PARIS, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind behind last month’s Isis attacks in Paris, may have directed the three militants inside the Bataclan concert hall by phone from a few blocks away.
A witness saw Abaaoud, who was days later killed in a police raid, in a doorway yelling at his phone for about an hour, according to Jean-Charles Brisard, a French terrorism expert. The witness made multiple trips to a car parked nearby and saw Abaaoud, who was described as agitated.
The witness account is disclosed in a report by the Combating Terrorism Center’s journal the Sentinel, which warns of the rising threat of the Islamic State.
“The complexity of the latest attacks and the level of planning and preparation required suggest Islamic State fighters are adapting to the law enforcement and security measures arrayed against them, which raises significant concerns and questions about the viability of the status quo in the European security paradigm,” the CTC writes in the report.
The report details that the latest plots and attacks by the Islamic State signal a shift in its strategy. The attacks were meant to “inflict indiscriminate mass casualties,” a change from the “previous selective and symbolic targeting by Islamic State-inspired or directed militants targeting high-value targets such as religious communities, police, and military personnel.”
“This shift might be a strategic move by the Islamic State leadership, but it is more likely temporary and linked to specific planners, including the Abaaoud network,” the report states. “It may also suggest progressive adaptation to law enforcement and security measures by attempting to make the threat less predictable.”
Abaaoud reportedly planned another major attack on the French business district of La Defense — located just northwest of Paris — to be carried out either the day he was killed or the following day.