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Report on Ties between Abaaoud, Failed Attack on European Train | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Abdelhamid Abaaoud is thought to have planned and executed the Paris attacks. – Reuters

Brussels- One year after the Paris attacks, a suicide bomber’s mobile phone was found underneath a pile of paperwork at a Belgian police station.

Officers seized a phone and a USB stick belonging to Ibrahim Abdulsalam during a drug raid in Brussels in February 2015.

Following the November 2015 attacks in Paris, authorities wanted to analyze the phone for details about the terror plot, but it could not be found.

The phone contained evidence that Abdulsalam was in contact with those who carried out the attacks in Paris and Brussels.

Belgian authorities have stressed the phone’s disappearance has not hampered their investigation since the ISIS extremist blew himself up outside a Paris cafe.

The phone was found by chance last week in Molenbeek, the area of Brussels where Abdulsalam and others involved in the Paris and Brussels attacks lived, according to local media.

Ibrahim is the brother of Salah Abdulsalam, the main suspect behind the Paris attacks. Salah was arrested in Brussels four days before the March 22 bombings in the Belgian capital and has been transferred to France for trial.

In the aftermath of the failed terrorist scheme in January 2015, which targeted police stations and officers east of Belgium, Abdelhamid Abaaoud decided to leave Syria and head to Europe to take over the leadership of his own planned attacks in Paris.

Abaaoud had reached Hungary from Syria by August 1 last year in the company of Ayoub el-Khazzani, a Moroccan national who led a botched attempt to wreak carnage in an Amsterdam to Paris train later that month, stopped by off-duty U.S. servicemen.

The fact they traveled together suggests Abaaoud helped coordinate this attack too.

A report released by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point and the French terrorism analysis center, CAT, shed new light on the “French-Belgian nexus” leading to the bloody ISIS attacks of last November as well as the bomb blasts in Belgium on March 22 that left 32 dead.

Key information provided by Hungarian anti-terror services revealed that the first member of the suicide commandos to reach Europe before the attacks was Abaaoud, who was killed in a police shootout outside Paris shortly afterwards.

Abaaoud traveled by car to Austria on August 4 while el-Khazzani left for Vienna by train the following day.

Security agents believe that despite being a wanted ISIS terrorist for his role in a thwarted plot to attack a police station in Verviers, Belgium, Abaaoud was able to oversee the arrival of the Paris attacks commandos from Belgium, probably in a Brussels suburb, not from Syria or Greece.

Newly obtained evidence suggested that he was helped by Abdulsalam, his childhood friend, who played a “critical role in assembling the attack teams” by conducting four road trips from Belgium to Central Europe – three to Hungary, one to Germany – to bring a dozen or so terrorists to Brussels.