Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the presumed mastermind of the Paris attacks, may have been killed in a shootout
. This report
says that two were killed in a raid in Saint Denis and seven arrested; the report does not state that Abaaoud was among those killed.
Some have been wondering whether Abaaoud had "friends" within the intelligence agencies of the west. Justin Raimondo examines the initial evidence here
. I'm not persuaded, but neither am I dismissive.
To begin with, the alleged mastermind, 28-year-old Belgium-born Abdel Hamid Abaaoud, seems to have led a charmed life. A high-profile jihadi, commander of the Islamic State forces at Deir-al-Zor, and their major European recruiter, he has been involved in several terrorist operations in Europe, including the incident on a train bound for Paris foiled by three Americans, as well as an attack on a church in a Parisian suburb, both earlier this year. He is the star of several Islamic State videos, including one that shows him dragging corpses tied to the back of a truck. He even did an interview with Dabiq, the official Islamic State magazine, in which Abaaoud boasted that he returned to Belgium right under the noses of the authorities...
The origins of Dabiq are murky, but that's a topic for another time. Right now, the important thing to note is that Abaaoud seems to have gotten out of one close shave after another.
“After the raid on the safe house,” he told Dabiq, “they figured out that I had been with the brothers and that we had been planning operations together. So they gathered intelligence agents from all over the world – from Europe and America – in order to detain me. I was able to leave and come to Syria despite being chased after by so many intelligence agencies. All this proves that a Muslim should not fear the bloated image of the crusader intelligence.”
Incompetence on the part of the “crusaders”– or does Abaaoud have a guardian angel sitting on his shoulder?
The failure to nab Abaaoud in Greece, in spire of the tremendous resources utilized to that end, is something of a mystery. As the Guardian reported:
“Asked if the suspected leader remained on the run after two people were arrested in Athens on Saturday in connection with the Belgian investigation, Koen Geens, the justice minister, told VRT television: ‘That is indeed the case. Last night’s arrests did not succeed in nabbing the right person. We are still actively looking for him and I presume we will succeed,’ he added.”
Or, as Abaaoud put it to Dabiq:
“Allah blinded their vision... My name and picture were all over the news yet I was able to stay in their homeland, plan operations against them, and leave safely when doing so became necessary.”
offers more background:
Like many of the jihadists who have carried out attacks in Europe, including the brothers who attacked the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January, Mr. Abaaoud showed far more interest in thievery and drugs when he was a young man than in Islam, particularly the highly disciplined, self-sacrificing Salafi strain favored by many militants.
Nor was his family impoverished. His father, Omar, owned a clothing store off the market square in Molenbeek, a borough of Brussels, and the family lived nearby in a spacious if shabby corner home on Rue de l’Avenir — Future Street — near the local police station.
Despite his subsequent denunciations of the mistreatment suffered by Muslims in Europe, he enjoyed privileges available to few immigrants, including admission to an exclusive Catholic school, Collège Saint-Pierre d’Uccle, in an upscale residential district of Brussels.
He was given a place as a first-year student in the secondary school but stayed only one year. An assistant to Saint-Pierre’s director, who declined to give her name, said he had apparently flunked out. Others say he was dismissed for poor behavior.
He then drifted into a group of friends in Molenbeek who engaged in various petty crimes. Among his friends were Ibrahim and Salah Abdeslam, two brothers who, like Mr. Abaaoud, lived just a few blocks away and are now at the center of the investigation into the Paris attacks.
The man was a complete ne'er-do-well and a drug thug. Did he really
By the way: If you want to read an intriguing account of how the CIA infiltrates the jihad underground, see this story
from 2014, which touches on the lingering al-Awlaki mystery. The piece, which came to my attention only just now, may offer some additional insights into the Abaaoud affair.
The reason why.
Nothing done by the Parisian terrorists benefited ISIS or Al Qaeda, so why did they commit a seemingly senseless act? Even if you posit a conspiracy theory of the Paris incident -- and right now, I'm at least semi-open to such ideas -- you still have to consider the fact that those men were willing to die for their cause. Someone told them: "If you do this, X
Solve for X. That's our puzzle for today.
So far, the only argument I've seen that makes any sense is presented here
. Basically, the argument comes to this: The jihadists intend
to create an anti-Muslim backlash in western societies, because alienated young Muslims are more likely to join the jihadist forces.
Altogether, these findings suggest "terror groups may try to provoke a backlash against their own ethnic or religious group in the targeted country, in order to halt the assimilation of Muslim adherents into Western society," the researchers conclude.
Indeed, from ISIS's point of view, that's an intelligent long-term strategy, as fully Westernized Muslims are likely to be far less responsive to their abhorrent ideology.
If this is true -- and I am persuaded that it is -- then the Republican response
to Paris has aided ISIS immensely.
John Kasich, a man for whom I once had some respect, has argued for a government agency designed to promote "Judeo-Christian values"
in the Middle East and elsewhere. This lunatic proposal, which would have horrified this country's founders, will convert exactly no-one while pressing all sorts of paranoia buttons throughout the world: "Hi, I'm Uncle Sam. I'm here to entice your kids away from your religion."
Is ISIS paying
Kasich? Probably not, although the investment would be shrewd.
As one might have predicted, the French are sending warplanes into Raqqa
, the ISIS city-state -- but they aren't doing much harm to ISIS. Compared to the Russian strikes, which have inflicted serious damage, the French sorties appear to be mostly for show.
Nothing done by "the west" has actually hurt ISIS in Syria.