that Abrini, 31, a key suspect wanted in connection with the Paris attacks, had confessed to being the third bomber at Brussels airport. Known from CCTV footage as “the man in the hat”, he left a large bag of explosives at the airport, then fled on foot. He was arrested in a police raid.

 

The four identified bombers who struck Brussels, three at the airport and one in the metro, all had links to the planning and logistics of the Paris attacks four months earlier.

Khalid el-Bakraoui, 27, who blew himself up on the Brussels metro shortly after his elder brother Ibrahim had detonated a suicide vest at Brussels airport, was suspected of playing some kind of logistics role in the Paris attacks.

He had rented, under a false name, the apartment in the Forest area that was raided by police. He is also believed to have rented a safe house in the southern Belgian city of Charleroi used by more of the Paris cell before the November attacks.

Najim Laachraoui, 24, who grew up in Brussels, blew himself up at the airport.

He was also a suspected Islamic State recruiter and bomb-maker whose DNA was found on two explosives belts used in the Paris attacks.In the days after the Brussels attacks, the French president, François Hollande, said the network behind the attacks in Paris and Brussels was being “wiped out”, but he added that other networks existed and there was still a threat.

 

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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