Skip to main content

US puts IS suspect linked to Paris, Brussels attacks on terror list

Designation marks first official acknowledgement of the identity of senior IS official known as Abdelilah Himich
French President Francois Hollande (L) and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo unveil a commemorative plaque at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris on 13 November 2016 during a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the Paris terror attacks (AFP)

The identity of the mastermind behind the November 2015 Paris terror attacks and the March 2016 Brussels airport bombings has been revealed after the US state department added him to their Specially Designated Nationals list of terror suspects.

Abdelilah Himich, better known to the world as Abu Suleyman al-Firansi, was on Tuesday added to the list which will result in financial and legal sanctions being applied against him.

Himich was originally from Morocco, a fact initially revealed in a report by the US investigative website ProPublica, who also said he had once served in Afghanistan as a soldier in the French Foreign Legion.

The US described him as the founder of a 300-strong "European foreign terrorist fighter cell" involved in the Paris attacks.

In November last year, IS-linked militants attacked the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, sprayed cafes with bullets and set off bombs outside a football match.

In all 130 people died, and hundreds more were hurt.

Then in March, suicide bombers attacked Brussels airport and a metro station, killing 32 more.

According to the State Department, Himich helped plan these attacks, as well as providing fighters for Islamic State operations in Iraq and Syria.

The designation also blacklisted Abdullah Ahmed al-Meshedani, who allegedly houses fighters, answering to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

It also named Basil Hassan, who is accused of shooting and wounding Lars Hedegaard. a 70-year-old Danish historian, in February 2013.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.