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Paris attack suspect posted on Facebook while evading capture

Jean-Charles Brisard, from the French Centre for the Analysis of Terrorism, who saw the docs, said it was \"surprising\".

Published: 06th September 2016 08:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th September 2016 08:01 AM   |  A+A-

France-AP 2

French soldiers patrol in the streets of Paris Saturday July 9, 2016. French police and troops are gearing up for their biggest security challenge since the deadly Nov. 13 attacks across Paris last year. | AP

A Previously unknown member of the Paris terror attacks cell managed to evade capture until July despite regular posts on Facebook from Belgium, intelligence documents reveal.

The Moroccan suspect, Abid Tabaouni, is believed to have been part of a three-man unit ordered to take part in an even wider series of attacks than those that left 130 dead in and around Paris on November 13. Their initial plan is thought to have been foiled after two members of the team were held up in Greece weeks before the Paris killings.

The documents from internal European investigations reveal that Tabaouni evaded capture when his two suspected accomplices - Algerian-born Adel Haddadi and his Pakistani travel partner Muhammad Usman - were seized at an Austrian refugee centre. Police found his mobile next to Haddadi's bed and on it a photo of Tabaouni by his side taken 30 minutes before.

Tabaouni remained on the loose in Europe for seven months despite posting regular pictures on Facebook from Belgium, where he was finally arrested in Brussels in July. None of his postings give away his terrorist leanings.

Jean-Charles Brisard, from the French Centre for the Analysis of Terrorism, who reviewed the documents, said it was "surprising" he managed to remain on the loose for so long.

He added: "These individuals were in contact with other people. The inquiry is still underway and we could well have other surprises concerning other suspects linked to the Paris and Brussels attacks that have, for a variety of reasons, not yet been arrested."

Mr Brisard said the documents suggest that among recruits returning from Syria, Isil apparently had trouble finding operatives willing to attack Britain. "It clearly appears from interrogations that Islamic State was finding it hard to find operatives to strike Germany or Britain - that there were less candidates when compared to France or Belgium," Mr Brisard said.

Haddadi and Usman set out from Raqqa in Syria, six weeks before the Paris attacks. After crossing to Greece, they were arrested for possessing fake passports and held for a month, scuppering their chances of taking part.

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