BLOWN

Paris ‘Mastermind’ Told ISIS Magazine that Bungling Police Officers Let Him Escape

The man police believe orchestrated the attacks on Paris was interviewed in February’s edition of Dabiq, the ISIS propaganda magazine.

11.16.15 11:58 AM ET

CAIRO — The alleged mastermind of the Paris attack gave an interview to ISIS’s Dabiq magazine earlier this year in which he spoke about being on the radar of intelligence services and escaping capture while planning a “plot” that appears to be Friday’s attacks.

The three-page interview in the seventh issue of the magazine, a sophisticated monthly publication, is in a question-and-answer format, in which Dabiq interviews Abu Umar al-Baljiki, a nom de guerre. Paris authorities knew him as Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a 27-year-old Belgian national.

He reportedly orchestrated the attacks from ISIS-held territory in Syria, where French radio station RTL reported that he is one of the most active “executioners.”

Abaaoud has been named in association with numerous planned attacks in Europe, including the French train attack in August that was foiled by off-duty American troops. “He appears to be the brains behind several planned attacks in Europe,” a French security official told Reuters.

An English translation of the magazine (PDF) also included gruesome photos of the death of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kassabeh, who was captured and burned to death while held in a cage, a call for followers to read a book about ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, and a story about the beheading of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto.

In the February 2015 interview, Abaaoud said he traveled with two others to Belgium from Syria to “terrorize the crusaders waging war against the Muslims. As you know, Belgium is a member of the crusader coalition attacking the Muslims of Iraq and Sham.”

He said it took months to finally enter Europe but once there, “we were then able to obtain weapons and set up a safe house while we planned to carry out operations against the crusaders. All of this was facilitated for us by Allah. There is no might nor power except by Him.”

He said he had been imprisoned before so the authorities knew him. But after a raid by Belgian authorities on the safe house, which he said led to a 10-minute gun battle with 150 soldiers and the death of his two associates, he became a wanted man. At one point, the intelligence services had a photo of him, which led to a stop by a police officer. Abaaoud himself seems shocked to have escaped arrest.

“I was even stopped by an officer who contemplated me so as to compare me to the picture, but he let me go, as he did not see the resemblance! This was nothing but a gift from Allah,” he said.

That escape allowed him to keep planning as, he said, authorities chased the wrong suspects.

“After the raid on the safe house, they figured out that I had been with the brothers and that we had been planning operations together. So they gathered intelligence agents from all over the world—from Europe and America—in order to detain me. They arrested Muslims in Greece, Spain, France, and Belgium in order to apprehend me. Subhanallah [by glory be to God], all those arrested were not even connected to our plans! May Allah release all Muslims from the prisons of these crusaders,” he said in the interview. “All this proves that a Muslim should not fear the bloated image of the crusader intelligence.”

He does not specify what the plot was but ISIS anticipates his death as it includes a final message or testament from him. He quotes a number of passages from the Quran that call for Allah’s followers to stop those who dismember Muslim children and bombard the Muslim world.

“Finally, remember what Allah said, {O you who have believed, whoever of you should revert from his religion–Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him [who are] humble toward the believers, mighty against the disbelievers; they strive in the cause of Allah and do not fear the blame of a critic. That is the favor of Allah; He bestows it upon whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing} [Al Ma’idah: 54],” the interview ends.