Newly identified Paris bomber had faced terrorism charges in Belgium

A man who detonated a suicide bomb at an apartment outside Paris shortly after the November 13 terrorist attacks had already been sentenced to jail in Belgium on terrorism charges and had fled to Syria, prosecutors said Friday.

The 25-year-old Belgian-Moroccan man, Chakib Akrouh, died during a police raid on the Saint-Denis apartment where suspected attack leader Abdelhamid Abaaoud was hiding.

Abaaoud and his cousin Hasna Aitboulahcen were also killed during the raid, although it's unclear whether their deaths were caused by police or Akrouh's detonation.

Investigators believe Akrouh took part in the November 13 attacks, which left 130 people dead and hundreds injured. They suspect he may have been involved, alongside Abaaoud, in an attack group that targeted cafes and bars. Two other groups targeted the Stade de France stadium and Bataclan concert hall.

Akrouh was identified by a DNA match using samples taken from him and his mother, the Paris prosecutor said in a statement on Thursday night.

Police honed in on Akrouh after they recognized him in surveillance footage with Abaaoud in the Paris metro after the November 13 attacks, Belgian prosecutors said in a statement issued on Friday.

Akrouh was born in the Brussels neighbourhood of Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, but also lived in the neighbourhood of Molenbeek, an area to which several of the Paris attackers have been linked.

In July 2015, a Belgian court sentenced Akrouh in absentia to five years in jail for having participated in the activities of a terrorist group. Abaaoud was sentenced in the same ruling to 20 years in jail.

Akrouh left Belgium in January 2013, first flying to Turkey and then travelling on to Syria, where Belgian prosecutors said he had joined the Islamic State extremist group.

Belgian investigators searched the home of Akrouh's parents in Molenbeek Friday morning, local media reported.

Last update: Fri, 15/01/2016 - 14:54
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