Morocco arrests man with ties to Paris attackers

Moroccan authorities say they arrested a Belgian national of local origin directly linked to ISIS Paris attackers.

Ben Ariel,

ISIS attack in Paris
ISIS attack in Paris

Moroccan authorities have arrested a Belgian national of local origin directly linked to the attackers who carried out the Paris terrorist attacks in November, the Moroccan government said Monday, according to Reuters.

The interior ministry did not provide the suspect’s name, giving only his initials in Arabic. The statement said he fought in Syria with the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front before joining the Islamic State (ISIS).

The suspect, whose initials could be translated to J.A. or G.A., was arrested on January 15 in the city of Mohammedia, the statement added.

"He went to Syria with one of the suicide bombers of Saint Denis," it said, according to Reuters.

Saint Denis is a suburb of Paris where Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a 28-year-old Belgian terrorist who authorities said was the ringleader of the Paris attacks, was killed with other suspects when police raided a home several days after the attack.

A French woman, Hasna Aitboulahcen, was also killed in the Saint Denis raid as was Chakib Akrouh, a Belgian-Moroccan man who police last week identified as the man who blew himself up during the raid on the home.

Investigations by the Moroccans showed that during his stay in Syria, the suspect who was detained built solid ties with ISIS leaders including the ringleader of the Paris attacks, who  planned attacks on Jewish targets in France as well.

The suspect was trained to handle different weapons and guerrilla tactics but left Syria through Turkey, Germany, Belgium then Netherlands from where he came to Morocco, according to Reuters.

The news agency noted that Morocco provided the tip-off that enabled French police to locate Abaaoud, and that the country has been holding Abaaoud's brother Yassine since October.

Morocco has also issued an arrest warrant for Salah Abdeslam, who is suspected of taking part in the attacks and is on the run.

Abdeslam, a 26-year-old Frenchman living in Belgium who is thought to have hired the cars used by the attackers and arranged hotel apartments for the nights before the rampage, is still nowhere to be found. It has been speculated that he fled from Belgium to Germany, and that from there he might have even managed to reach Syria.