Tag Archives: Paris Attacks

Brussels Attack: Manhunt Continues as Police Identify Bomb Suspect, Suicide Bombers

Belgian police have identified multiple suspects who they say are responsible for explosions at an airport and a metro station in Brussels Tuesday morning.

The Associated Press reported that police conducted raids into the night and circulated a photo of three men seen in the airport suspected of involvement,” and that Belgian state broadcaster RTBF identified two of the suspects as brothers Khalid and Brahim El-Bakraoui.

RTBF also reportedly claimed that the two El-Bakraoui brothers involved in the attacks acted as suicide bombers, with Brahim El-Bakraoui at Brussels’ Zaventem airport, and Khalid El-Bakraoui at the Maelbeek metro station.

The news agency noted that while the brothers had criminal records for armed robbery charges, they were not known as suspected terrorists. Khalid El-Bakraoui reportedly rented one of the apartments raided by police in their search for Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in the Paris terrorist attacks, who was arrested four days before the attacks in Brussels, and was linked to the Islamic State.

As previously reported, Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for the attacks in Brussels, claiming that “Islamic State fighters carried out a series of bombings with explosive belts and devices on Tuesday, targeting an airport and a central metro station in the center of the Belgian capital Brussels.”

Belgian prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said Wednesday that police found a computer with a will left by Brahim El-Bakraoui, and that two other men captured on CCTV at the airport with Brahim have not been identified.

Reuters reported that although Belgian media reported that Najim Laachraoui, a prime suspect in the airport bombings, was detained Wednesday, they later reported that the person arrested was misidentified.

The AP reported that Belgian police have been searching for Laachraoui since last week, because he is “a suspected accomplice of Abdeslam,” and he is “believed to have made the suicide vests used in the Paris attacks.”

While the death toll is currently at 34 with 260 wounded, Health Minister Maggie De Block said that it will likely rise, due to the fact that some of the victims of the bomb blasts were blown to pieces and it is hard for officials to identify them.

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Bipartisan Senators to Introduce Bill Forcing Companies to Override Encryption

A bipartisan team of United States senators is reportedly close to introducing a controversial bill that would let law enforcement force companies to comply with court orders seeking access to encrypted data.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.), both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, began working on the bill after mass shootings occurred in Paris in November, and in San Bernardino, California, in December.

Following the shootings, Feinstein said she was “going to seek legislation if nobody else is,” and she claimed that it was in sync with the changing world.

“I think this world is really changing in terms of people wanting the protection and wanting law enforcement, if there is conspiracy going on over the Internet, that that encryption ought to be able to be pierced,” Feinstein said.

[RELATED: U.S. Police Chiefs Demand Access to Encrypted Communications Following Paris Attacks]

One of Feinstein’s aides reportedly said that while the bill will require companies to decrypt previously encrypted data and turn it over to law enforcement, it does not list a specific penalty for noncompliance, which would leave the punishment up to the courts.

While the bill could be introduced this week, Feinstein told The Hill she passed the text along to the White House, leaving the timing of the introduction up to President Obama, and Burr said it “depends on how fast the White House gets back to us.”

[RELATED: Apple Rejects Government Order to Create ‘Backdoor’ for iPhone]

The bill has received criticism from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who told the Huffington Post that he believes it will give tech companies few options, and as a result, “the American people will be less safe and less secure in their homes and neighborhoods.”

“I will do anything necessary to block a bill that weakens strong encryption,” Wyden said. “I will use every procedural tool in the Senate to block a bill that weakens strong encryption because I believe that weakening strong encryption will leave millions of Americans less safe and less secure.”

[RELATED: NY Judge: DoJ Cannot Force Apple to Extract Data from Locked iPhone in Drug Case]

The introduction of Feinstein and Burr’s bill comes at a time when Apple Inc. is pushing back against the Department of Justice on 12 different court orders that would require the company to go from extracting contacts photos and call records from an iPhone, to designing new software that would let the government override the iPhone’s encryption altogether.

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70 Paris Airport Employee Security Passes Revoked Amid Extremism Concerns

PARIS- Following the deadly attacks in Paris on November 13th, seventy workers of the Paris airports have had their security passes revoked after suspected ties to radical Islam.

“Nearly 70 red badges were withdrawn after the attacks, mainly for cases of radicalization,” said Augustin de Romanet, chief executive officer of ADP, the company who operates the two Paris airports.

French security personnel also searched the lockers of some 4,000 workers at the Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in an attempt to locate potential terrorists employed at the Paris hubs.

Plans to attack Charles de Gaulle, France’s largest international airport, were found by French security forces during raids in Paris suburbs five days after the November 13th attacks.

Concerns over airport employees were first initiated in October after Western intelligence officials voiced concerns that the bomb which destroyed a Russian passenger aircraft was planted by Egyptian airport personnel.

