French authorities confirmed this morning that the ′mastermind′ behind Friday′s Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, is dead. He was killed in yesterday′s police raid at an apartment building in Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris. Abaaoud was considered to have been a top recruiter for ISIS in Europe. During the pre-dawn raid, Abaaoud and a female cousin were killed. She had blown herself up using a ′suicide′ bomb vest early in the police assault. It remains unclear just how Abaaoud was killed, as French officials describe his body being riddled with dozens of wounds. Police fired some 5,000 rounds during the raid, plus there were many fragments caused by the bomb vest. Some say that Abaaoud, himself, was wearing an explosive vest.
Abdelhamid Abaaoud was born in Morocco but raised in Belgium. At some point the 27-year old became radicalized and went to Syria to join the Islamic State as a soldier. He was even featured in some ISIS videos. Abaaoud returned to Belgium and apparently began recruiting for ISIS, creating terror cells of those Muslims who were prepared to die for jihad. Police believe that he was the planner for the train attack which had been thwarted by three Americans. His death is considered as a success after an extensive manhunt began following the Paris attacks. However, some terrorists are still at large and ISIS released a second new threat video naming New York City as a target. This follows a video the day before naming Washington, DC, along with several European cities.
Barack Obama continues to face harsh criticism over his failed policies in dealing with the Islamic State and the Syrian refugee crisis. The US Congress is set to vote on a measure to suspend admission of more refugees from Syria until a workable vetting process is developed. The White House and Democrats on Capitol Hill say the process is already adequate, taking 18-24 months before a refugee is allowed into the United States. Obviously, if it is taking that long, one would think that it would be quicker, and less of a cultural shock, to establish a safe zone in or near Syria where refugees can receive assistance.
France and Russia stepped up their bombing campaigns over Syria. The French aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, is on its way to the area and would nearly triple the number of aircraft available. French warplanes bombed oil facilities in hopes of crushing the flow of money to ISIS. Russia used its largest, super-sonic bombers, the Backfire, a copy of our B-1, against ISIS targets, dropping scores of ′iron bombs′ as well as launching guided, cruise missiles on command centers.
While French authorities confirm that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind behind the Paris attacks, is now dead, the hunt goes on for other terrorists throughout France, Belgium and Germany. In the Western Hemisphere, 5 Syrian men were detained by Honduran police trying to fly to the US using stolen Greek passports. There is also a report that 8 Syrians were arrested trying to enter Texas from Mexico. There seems little doubt that ISIS is far from contained and is busy expanding its reach worldwide, contrary to what Obama says.