How Two Women Decided the Fate of Paris Attack's Mastermind

Abdelhamid Abaaoud relied on his cousin for help
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2016 5:10 PM CDT
This photo in an Islamic State online magazine shows Abdelhamid Abaaoud.   (militant photo/Dabiq Magazine via AP)

(Newser) – The mastermind of the Paris attacks was nearly saved by one woman and had his fate sealed by another, the Washington Post reports. Documents from French investigators show that terrorist Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 28, turned to these women for help two days after the November attacks—and while one did help, the other tipped off authorities. Abaaoud's helper, 26-year-old cousin Hasna Aitboulahcen, was enamored with the man who had moved up the Islamic State ranks and appeared in online videos. "I'm meant to marry him," she once said. The other, Aitboulahcen's sometime roommate, joined her on an obscure road that night and met Abaaoud. Aitboulahcen leaped gleefully into his arms, but the other woman shuddered. "I'd seen him on TV," she said.

Abaaoud apparently offered his cousin 5,000 euros to help him and an unseen accomplice get new clothes and find an apartment to hide out. The other woman, who is keeping her identity secret, says she later tried and failed to get Aitboulahcen drunk enough to call police. The next day, the woman secretly visited France's counter-terrorism unit, the SDAT, and spilled everything. That's how French authorities knew to raid an apartment in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis on Nov. 18; during the raid, Abaaoud and Aitboulahcen were killed. "I no longer feel safe when I walk around," the woman says. "It’s important the world knows that I am Muslim myself. It's important to me that people know what Abaaoud and the others did is not what Islam is teaching." (Abaaoud was said to be planning other attacks after Paris.)

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