France seeks unity to bomb IS

An undated photograph of a man described as Abdelhamid Abaaoud that was published in the Islamic State's online magazine Dabiq and posted on a social media website (AAP)
An undated photograph of a man described as Abdelhamid Abaaoud that was published in the Islamic State's online magazine Dabiq and posted on a social media website (AAP)

French investigators have put a face to the evil committed in Paris, and a name. They believe Abdelhamid Abaaoud is the mastermind of the co-ordinated attacks.

Twenty-seven-year-old Abaaoud is now believed to be in Syria, but is a Belgian national of Morrocan origin. It's thought he has radicalised his own 13-year-old brother and taken him to Syria.

He has bragged publically before about plotting against the West.

The streets of the Belgian neighbourhood where he and some of the other bombers and gunmen grew up are now swarming with heavily armed masked police officers.

They were there in January too, thinking they had cornered Abaaoud in a raid on a suspected Islamic State (IS) cell. They were wrong.

Also still on the run is Salah Abdeslam. His brother, Brahim, blew himself up when he denoted a suicide vest during the attacks.

Their surviving brother, Mohamed Abdeslam, was detained then released by police. He said he wasn't involved and suspected nothing.

"We did not know – neither me nor my family. They are big boys. They are over 18. We do not ask them for their schedule every time they leave the house."

He said he had no idea where his fugitive brother was.

"We do not know if, despite the current tensions, he will dare to surrender to the justice. You must know that he grew up here, studied here. He is a normal person."

But nothing about this is normal. Police were also called to a bar owned by the Abdeslam brothers, where up until six weeks ago they served and sold alcohol – something the Muslim faith prohibits.

Online, IS fighters revelled in the bloody handiwork of their so-called brothers.

"We congratulate Muslims in all corners of the globe over this great victory," one fighter said in a video released online. "You thought you could terrorise Muslims and women without us putting up a fight."

Meanwhile, French authorities continue to hunt those responsible, kicking in doors and rounding up suspects overnight. France's Interior Minister confirms there’ve been 168 raids and more than 100 house arrests, with 23 others arrested and in police custody.

Thirty-one weapons, including 19 handguns, eight rifles and four assault weapons, have been seized.

In Brussels, yet more suspects have appeared in court. But just as France and its allies are determined to strike a blow for justice, IS is equally determined to strike again, saying in a video, "We struck France at the centre of its abode in Paris, then we swear we will strike America at its centre in Washington."

It's a cold, calculated and clear message that this can happen anywhere.

The French President has called for one massive coalition to be put together to wipe out IS.

Even countries who have held opposing views on Syria are now working together to help the citizens of major cities all over the world feel safer.

A minute's silence began in Paris and rolled across Europe today in a tribute to those who lost their lives.

As those in the City of Light try to emerge from a terror-induced darkness, the country's leaders stand defiant in their determination to bring down IS.

For just the second time, French President Francois Hollande spoke to the joint houses of Congress.

He said Syria had become the "biggest factory of terrorists" the world has ever known and a unity of force is needed to bring IS down.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls confirmed airstrikes against the group in Syria tripled overnight, saying France will act on all fronts to destroy IS without respite.

Mr Valls said they knew the attacks were being planned and warned more are likely. Around 5000 extra troops have been dispatched in Paris, and 10,000 across France.

The Paris attacks dominated discussions at the G20 summit in Turkey, forcing countries with differing views on the war in Syria to find common ground.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last month launched air strikes against anti-Assad forces. Today though, he says he's ready to support the Syrian opposition through air strikes against IS.

He went on to say now is the time to re-establish cooperation between the East and West on various levels, which includes the political one.

"Thank you very much Mr President Vladimir, it is good to have this opportunity to speak," said British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Meanwhile, authorities have confirmed the holder of a Syrian passport found near the body of one of the Paris gunmen was registered as a refugee in several European countries last month.

Marine Le Pen of France's far-right National Front now says she does not want one more refugee on French soil.

In the US, right-leaning candidate Donald Trump used the attacks to highlight the issue of gun control.

"Paris is one of the places in the world that's toughest on guns, alright?" said Mr Trump. "So you had all of these people sitting in these different places, no protection whatsoever. If it had happened in this room…"

But now Parisians have to deal with what really happened, and they are doing their best to do that with their dignity and their pride intact.

The events in Paris are still central in the minds of many in New Zealand, with a vigil just getting under way in Wellington.

The city's mayor and the French ambassador spoke to the gathering at Civic Square.

French people in the crowd told 3 News they were upset to be away from their homeland and they felt a strong need to be with others at the vigil.

A book of condolence was also opened at the French embassy today.

3 News