85,000 people are said to have secure-zone clearance between the two Paris airports, mostly consisting of airline personnel or several hundred firms subcontracted to work on the premises.

The red badges are specifically issued to individuals employed to work secure areas in positions such as baggage handling, suppliers and aircraft cleaning.

“To be issued with a red badge, you have to be cleared by police, and if you work for a company that carries out security checks of in-flight luggage, you need three police checks,” De Romanet said.

State of emergency powers implemented by the French government allowed to a number of airport workers with suspected links to radical Islam to be placed under house arrest.

Information releases following the November 13th attacks state that dozens of personnel had security passes revoked following the January attack of the Paris based magazine Charlie Hebdo. Other individuals were allowed to maintain security access despite being flagged as potential Islamic extremists.

The Paris region maintains concern about radicalized bus, metro and rail operators following news that Samy Amimour, an attacker of the Bataclan rock venue the night of November 13th, had worked as a bus driver even after being flagged on an intelligence watchlist.

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France Applies Emergency Anti-Terror Laws to Confine Activists

FRANCE, November 29, 2015– Ahead of planned United Nations climate talks, the French government is utilizing emergency laws put in place after November’s Paris terror attack to hold climate activists under house arrest.

Immediately after the November terror attacks, the French government declared a state of emergency based on a rarely used 1955 law that allows the state to conduct warrantless searches of private property, impose curfews, restrict public gatherings and movements of people, confiscate weapons at will and take over the press.

Legal activist Joel Domenjoud said he had been served with a restraining order describing him as a “principal leader of the ultra-left movement,” a title he disputes, only a couple hours after a judge refused to hear an appeal against the ban on the climate demo Domenjoud had petitioned for. A neighbor informed Domenjoud that a swam of police were lined up the stairs waiting for him to arrive home.

“I feel angry about it because I think they made a big mistake,” Domenjoud said. “They weren’t looking for people like us activists– or if they were, it shows that they can target people for no reason at all and our civil liberties are in danger.”

On Saturday, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve confirmed that the French government had used the recently enacted emergency laws to place at least 24 Greenpeace activists under house arrest.

Cazeneuve claimed the activists are suspected of planning violent protests at the talks which kicked off on Sunday- a day ahead of the opening ceremony- and is scheduled to run through December 11.

“These 24 people have been placed under house arrest because they have been violent during demonstrations in the past and because they have said they would not respect the state of emergency,” said Cazeneuve.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace France director Jean-François Julliard says the activists under house arrest had never committed violent acts, nor had they ever been charged with anything.

“We have the feeling that [the government] wants to stifle criticism from the militants, but they are going about it in the worst possible way, this is repression,” Julliard said on BFM television.

Several sources claim that officers have also raided three squats in Paris- and more across the country- seizing computers, documents and personal items.

Regardless of the threat of house arrest, some climate protesters still took to the streets.

According to the Interior Ministry, more than 300 people have been placed on house arrest since the declaration of a state of emergency just over two weeks ago.

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French Prosecutor: Suspected ‘Mastermind’ of Paris Attacks Killed in Police Raid

The suspected mastermind behind the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 129 last Friday was killed in a police raid on Wednesday, according to a Paris prosecutor.

The suspect, Abdel Hamid Abaaoud, a 28-year-old Belgian militant, was killed after police investigations led them to the Paris suburb of St. Denis and “heavily armed officers stormed the building before dawn, triggering a massive firefight and multiple explosions.”

“Abdel Hamid Abaaoud has just been formally identified, after comparing fingerprints, as having been killed during the raid,” Paris Prosecutor François Molins said in a statement. “It was the body we had discovered in the building, riddled with bullets.”

Police “fired around 5,000 rounds of ammunition in the confrontation and used strong munitions that spurred a floor to collapse,” but that the exact way Abaaoud died is unknown.

The statement from Molins claimed “We still don’t know whether Abaaoud blew himself up or not.”

[RELATED: France Moves to Strip Citizens of Civil Liberties After Paris Attacks]

There was one other fatality in Wednesday’s St. Denis raid: a woman identified as Hasna Aitboulahcen.

Three police officials have reportedly said Aitboulahcen was Abaaoud’s cousin, and one official said she is “believed to have detonated a suicide vest after a brief exchange with police officers.”

[RELATED: France Declares State of Emergency, Military Enacts Full Control]

Following the attacks last Friday, France declared a “state of emergency” which gave the government the authority to utilize censorship, regulate circulation and gathering in some areas, close places of gathering altogether, and to conduct house-to-house searches at any time without judicial oversight.

At an assembly meeting, where a three-month extension of the “state of emergency” status was being debated, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned that “we must not rule anything out” when looking at the prospect of terrorists “using chemical weapons.”

“France has been attacked,” Valls said. “French people are under shock. They are expecting from all of us some strong, quick and effective reactions.”