French investigators name alleged coordinator of Paris, Brussels attacks

PARIS (AFP) - French investigators have identified a Syria-based extremist of dual Belgian and Moroccan nationality as a suspected coordinator of attacks in Paris and Brussels, sources close to the case said on Tuesday (Nov 08).

Oussama Atar, a 32-year-old thought to be a member of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, was already a suspect in the Brussels attacks on March 22 but has now been linked to the November 13, 2015 atrocities in Paris.

"He's the only coordinator from Syria to have been identified during the investigations," one of the sources said.

French investigators have long suspected that the Paris attacks, in which teams of militants killed 130 people, were coordinated by one or several people from Syria, but have never named anyone before.

Atar, believed to go by the pseudonym Abou Ahmad, is a cousin of the El Bakraoui brothers who blew themselves up in the Brussels airport and metro attacks.

Another two cousins, Moustapha and Jawad Benhattal, were arrested on June 18 on suspicion of planning an attack in Belgium during a public screening of a Euro 2016 football match, Belgian media reported at the time.

France is gearing up to mark this weekend the anniversary of the Paris attacks.

The Bataclan concert hall, where 90 people died during a show attacked by three gunmen, is set to reopen on Saturday with a gig by Sting.

French President Francois Hollande will lead low-key commemorations on Sunday in the presence of survivors and family members of the dead.