Paris attacks 'mastermind' named as security questions continue


An Islamic State (IS) jihadi has been named as the alleged ringleader of the Paris attacks, as questions mounted about how the terrorists evaded detection.

Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud has been identified as the "presumed" mastermind in the plot that saw 129 people murdered in coordinated shootings and bombings in the French capital on Friday.

He was also linked by officials to previous foiled attacks, including the attempted strike on a high-speed train in August which was stopped when passengers overpowered a gunman. Abaaoud is also said to have recruited his 13-year-old brother to join him in Syria and become one of IS's youngest fighters.

In other developments: 

:: Scrutiny of possible intelligence failings in the lead-up to and aftermath of the Paris massacre intensified as fresh reports of missed opportunities emerged.

:: A huge security operation was mounted across France, with 104 people placed under house arrest, 168 locations raided and a string of weapons seized including a Kalashnikov assault rifle and rocket launchers.

:: In a rare statement in the Palace of Versailles, President Francois Hollande said the attacks were planned in Syria and organised in Belgium. He also revealed that the victims were of 19 different nationalities and suggested the country's state of emergency could be extended for three months.

:: David Cameron revealed that UK intelligence and security agencies had thwarted seven smaller-scale attacks over recent months - one more than had previously been known about. 

:: Scotland Yard said armed police will be deployed at the football match between England and France at Wembley on Tuesday night. The Duke of Cambridge will attend the match.

:: IS - also known as Isil, Daesh and Isis, released a video showing fighters praising last week's massacre and urging supporters to carry out similar attacks.

:: A Greek official told BBC Newsnight one of the Paris attackers aroused suspicion when he arrived on the island of Leros in October, claiming he believed  authorities had insufficient resources to act on their concerns.

:: A poignant minute's silence for the victims was observed across Europe.

Abaaoud grew up in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek, which has emerged as a key focus of investigations into the Paris atrocity.

His current whereabouts are unknown, but the IS magazine Dabiq suggested he had escaped to Syria earlier this year.

New revelations about the extremists who carried out the attack and their movements prior to the attacks emerged.

It was reported that one of the suicide bombers involved in the Bataclan music hall assault had featured in a previous terrorism investigation, but slipped through the net.

Officials identified the assailant as Samy Amimour, a 28-year-old Frenchman, who had been charged in a terror probe in 2012. He was placed under judicial supervision but dropped off the radar - prompting authorities to issue an international arrest warrant.

Claims also emerged that Turkish authorities flagged one of the attackers to their French counterparts last year, but received no response until after Friday's events.

An official was reported to have said that Omar Ismail Mostefai was identified as a possible terror suspect in October 2014, with French authorities allegedly alerted in December 2014 and in June 2015.

Security services were already under pressure after missing an opportunity to detain Salah Abdeslam, 26, who is at the centre of an international manhunt after he rented a car used to carry gunmen to the Bataclan, hours after the carnage in Paris. 

There were also fresh revelations from Germany, with reports that an investigation has been launched into claims that an Algerian man warned fellow migrants at a refugee shelter of an imminent attack in Paris.

An attacker who blew himself up outside the Stade de France was found with a Syrian passport in the name of Ahmad Al Mohammad, a 25-year-old born in Idlib, a city in the north-west of the war-ravaged country. 

The bomber's fingerprints matched those of someone who passed through Greece in October.  Investigators are still trying to establish if the passport is genuine.

Overnight raids conducted around France saw a number of individuals detained and dozens of weapons seized.

Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said: "This is just the beginning. These actions will continue.

"The reply of the republic will be solid and total. Those who want to hurt the republic, they will be attacked, they will be dealt with, and who helped them."

Brahim Abdeslam, Salah's elder brother, has been named by a judicial source in France as one of the suicide attackers. Another brother, Mohamed Abdeslam, was released without charge today after he was detained at the weekend.

Five of seven people detained in Belgium have been freed, while prosecutors said two others have been charged with being part of a terror group.

A major police operation in Molenbeek concluded without any arrests linked to the Paris outrage.