Last February, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who is reputed to have had a prominent role in organizing the Islamic terrorist attacks on Friday that murdered 129 people and left over 300 wounded, boasted about his skill in planning attacks and hiding successfully from Belgian authorities in ISIS’s English-language magazine, Dabiq.
Vocativ reports that the interview was posted on ISIS’s social channels and on the deep web.
After a failed attack in Verviers, Belgium, in which two terrorists were killed, Abaaoud said he escaped to Syria despite intelligence agencies chasing him. He bragged to Dabiq, “All this proves that a Muslim should not fear the bloated image of the crusader intelligence. 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.” He said of the two terrorists, “Both brothers were blessed with shahādah [martyrdom], which is what they had desired for so long.”
Abaaoud said he narrowly escaped from law enforcement, adding, “I was even stopped by an officer who contemplated me so as to compare me to the picture, but he let me go, as he did not see the resemblance! This was nothing but a gift from Allah … 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.”
In his interview with Dabiq, Abaaoud bragged he wanted to “Terrorize the crusaders waging war against the Muslims.”
Vocativ stated that Abaaoud fought for ISIS in Syria and uses the nickname Abu Umar al-Baljiki. He graduated from one of the best high schools in Brussels, according to AP. According to The Guardian, Abaaoud was witnessed driving a vehicle carrying the mutilated remains of victims to a mass grave on an ISIS video.
AP reported French officials believe Abaaoud was involved in other failed attacks, including the incident in which three Americans throttled a man opening fire on an Amsterdam-to-Paris train.
USA Today reported that French radio station RTL called Abaaoud “one of the most active” Islamic State executioners in Syria.
The Guardian stated that Abu Oud was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Belgian court in 2015 after being tried in absentia for recruiting for ISIS in Syria.