Third gunman in Paris massacre identified

Foued Mohamed Aggad (above, in a picture posted on his Facebook account last year) died in the attack on Bataclan music hall that left 90 concert-goers dead.
Foued Mohamed Aggad (above, in a picture posted on his Facebook account last year) died in the attack on Bataclan music hall that left 90 concert-goers dead.

Man from Strasbourg had travelled to Syria with his brother and a group of friends in 2013

PARIS • A 23-year-old man from the eastern French city of Strasbourg has been identified as the third gunman involved in the attack on Paris' Bataclan music hall.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, speaking on BFM TV station, did not give the name of the suspect, but BFM and other French media identified him as Foued Mohamed Aggad.

"What is important is that the investigation is advancing, and the links are being identified," Mr Valls said.

Aggad, who died in the assault, had travelled to war-torn Syria with his brother and a group of friends at the end of 2013, according to a police source close to the investigation yesterday.

The other attackers involved in the massacre of 90 concert-goers at the Bataclan - Omar Ismail Mostefai, 29, and former Paris bus driver Samy Amimour, 28 - had also been to Syria. Two of the gunmen blew themselves up with suicide belts packed with explosives after the killing spree, the worst of the Nov 13 Paris attacks.

The third was shot by police who stormed the venue with hundreds of people still inside.

Most of the group of six men from Strasbourg who went to Syria with Aggad were arrested in the Meinau area of the city in May last year after their return and are all in custody on terrorist charges.

When questioned about their return, they claimed that they had been horrified by what they had witnessed in Syria and had started to dribble back to France from February last year.

They claimed to have gone to Syria for humanitarian work but prosecutors believe they were part of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which claimed responsibility for the carnage in Paris.

Investigators believe two brothers from the group, Mourad and Yassine Boudjellal, were killed while fighting with ISIS.

But Aggad stayed on in Syria, the police source said. He was identified at the end of last week after his DNA was matched with that of members of his family, the source added.

Police suspect the Strasbourg group had been recruited by Mourad Fares, 31, who was known to French intelligence for recruiting radical fighters through social media and the Internet. He was arrested in August last year in Turkey.

Nearly 1,500 people were watching the Californian band Eagles of Death Metal play at the Bataclan when the gunmen burst in last month, leaving 90 dead and hundreds hurt, mostly people aged under 40.

Aggad's father, Mr Said Mohamed-Aggad, said he was "surprised" to learn about his son's murder spree.

"I would have killed him myself beforehand," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2015, with the headline 'Third gunman in Paris massacre identified'. Print Edition | Subscribe