TEL AVIV – The mastermind of the November 2015 Paris attacks told an acquaintance that he was the commander of 90 “kamikazes-in-waiting” who infiltrated Europe to carry out terrorist attacks, according to information contained in a 55-page report compiled by French anti-terrorism officials.
The report was leaked to the New York Times, which published the startling details on Saturday. The report is newly relevant in light of the Islamic State’s Tuesday terror attacks in Brussels that killed at least 31 people and wounded at least 270 others.
The French report included details of a meeting between the Paris mastermind, Abdelhamid Abaaoud; his first cousin, 26-year-old Hasna Aitboulahcen; and a friend of Aitboulahcen’s.
The Times reported:
On Nov. 15, [Aitboulahcen] and a friend drove out to a remote spot along the freeway, where Mr. Abaaoud came out of the bushes and joined them, the report said, quoting the account of the friend.
According to the friend’s account to the police, Mr. Abaaoud regaled them with stories about how he had made it to Europe by inserting himself in the stream of migrants fleeing across the Mediterranean. He explained that he was among 90 terrorists who had made it back and who had gone to ground in the French countryside, the friend told the police.
“Abaaoud clearly presented himself as the commander of these 90 kamikazes-in-waiting, and that he had come directly to France in order to avoid the failures they had experienced in the past,” the police said the friend had told them.
The Times reported on the seeming ease with which the attackers in Paris were able to move between Belgium and France, and even between the Middle East and Europe. The newspaper attributed some of this to what the Times described as “the inability or unwillingness of countries to share intelligence about potential terrorists, for legal, practical, and territorial reasons.”
“We don’t share information,” Alain Chouet, a former head of French intelligence, told the Times. “We even didn’t agree on the translations of people’s names that are in Arabic or Cyrillic, so if someone comes into Europe through Estonia or Denmark, maybe that’s not how we register them in France or Spain.”
Regarding the jihadists’ ability to cross borders with impunity, the newspaper added:
They exploited weaknesses in Europe’s border controls to slip in and out undetected, and worked with a high-quality forger in Belgium to acquire false documents.
The Times further provided details of how the suicide bombers were able to blend in, disguising explosives beneath their clothes:
At the scene of one suicide bombing, at a McDonald’s restaurant about 250 yards from the French national soccer stadium, the police bagged the bomber’s severed arm. The autopsy showed that a piece of string with a flap of adhesive tape at one end, believed to be the detonation cord, was wrapped around the limb. Along with TATP residue, they found electrical wires, a 9-volt battery to drive the detonation, and pieces of metal, including bolts, that had been mounted on the suicide belt as projectiles. Seeking to blend in with the soccer fans, another bomber had been wearing a tracksuit with the logo of the German soccer team Bayern Munich. His severed leg was found still in the tracksuit and, next to him, again, a piece of white string.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.